For the past year adult social care staff in Somerset have had the freedom to do things differently.
They were handed the reins and given the go head to tear up the paperwork, rethink the service from scratch and test out their own new creative ideas.
The results have been astounding says Stephen Chandler, director of adult services at Somerset County Council.
“By giving staff the freedom to try out new ideas we have made huge strides forward in the support we provide,” he says. “Staff took a radical step away from traditional ways of working and brought creative solutions to the table.
“The teams have set up community drop-ins, created forums for shared learning and made improvements to the first contact people have with the council so that more people get the support they need quickly to help them get on with their life.”
The decision to rip up the paperwork and give staff the freedom to try new approaches is rooted in Somerset’s focus on improving support to promote people’s independence so that they can live the life they want to live.
“The change has empowered staff to do things their own way and they continue to be eager to make support even better for the people of Somerset,” says Chandler.
Somerset is now looking to go further by recruiting locality leads who will have the freedom to drive forward improvements in their area of the county.
The locality lead role is very different to the traditional advanced practitioner role it replaces. The role allows staff to branch out, be innovative and take responsibility for their patch.
They will really get to know their area – the people who live there, the services available and the local health, community and voluntary contacts while managing a team of 12 social workers, occupational therapists and adult social care workers.
The ideal stepping stone
Alison took on a locality lead role a few months ago.
“I’ve worked for Somerset for many years and I actually feel within this role that I am given the opportunity to be involved and influence change within the organisation,” she says.
“A key aspect of the role is not only to lead a team but to also develop good relationships with the local community including linking up with voluntary agencies and other professionals in the area.
“It has allowed me to return to using my skills of creativeness and resourcefulness and I am able to make appropriate decisions and work autonomously.”
Alison says the locality lead role is “the ideal stepping stone” for social workers and occupational therapists moving into management as “it enables you to still practice but to also lead a team and design how things are done”.
Find out more from Alison
Looking for a change?
If you are looking for a change in 2018 and you want to share your bright ideas, then it’s time to join Somerset.
In return the council offers a salary of up to £36,000 dependent on experience.
You will also have access to an extensive training and development package, a local government pension and a range of benefits through the council’s My Staff Shop scheme, including discounts across retail, cars, insurance and leisure.