Keeping Faith In Those We Can Trust

A research project undertaken by Swansea University Human Sciences Department, by Research student Joanna Wolton, has published preliminary findings. Although there is a ‘health warning’ around this interim report, there are some significant factors that are unlikely to change and provide important insights into why the Care & Repair brand is so successful.

Some of the key insights are highlighted by the general approach, i.e. not focusing on the ‘“things” that we can do, rather than on the “people” who make sure these “things” are put in place.’ High quality social network analysis explores both the organisational dynamic and external ‘link-agent’ strengths of the Care & Repair service. It starts to unpack the very effective face-to-face approach that is a unique selling point of ‘Wales’ best kept secret’.

The context of a changing Health, Housing and Social Care public service environment linked to demographic trends for ageing clearly make demands related to co-production, reduced dependency (supporting independence) and citizen-centred services. Welsh Governments landmark policies drive these specific agendas. Older people want easy access to services that deliver practically around ‘what matters’ to them, not conventional off-the-shelf service offers.

The preliminary report indicates almost 400 community cross-referral partners that are ‘linked-in’ to the home improvement agenda to secure greater independence. As important as this community network is to integrating agencies around a dispersed housing and social care model, the research has highlighted the Care & Repair casework approach as being fundamental to success, i.e. the ‘way’ the service is delivered is as important as ‘what’ it delivers.

Thus, what is valued by older people is ‘confidence giving’, ‘reassurance’, ‘trustworthiness’, ‘knowledge and expertise in advice’, ‘always being there’.

As one beneficiary of our services put it: ‘I got a lady who was willing to talk to me instead of pushing me on’. Surely, getting the balance right between practical interventions and referring on to service partners, where needs are critical and issues preventable, is the nub of prudent healthcare? There are some clear messages for potential funders of Care & Repair; ‘adding practical weight to social outcomes’, ‘delivering tangible added-value’, ‘being trusted by beneficiaries for getting it right for them’ and ‘providing a natural catalyst for community partnerships’!!!!

This research project will certainly unlock a potential for long term investment opportunity, as ‘austerity’ continues, budgets remain tight and critical decisions demand shrewdness. We look forward to the full and final report in May 2018.

Neil Williams, Care & Repair Cymru