About the Author: Sian Lockwood

Sian Lockwood is CEO of Community Catalysts and Chair of the Coalition for Personalised Care Social Prescribing subgroup. She is a passionate advocate for very small-scale community-led solutions that help people with health or social care needs to live the life they want.

4 September 2020

Back in June, a few members of the Coalition for Personalised Care partnership (C4PC) thought it could be both useful and interesting to have a space for reflection and learning, where members could come together informally and share their experiences through the Covid-19 pandemic, and their thoughts about the future. All members of C4PC were invited to join and, so far, two sessions have been held. Here we synthesise some of the initial reflections, and pose questions for our next session – What does renewal look like for the coalition, and what role does C4PC have in recovery planning?

What have we learnt so far?

C4PC is a diverse partnership with members representing a whole range of organisations and sections of civil society and beyond. All, however, have an interest in and focus on ensuring personalised care is at the heart of their work with people. Irrespective of the focus of each organisation there were some reflections of the experience so far that were common to us all.

  1. Rapid transition to using digital tools. Organisations felt that they, and partners, had transitioned to using digital tools quickly, that this had enabled them to keep working with those who use their services and that it would help to limit the impact of isolation on individuals
  2. Collaboration between organisations and across sectors had increased with previous (perceived or actual) barriers removed quickly to enable a range of organisations to work together to meet local need. Members of the network are keen for this to remain post Covid-19.
  3. Large public sector organisations have responded well, in the main. Linked to greater and easier collaboration, members felt that their interactions with NHS and local authorities had been largely positive and had enabled them to respond quickly to needs of their communities.
  4. Grant funders have responded positively, with some reaching out to existing grantees to provide additional funds and/or being flexible on use of existing funds.
  5. Community focussed & led organisations are flexible, and have responded to changing needs in amongst their communities with agility. It’s felt this is at least in part due to these organisations having really strong relationships with their communities prior to Covid-19 so they are aware of the evolving needs and strengths within them.
  6. There are very real concerns amongst members about the impact of Covid-19 on mental health & wellbeing, not only of the people they may support but on staff and across society. Much of this impact is not yet known and won’t be for a while. But in thinking about recovery it needs to be a key consideration

Amongst the group were some interesting reflections on how the move to digital working could have led to a shift in perceptions from wider society of people with disabilities. Where previously, for example, commuting to an office 5 days a week may not have been feasible for someone living with a long-term condition, the transition to everyone working from home opens up future potential employment opportunities. Virtual meetings have proved far more inclusive, enabling equal participation from people with and without disabilities or health challenges. However there were also concerns about steps backwards in collaborative and personalised care in some instances in particular the language of ‘vulnerability’ that has been used so frequently, the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people who need some extra support and their families & carers, and people deemed ‘vulnerable’ continuing to shield when those deemed less vulnerable start to return to some form of normality.

What does this mean for the future? We don’t want there to be further inequalities between those with long-term conditions or who need some support currently and those who do not, so how can the Coalition for Personalised Care play a role in recovery planning and ensuring collaborative and personalised care is understood and embedded within that?