The coalition Government finalised earlier this year the way forward for Personalisation and community based support:
"Personalisation and community are the key building blocks of a reform agenda, shaped around an individual’s own expertise and resources. When people need ongoing support, this should help them to retain or regain the benefits of community membership including living in their own homes, maintaining or gaining employment and making a positive contribution to the communities they live in.
Experience has shown that most progress in implementing personalisation is made where: Local leadership focuses on cultural change, just as much as systems change, encouraging concentration on outcomes determined byPeople and communities and engaging solutions beyond the narrow definitions of social care, People have real control over the resources used to secure care and support."
Local Councils invested £520m in the ‘Putting People First’ program (2008 to 2011) which was designed to offer personalised care, alongside the rolling out of personal budgets, to at least 30% of users within the adult social care field. This program has now been replaced by yet another Personalisation Agenda, Think Local Act Personal, “through which the Coalition Government proposes that eligible users will receive support through their own personal budget by 2013".
However, many of us are concerned that, due to public spending cuts, those with specific well being, health and social care problems will get left behind during the transformation process. If that is the case:
Is personalisation new?
The personalisation agenda is not new. Marketing experts have spent years customising and targeting their goods and services to attract us, the customers, on a personal level; to make us feel that something has been designed specifically with our needs and desires in mind. This (apparent) level of detailed care, immediately attracts our attention, draws us in and make us feel warm and comfortable, and personally looked after.
This approach is not adopted just because it is a ‘good thing’ to do, but because it encourages us, the consumer, to purchase, and to continue purchasing. In other words, it is a calculated economic strategy. A personalised approach offers increased efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness simply because it increases the chances of the customer buying. If something ticks all the right boxes for a customer, why would they look elsewhere?
Since the financial downturn started in 2008, we have seen how every aspect of our lives has been affected: consumer goods, education, hospital services, house-buying, holidays, food, the media, technology etc down to small personal luxuries such as whether to buy a bunch of flowers or our favourite bar of chocolate. In each industry we have seen how the businesses that are surviving are those that focus their attention on developing a personalisation strategy. They put all their efforts into ensuring the customer engages, enjoys and benefits throughout the whole customer experience, whether this is buying a new television, enjoying a cup of coffee or simply having a look around a new shop.
Why is it important in the Health and Social Care world?
The personalisation approach is successful because it taps into a simple but powerful idea: make something that exactly matches my personal needs and desires and I am going to find it hard to resist. Why would I look elsewhere? It’s a concept that is not just confined to the consumer goods and services sector. It can be applied equally successfully in health and social care environments, and it’s successful for the same reasons: if it works, and produces a successful outcome, we will stop looking elsewhere and stick with the services we know and trust.
We all want to be served in a way that makes us feel alive leaving us feeling wanted and respected: valued, listened to and in control; ensuing we are making our own contributions as well as gaining something; above all, where we have real awareness of as well as develop our own identity. That’s what ubu’s customer- centric Personalisation is all about and it’s also what well being, health and social care is all about.
So if other industries have found they can gain these benefits by adopting a personalised approach at times of financial hardship, why is there such concern over the financial viability of the Health and Social care sectors adopting the same approach? Maybe this just simply highlights how narrow and out of touch our health and social care sectors still are from the real society we all live in today. Or is it because there are no easy or quick solutions in our sectors? Instead each solution has, by definition, to be individual. Finding them takes serious hard work, determination and enormous stamina from everyone involved. Perhaps that is the real difference?
Why is it important we embrace the personalised agenda now?
Because the only social care providers who will survive are those who can provide a service that meets the very specific and individual needs and aspirations of service users. The Personalisation Agenda is part of our general 21st century lifestyle; so it’s what the people we serve both expect and should have.
What does this mean for ubu?
It means looking at what we do, what we achieve, what we’re not doing, where we are not meeting all our customers’ expectations and working out why. It means each and every one of us looking at what value and contribution we make towards achieving this outcome. And it means making sure that at every stage, we give our customers real value.
Our work is based on the simple but fundamental belief that we listen to our customers so that we can deliver a service that both meets their current needs and helps them achieve their future aspirations. We gather a vast amount of personal information to enlighten us how and where we can improve customers’ lives and experiences through giving them the best possible service. They trust us with this information because they rely on us to help them make the most of their lives. So we must use this knowledge and make significant progress happen every day.
I listen to and hear what our customers say, and I hear their mixed reviews regarding the Government’s Personalisation Agenda. However, all our customers are very clear that the service they want, and expect, from ubu is firmly based on openness and trust.
They expect us to:
- be customer-centric at all times
- deliver the outcomes promised
- ensure their experience of ubu is consistently good and enjoyable no matter who they come into contact with
- generate and sustain energy and be motivated in achieving their objectives as well as seeking and implementing the solutions to the obstacles that stand in their way
- behave responsibly being accountable and honest, respectful, transparent and supportive at all times
- be seamless in its thinking and delivery across the whole of our network
- communicate well at all times
As we are approaching our ubu "How was it for you" reflective personal appraisals this month, please embrace these central themes into your discussions. These are the delivery foundation of our personalisation agenda and the basis of everything that drives us to deliver unique customer-centric personalised support. Take time to understand and fully embrace them into your everyday working practices, and explore ways in which you think we can all improve what we are doing to ensure we truthfully deliver what we say we will - deliver customer-centric unique personalised support