Turn rhetoric into reality

People with learning difficulties simply do not have a high
enough priority in government thinking.

And in a system such as social care, which is increasingly
driven by targets set by the centre, that means they don’t
have a high enough priority for those commissioning and delivering
services either.

We have seen many times how quickly and forcefully the
government can make change happen when it identifies a problem that
is attracting substantial media and political attention. It rapidly
devises a solution and writes that solution into the performance
assessment system.

Adoption is just one obvious example. Delayed discharge is
another. Unfortunately, in both these cases, the government’s
preferred solutions are simplistic and blunt in comparison to the
well thought-out and people-centred vision of the Valuing People
white paper.

The only problem with the white paper is that the mechanisms to
make it happen are not in place.

This week’s announcement that the implementation support
fund will be extended for an extra two years is welcome. But
however worthwhile the support has been, this is just more of the
same. And when agencies are burdened with massive uncertainty and
looming change, recruitment problems, and a dense web of
performance indicators, a culture has been created in which
appealing to professionals’ values, judgement and
understanding of best practice isn’t enough.

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