Partnerships need open communication and an understanding of other agencies’ and service users’ needs, says James Lampert
By nature of our professional training and experience, we’re all good at our direct client work – after all, that’s why
most of us have chosen this career path. It’s the kind of people we are and, largely, it comes naturally to us. But, as we know, social care workers are expected to have the skills to deal with diverse and varied situations, including working with other organisations and service providers.
There is hidden value in working together within a team and it is equally true when working in partnership with one or more organisations. It can be complex, time- and energy-consuming but if we do it well we get synergy – a combined effect that is greater than the sum of our separate actions.
My team works with professionals from a range of agencies. We maintain the traditional close working relationships with our occupational therapy colleagues in the acute hospitals and the intermediate care teams. We use the integrated joint equipment
store, part-funded by the NHS and partly by Kent Council.
Another main partner is home improvement agency Homestay. We work closely on many of our cases to arrange disabled facilities grants for home adaptations, including stairlifts and level access showers.
We have, over the past year, been working harder together to improve our services for clients. Key has been our focus on communicating more openly with each other, trying to understand each other’s needs and looking for ways to modernise and improve working practices. We have created opportunities for open dialogue, pointing out where things are not working
well and looking for solutions.
Together, we have developed better ways to get the job done for the benefit of team members and service users. For example, we have moved to an electronic ordering system for minor adaptations in council properties, in effect speeding the process by a week or so. A short-term working party has been formed, with some of my team members working with Homestay to standardise some of our shared documentation, basing it on current best practice, but also meeting the needs of both groups.
Some team members, as part of their annual personal action plan, have chosen to develop and practise their skills in partnership working. Kent Council has developed the Ways to Success framework to help us do this. People with partnership
working skills are considered important assets. It’s not just about working in partnership with others, but it is the way that you do it that makes the difference and leads to successful outcomes for team members and service users alike.
James Lampert is team leader, occupational therapy bureau, adult services directorate, Kent Council