Two weeks ago I was surprised to get a call from a provider asking for help to recruit a new Person-Centred Planning Co-ordinator. This role is an echo from the past for me. I have friends who used to be ‘PCP Co-ordinators’, but I don’t think this role still exist in local authorities, and there are a handful of people with a similar role in some providers. The Person-Centred Planning Co-ordinator was a new role emerging in 2000 to help implement Valuing People. Essentially, their role was to train and support person-centred planning facilitators, to ensure that person-centred planning happened and it made a difference. Our aspirations were high for person-centred planning to lead to great lives for people and rock services. There was lots of effort and energy, and great co-ordinators, yet history tells us that success was mixed. I was part of that change, and if I had my time over again, there is a lot that I would do differently. I facilitated the annual national gathering and we learned from and with people about their role and change.
We learned that:
- If you focus on person-centred plans, then they become the outcome, and counting plans is seen as success
- Facilitators found it difficult to ‘hand over’ plans to managers
- Managers saw plans as the facilitators responsibility
This learning was reflected in the guidance that followed ‘Putting People First’ in 2010. We recognised that it was less about facilitating plans and more about a person-centred culture that supported choice and control, and that everyone needed to be able to use person-centred practices within their role. Working in a person-centred way and figuring out how to support people to have control over their life and service, had to be central how first line managers worked, not the ‘icing on the cake’.
So when I got the call from Salford, it seemed like an opportunity to show what we had learned could inform a new role. Instead of co-ordinating plans, the role needs to be about supporting person-centred practices to create change.
A new role
The essence of the new role is to create the conditions that enable colleagues to work in a person-centred way, through person-centred practices, to enable people to live the lives they want, with the right support and move towards their aspirations. I think there are five elements to this new role.
1) We need all staff need to be able to use person-centred thinking tools in their day-to-day work so that they know what matters to people, and how to support people to have the greatest choice and control possible.
This means that:
- staff need to learn the skills and tools
- managers need to help staff to implement these, and to coach and support people to use them well
Rather than going back to this role being about training, a more radical approach would be to learn the skills and tools through e-learning, and the person then works with managers to help them support their staff to implement person-centred practices in their day-to-day work through supervision, meetings, and coaching.
2) We need annual person-centred reviews where people have an opportunity to reflect on what is working and not working for them, and their aspirations, and a process that enables people to agree outcomes and actions for change.
- managers need to be able to facilitate person-centred reviews
- staff need to be able to support people to fully contribute and prepare for person-centred reviews
- managers need to know how to embed the outcomes and actions from person-centred reviews into the day to day work of the team, and review progress
The new role would help managers explore with people what their ‘perfect week’ looks like, how to use assistive technology and Just Enough Support to help achieve this, working with family, friends or Community Circles, enabling the person to choose their own staff or match to support, and how to put Individual Service Funds into practice.
3) We need to keep learning and acting on what is getting in the way of people having the life that they want, with as much choice and control as possible. We know that paperwork, policies and practices often do not fully support person-centred ways of working. We know that sometimes other training courses are not fully aligned with person-centred practices.
This means that:
- we need to proactively align paperwork, policies, practices and other training with person-centred practices and reviews so that they all support staff to provide great support
- we need ways to continually learn from staff and managers about what is working and not working around implementing person-centred practices to create person-centred change in peoples lives
This is where the new role would start to connect the learning at a team and manager level with other processes and systems within the organisation.
4) We know to proactively create a person-centred culture within teams.
This means that:
- we need managers to know what a person-centred team is, how well they are doing in working that way, and how they can continually improve
- we need managers to know how to use a person-centred approach to meetings, supervision, how the rota’s are written, and how resources are used
The first time round the Person-Centred Planning Co-ordinators role was only focused on what happened within a planning meeting. Here is needs to focus out to team culture and systems too.
5) We need to have a way to connect people’s experience – what is working and not working for them – to the way the service and organisation develops.
This means that:
- we need to use Working Together for Change – for both people and staff – to direct the way that the service and organisation develops
My next step is to help develop this into a person-specification and job description.
When I re-read what I had written it made me pause. How is this different to what we would expect middle managers to do? Is their role to support first line managers to work in a person-centred way, and link their learning to how the organisation works? If not, what is it?