I can't think where this year has gone. January was as busy as any I can remember and it has just carried on getting busier. In a rare moment of reflection, I wondered how my life had become so complicated and hectic. It dawned on me that I enjoy the privilege of swanning about meeting and talking to interesting people about fascinating subjects because of one thing; my stupendous, amazing, lovely team.
There’s a huge list of activities they have supported me with recently. In the last month I've been in Oslo with the Norwegian Directorate of Health and 250 local authorities, accompanying a client speaking about the Argenti care technology model. Twice this year we have hosted the DHSC/Cabinet Office team drafting the Social Care Green Paper. I spoke a little while ago at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists about the “five keys to mainstreaming care technology” (a ‘flip’ of my ADASS blog here).
We’ve just delivered a really excellent piece of research for a client into the future role of Cobots in care (see subsequent blog here). The first year of our Argenti service in Barnet ended a fortnight ago with us smashing the plan for adding new TECS service users. After that, I had three exhausting days at the ADASS Spring Seminar, meeting old friends and making new connections.
Last week we had a return visit from 30 Norwegians keen to see in the flesh how we mainstream Technology Enabled Care Services in the UK. This week, there was an interview for BBC’s Politics Show about our use of Amazon Alexa to deliver care for people with physical disabilities or sensory loss in Hampshire (skip to minute 52).
Right now, I’m exploring how we, along with the TSA, Carers UK and others, can access the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge fund to reshape the future of technology in care. On top of this we have delivered care technology diagnostics, hosted visits and had really good conversations with several large local authorities that know they should be getting much more from TECS, but struggle to know how to do it and, at times, are barking up the wrong tree. For example, when will we really start to accept that it's not about the kit, it's about the people? When will we realise that charging vulnerable people ‘£3.87’ per week for a button and box service that they don’t want to admit they need is counter-productive? When will we build the courage to say 'we don't need another TECS pilot, let's just get on with it'?
It’s the team who make all this happen. They are the ones who have taken us from 500 to 10,000 service users in Hampshire and doubled the first year growth expectations in Barnet. They are ones who have delivered; the Cobots report, the Alexa Pilot, the Dementia Early Intervention Programme, Operation Magnet with Hants Constabulary, the TEC-enabled Social Isolation Service, the Barnet Supported Living Initiative, the Children’s Services TECS Pathfinder and more. Without them, their values, their focus on outcomes for people, their willingness to go the extra mile, their great good humour and their endless patience with service users, care practitioners and of course me, I would be nowhere.
Through the Quality Standards Framework, the TSA champions the fundamental role of the workforce in making services person-centric and outcome-focused. Continuously developing the TECS team and letting them know they are doing a great job is a really important part of that. When did you last talk to the people who make the good things in your TECS service happen and say "thank you and well done"? I don't do it often enough. Here's my chance. Thank you and well done to: Peter Hindmarsh, Harmindar Sangha, David Harris, Sharon Collings, Steve Taylor, Philippa Nichols, Alex Steffel, Rhian Williamson, Tom Carnegie, Richard Parasram, Robert Turnbull and Lynda Kelly.
Thank you and well done also to the great teams at our Argenti partners Medvivo and Red Alert. Thank you to our endlessly enthusiastic and trusting clients. Finally, thank you to the boss, PA’s David Rees, for giving us the freedom and encouragement to create something really special in Argenti, which enables us to keep many thousands of people living safely and more independently.
Steve Carefull is a Director with PA Consulting Group and Programme Director for the Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership.