The Department of Health has acknowledged that the performance of partnership boards across the country is patchy.
We asked boards to share their examples of good practice and we reprint here the examples they sent in.
In Community Care (July 26) we focus on the work of Westminster partnership board which has made strides improving transport services for people with learning disabilities.
Here is what other boards told us…
People with a learning disability in our area talked to the Board about being bullied. This resulted in the Partnership Board linking with the Safer Communities Partnership and setting up Hate crime reporting centres in buildings used by people with a learning disability.
Isle of Wight
Acting Service Manager
Drug Action and Learning Disability Teams
Some members of the IOW partnership board suggested these examples:
Payments for people (advocates) who support service users – this was agreed by the Board in May 2006.
Transport was an ongoing issue and has now been resolved with the interchange being moved from Medina to Riverside.
The workshops have been a huge success and have had a big impact. We have now moved forward from having the workshops facilitated by a professional to the Focus Group (who are service users) facilitating future workshops.
The Partnership Board decide how we spend the LDDF revenue funding each year and monitors how we are doing, service user reps have pushed for a number of things and this year wanted to support a dating agency and this was agreed.
User Involvement Project Coordinator
The service user parliament suggested that a Bill of Rights be written – highlighting the rights that people with learning disabilities have, but are often overlooked. The Partnership Board agreed this and are supporting the Parliament in producing the Bill. It is hoped that the Council executive will also agree the Bill of Rights so it is officially recognised.
Helen Toker Lester
We undertook a piece of work on “Keeping Safe” after an issue raised by individuals in the Partnership Board where they recalled experiences of bullying and harassment. Personal stories are always very powerful in motivating a wide range of people to take action. It was from those revelations that we developed better links with community police who identified areas in our community where people with learning disabilities lived. They stepped up visits to those areas as a result.
Another thing that came to light was when we had discussions about charges for services with lots of comments from individuals. From this we identified people were not always getting full information on the money they were getting from benefits. Many people had no idea about how much they were receiving, even though the money was being used by families / carers to support them. The LDPB decided to run a “Money Matters” event about this. We used drama to discuss the point about people having a say about their money. Banks came and explained about things they could do to help like direct debits to pay bills or help on accessing accounts. This was really helpful to support people in managing individual budgets too.
Hambleton and Richmondshire
An example we have is someone who uses services and is a board member who raised issues of community safety particular in relation to bullying. As a consequence the Board held an anti bullying conference, linked with local community safety partnerships, accessed funding from the partnerships to develop and launch a harassment and hate crime reporting format, met with members to highlight issues with them and began to visit local colleges at lunchtime to talk to students about the impact of bullying.
We have completely transformed our board to suit service users.
We have music, immediate review of speakers, a start up with “What worked for me ” – 5 minutes where a service user describes his / her experience of how a service improved their life outcomes etc
Our PB is now represented on the key strategic meeting for Learning Disability and this ensures real input on decision making.
I also have two mentors to guide my work as County Manager and quite frankly it is the most informative and enjoyable meeting I go to !
Valuing People Development Worker
We have seven people with learning disabilities on our Board including a Co Chair and his Deputy.
There are numerous decisions that are made as a result of self advocates’ perspectives. However, to single out one –
Self-advocates were concerned about the changes in special needs transport provided through the local Passenger Transport Executive – Nexus. As a result of this the decision was for the Board to write to Nexus who willingly got on board ( no pun intended !). A Transport Action Plan was written, a Transport For All forum was started and the service is now being reviewed with people with learning disabilities helping to make the decision to continue the present scheme or to change for a smart card based on demand service. Both have their strengths and weaknesses so it will be fascinating to see what is eventually chosen.
Cumbria Learning Disability Partnership Board
In 2006 people who go to the Partnership Board said they would like to know what the Board did and what it was doing about improving the lives of people with learning disability.
A sub group was formed from people with learning disability, carers and family members to write the terms of reference for the Board including who should be on it as members. These are now in place, and have received positive comment from the Valuing People Support Team.
The Board also undertook an enquiry across all people who use or are interested in learning disability services to find out what people wanted to improve and what things would make their lives better. 300 people answered questionnaires and these answers became “commissioning intentions”. The Board has now used these to write a Partnership Board Commissioning Strategy and a business plan that tells people in Cumbria what will happen in learning disability services.
The Partnership Board is now the strategic reference group for Cumbria learning disability services and oversees the implementation of the commissioning strategy.
We all think this is a good way for a Partnership board to work.
Valuing People Manager
We carried out a survey in 2006 involving 370 people and the results showed that 55% of people with learning disabilities thought their lives had improved over the previous two years. This was probably due to many factors not least of which are changes in the way services are provided – in Oxfordshire supported living and community-based day time support. The general feeling from the survey was that projects and ways of working that valued the voice of people with learning disabilities had meant people generally felt better about their lives.
The Partnership Board has sought to showcase existing good practice which gives people with learning disabilities a voice, for example;
· involving people with learning disabilities in the recruitment of staff who support them – Choosing Staff
· Partnership Board funds a project that involves people with learning disabilities (and families) to quality check other services in the County – Looking at Us
The Partnership Board does not claim to take credit for initiating every good practice project in the County, but it does support and publicise where it thinks things are working well and tries to work/ help in areas that are not working so well.
Partnership Boards have no statutory powers, as you know, but they can make a difference if they invite key people to explain decisions and model good ways of inclusive working. The LDDF enables areas which otherwise would not be funded to be tried out, or seed-funded which gives them a foothold to grow and develop. Examples from Oxfordshire include:
· Mates’n’Dates Dating Agency
· Power Up – the training arm of My Life My Choice (Oxfordshire’s self-advocacy organisation)
· A pilot project to provide flexible respite away from buildings
· Total Communication – a project to develop better ways of communicating with people with high support needs (profound and multiple learning disability)
· Flash Forward Film Festival that supported and showcased local film-makers who have a learning disability
· An easywords cook-book to help those who have moved into their own home learn how to cook
We also invest in a Funding Officer to work with voluntary organisations (who support people with disabilities and their families) to help them identify additional ‘external’ funding.
Finally, we have a New Ideas small grants pot which encourages people to come forward with small ideas and need a little help to get started.
All of these projects and ideas would not be around if it weren’t for Partnership Boards and its LDDF and that’s not mentioning the push for more accessible information that all services and organisations are encouraged to move towards. Our Partnership Board influences organisations such as housing associations, HM Courts Service as well as those in more immediate contact. We have agreed a structure to support people with learning disabilities have direct contact with senior managers who manage the health and social care money in Oxfordshire (section 31 pooled budget arrangement). This structure was actually driven by senior managers who had seen what people with learning disabilities could offer and wanted to make sure that voices were heard. The poled budget already has family involvement.
We are fortunate in that we have many years of trying to involve people as best we could. But Valuing People has given an extra impetus. If there is one key thing that Valuing People has enabled, it is wider networking. Now I have a long list of contacts and places where people are doing fantastic things: social enterprises run by people with learning disabilities selling soap in Shetland and proving temporary staff in Wokingham.
The key to Partnership Boards is the mix. You have to find the people who energise others and combine them with people who make the decisions. If Boards aren’t making a difference, then the right people are not on Board
Valuing People Co-ordinator
Trafford’s Partnership Board takes decisions in consultation with our service user advocacy group – future visions. The Partnership Board have two service user representatives on it, one of whom is the co-chair.
Trafford consult with Future Visions regularly, for example, when the commissioning strategy was written it went out for consultation with all our stakeholder groups, including future visions. Trafford also involve service users over the decisions that have been made with our Pathways Service (modernised day service), we hold stakeholder days twice a year as well as having ongoing consultation.
Trafford have produced a “Using Pictures with Words” guidance procedure, this includes a picture glossary that has been agreed by Future Visions. The glossary and guidance was launched council wide and enables the learning disability service and other services to produce information that is accessible to people with learning disabilities.
There is service user representation on some task groups, a service user is involved with the Quality Assurance Audits that the Quality Task Group are undertaking.
Currently an Outcomes of Consultation Project is being undertaken, this project will look at what happens when a service user or parent/carer makes a request/suggestion/comment/complaint/compliment, it will focus on how we can get better at responding to this and putting in place a formal infrastructure.
Here is the presentation that Future Visions produced and presented at this years Partnership Board Annual Review, it gives an idea of things that service users think are working well and what we need to get better at
Derby City Partnership Board has recently made significant changes, to enable the learning disabled representatives on the board to positive, meaningful contributions to decision making. We now use the “Positive and Productive meetings” model, developed by Helen Sanderson and Associates. This identifies
· what the topic is,
· who owns it,
· What is required? E.g. does a decision need to be made or is it just for information.
· What do people attending the meeting need to do e.g. do they need to gather information to take back to the people they represent or do they need to come with information
In November and February a group of carers, learning disabled reps, professionals and advocates met to discuss
· What are things like now?
· What is “your dream”?
· What would you like to be doing in a years time?
From these meetings we had a Families PATH. We took the highest priorities from the PATH to the Partnership Board and there we decided which of those priorities were most important.
The Partnership Board decided that 5 highest priorities by talking about all of the priorities and then voting on which they thought were most important. To do this all voting members of the Board had 2 stickers and could choose where they wanted to put the stickers. According to the vote the highest priorities in this order were
· A Drop In Centre and coffee shop
· More people doing things in their community, such as jobs, college social activities, with proper support.
· More people to have jobs and be supported properly
· More people to be in control of their money
· People being paid to go to meetings
All these decisions were made with the full participation of the reps with learning disabilities and all met with the Valuing People priorities for this year.
Everyone involved in the new style meeting agreed that it was much improved. I have attached a copy of the newsletter from the Partnership Board so that you can see the positive comments after the meeting
Strategic Commissioning Manager (Learning Disability)
East Sussex Adult Social Care
People with learning disabilities have just elected a co-chair onto our Partnership Board.
We have also produced a document entitled
Engaging with People with Learning Disabilities as part of the Development of the Learning Disability Commissioning Strategy which shows how we are involving and engaging with people who use services.
Partnership Board Access Officer (Temporary)
Adult Social Care and Health
Although this information is a list of what the board has funded and what people have done with the money, the activities will have undoubtedly made a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities. The impact of the board’s activities may be undermined due to a lack of stories from service users being available to show how the work has changed their lives. This is something I will pick up on as part of my role to show people what the board does.
It is important to know that service users are members of the all the groups that board has funded or supported in the following activities.
And service users form part of the interview panel for posts that the board funds.
Initiatives that the board has funded include:
· Action meetings in North Nottinghamshire-Independent advocacy meeting with service users from North.
· Making person centred planning happen for people with complex needs in Rushcliffe-Appointed staff to facilitate this process.
· Contract Officer to help change services for people in partnership homes-Person appointed.
· Making sure the Quality Tree is well used-Money allocated to new Advocacy service to ensure this happens.
· Helping ‘Positive Futures’-Theses are the people who developed the “Smile No More Bullying” guidelines and training.
· 40 copies of ‘Smile No Bullying’ and training-These packs were distributed to services and included vouchers for free training. The guidelines implemented in services.
· Person Centred Planning facilitator for in-patients in North Notts-1 year post to complete PCPs on all in-patients, help re-settlement plans and support health staff
· Development Officer-1 year post to help make Bay 6 project a social firm.
· Expenses for a women’s group in Newark-To develop service user led group
· Development money- INVOLVE Arts- Arts projects in day centres across County
· Newark and Sherwood supported living/resettlement officer (part-time post)
· Person Centred Planning Development Officer
· North Nottinghamshire Older Family Carer Service
· Access Officer
· Speech and language therapy posts – (training and intensive interaction)-Person in post
· Action Meetings in North Nottinghamshire-independent advocacy 1 year funding
Practice Supervisor Poole Community Learning Disability Team
I attend the Poole LDPB and we are going through a major overhaul of the board. There are good carer representatives on the board in the form of Poole Forum members, and the co-chair is a man with learning disability. One of the changes I hope we will make are to ensure that people who attend board meetings are able to make decisions for the organisations they represent. We also need to address who can vote, and who are at Board meetings as ‘advisors to the board’