Anne Hackett, from the Social Care Oversight team recently visited London Borough of Barking and Dagenham on a Connecting placement. Anne has kindly shared her experience and offered some general pointers to consider for those in DH who are looking to take part in the Connecting programme.
A visit to Barking and Dagenham over the summer was a fantastic opportunity for me and two Cabinet Office colleagues to learn about health and care services in the area, including the progress being made on integration, personalisation, prevention and out-of-hospital care.
The local authority put a fantastic programme in place for us over two days, during which time we were taken out and about to visit services, attended a Health and Wellbeing Board and had some fascinating discussions with the senior leadership team.
Lunch with the deputy chief executive was a chance to hear about the area’s strategic priorities in one of London’s fastest growing boroughs where there are challenges but also great opportunities and where strong partnerships between social care and health are leading new approaches to integrated care and localities.
A particular highlight was a morning spent at a day centre for people with profound and complex learning disabilities; joining in with various therapy sessions and talking to people and their carers was a privilege, as well as providing valuable insight into the importance of care designed around the individual in improving quality of life.
After the visit, we were talking about ‘the best bits’ and what had made it such a rewarding experience. The stand-out feature was, of course, the thought and effort that everyone had put into the programme to make it good for us. And that deserves something in return. It’s not rocket science but think about why you want to connect with particular services or areas of interest.
That helps frame lessons to bring back to the department, and we found that people genuinely wanted to know why we were visiting and how what we learnt would be used. So be prepared to talk a little about your work, what the department’s doing – and how we could do it better.
Do find out about the services you’ll be visiting and the people you’ll be meeting beforehand – it helps you engage and stops you being a passive recipient.
Services are usually happy to involve you in things that are going on in their day so if you get the chance, join in. Some of our most insightful discussions were with families as we cleared up the tables together after lunch at the day care centre, apart from anything else it’s fun!
So in summary – be clear about your objective for the visit, prepare yourself fully, engage and join in with the programme, and look for opportunities to keep the connection going.
Want to know more about how Connecting can help you and your team? The Connecting team (Jane Ellis in London and Roy Axon and Sophie Collinson in Leeds) would be very happy to join in with team meetings – get in touch via the Connecting mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) or with one of us direct.