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In the past few months, we have been responding to changes in the Health and Social Care sector and making decisions about the best way for Imagineer to continue offering Training, Support Brokerage and support for organisations in relation to Self Directed Support and Personalised Care.

Since 2012, Imagineer has continuously flexed and changed shape in response to different governments, new legal frameworks and policy drivers in relation to Health and Social Care. We have flourished as a small organisation, and have grown our team via a network of associates, extending our reach to further areas in the UK. We have delivered lots of meaningful work over this time, supporting local community-based initiatives, organisational change and development; and the delivery of numerous projects which have centred around the practice of support brokerage. We have delivered training at organisational, local and national level and we have provided mentoring and coaching support to individual practitioners and teams.

As the demand for our work has grown, so has our team! We now operate via a network of practitioners, all bringing significant skills and experience to the delivery of support brokerage.

Our values at Imagineer have always steered our thinking and practice.

The changing shape of the wider social care sector has led us to explore a more equitable team model rather than a hierarchical approach, which provides opportunity for different team members to flex their capacity and explore other projects, areas of focus, passions and interests outside of Imagineer, whilst remaining part of the community of practice.

Two specific team changes to note are Liz and Mollie (who are our longest-serving members of the core team!)

Liz founded Imagineer in 2012, and is excited to be carving out an opportunity to have more time to follow some of her interests which include coaching, dementia care and support; and system change influencing around deinstitutionalisation. Liz is stepping down from her substantial role as Managing Director of Imagineer, but is remaining as a Director on the board, and will still be involved in some of our delivery work alongside other members of the team.

Mollie joined Imagineer as an apprentice in 2013 and has grown the Graphic Facilitation aspects of our work to a point where she is now ready to fly solo! The Big Picture Graphic Facilitation will now be led by Mollie as an enterprise on its own, and she will continue to offer Graphic Facilitation work in partnership with Imagineer in the future. Do sign up for her newsletter if you’re interested in keeping up-to-date with what she’s doing!

As a team, we’re excited about the continued influence of Imagineer’s work, particularly through our work with NHSE to support hospital discharge of people with learning disabilities and autistic people. We’re also keen to continue growing our networks and connect with a wider reach of people interested in our work. If you’d like to be part of the network, please join our online community ‘Be Better Together’ to continue the conversation about Self Directed Support, strengths-based practice and community.

You’re also welcome to sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

For Christmas 2023, we are sharing our #12DaysOfSelfDirectedSupport with twelve top tips for Self Directing your Social Care and Health support.

You can reference this as a complete tool kit for Self Directing your own support or you can select the sections which apply to your own personal circumstances.

Day 1: Your Rights

For people at the beginning of the process of accessing Health and Social Care Support, a good place to begin is to learn about their rights.

The Care Act 2014 is the legal framework which governs the provision of Health and Social Care in England. Visit the .gov website for a range of Factsheets about the Care Act to find out more.

Day 2: Assessment

Everyone has a right under the Care Act 2014 to request an assessment for Adult Social Care support if they believe they have eligible needs. Carers can also request their own assessment for support under the Care Act.

Read our Information sheet about #eligibility to help prepare for a Care Act assessment.

Day 3: Personal Budget

Everyone who has been assessed as having eligible Social Care needs has a right under the Care Act 2014 to request a Personal Budget in order to #SelfDirect their support.

A Personal Budget is a way of choosing how your support will be paid for and managed. It gives you the level of control you want over how your support is planned, organised, provided and paid for.

Read our past blog article about #ChoiceAndControl which shares a real life example of a situation where a #PersonalBudget could make a real difference to someone’s #Outcomes.

Day 4: Personal Health Budget

If you have received a #ContinuingHealthCare assessment, and have been deemed to have #eligible needs, you may be entitled to a #PersonalHealthBudget to #SelfDirect your support.

A Personal Health Budget is a way of being in control of, paying for and managing your own Health support. It gives you the level of control you want over how your Health support is planned, organised and provided.

You can choose to receive the budget as a payment to a bank account or you can ask a #ThirdParty organisation to manage the budget and make the arrangements on your behalf.

Read this fact sheet from NHS England for more information.

Day 5: Circle of Support

If you are choosing to #SelfDirect your own support, a good place to start is to think about the people who are important in your life, who are great at helping you, spending time together and who understand you really well. These are the people who you might want to involve in planning your support, exploring your options and helping you to make new connections in your local community. We sometimes refer to this group of people as a ‘Circle of Support’.

Watch our explainer video with Mollie to find out more about #CirclesOfSupport

Day 6: Advocacy

Sometimes, people who are choosing to #SelfDirect their own support might need some help with expressing their wishes and preferences to ensure that their assessment and support plan is #PersonCentred

The person is entitled to an advocate under the Care Act 2014 legal framework. There are several different types of advocates who can help, depending on the type of issue or support required:

-Care Act advocate

-NHS complaints advocate

-Mental Capacity advocate

-Mental Health advocate

-Independent advocate

Voiceability have some excellent information on their website, including an explainer video about #Advocacy

Day 7: Support Brokerage

Sometimes, people who are choosing to #SelfDirect their own support might want to work with somebody independent of the Local Authority or NHS to explore their options, talk about their ideas and hopes for the future and put their support in place. This is where working alongside an Independent Support Broker can be really helpful in opening up ideas, options, possibilities and solutions for the person, and keeping the momentum going so that the person receives the support they want to achieve their outcomes.

To find out more about #SupportBrokerage watch our explainer video

Day 8: Dreams

In the process of thinking about the future, making plans and organising support; Dreaming is an important part of listening to the person in order to understand what is important and to explore ideas which help the person to experience a good life, based on what they have shared about their dreams.

We have a simple template available to download for #free from our website, with an explainer video to support conversations about ‘Dreams’.

You might also be interested in watching our webinar on ‘Dreams’

Day 9: Explore your options

Once the person has had opportunity to learn about their rights, think about how they want to receive and manage the budget for their support, it’s time to explore options for how the person wants to live their life and how they would like to receive support to do that.

It’s not just about looking at a ‘directory of services’ available in the local area. It’s about starting with the ideas the person has expressed about their life and their future, and then exploring possibilities about how the person could be supported to achieve these outcomes. It might not just be about what is available locally, but about exploring about how to make something happen which does not exist yet. #SelfDirectedSupport is a mechanism which supports this approach, and allows the person to tailor their support in a way which makes sense for them.

The Person’s #CircleOfSupport might also offer to get involved in exploring opportunities and making connections for the person. The person might use some of their budget for paying for support, but some of these opportunities and connections may be relationship-based and without a financial cost attached.

Here are some tools and templates which could assist with this process, and are #free to download from our website.

Day 10: Build connections

Once the person has had explored their options for activities and support, and expressed what they would like to do, the next step is to actively start building connections with people and places the person is interested in. .

The Person’s #CircleOfSupport can offer support with this process (in making introductions) or the person might want to build connections independently.

A tool which could assist with identifying the people and places where the connections need to happen is called ‘The fifth circle’ and it is #free to download from our website (along with an explainer video about how to use it).

Day 11: Support Planning

Once the person has had explored their options for activities and support, built connections in their local community and expressed how they would like to be supported, the next step is to develop a clear #SupportPlan with all of this information, showing where each activity or form of support is sourced from, any associated costs, and the source of funding which will cover the cost of this. An itemised and costed Support Plan can be shared with the person’s social worker or care co-ordinator if funding agreement is needed. This is what a #SelfDirected Support Plan should cover.

The person can say if they want to employ their own #PersonalAssistants to support them or if they want to use an agency to provide support. They can say how they want to receive their budget (if they are eligible) to pay for their support, and they can decide how they want their budget to be managed. This information can all be included in the Support Plan.

At Imagineer we follow the #SevenCriteria for developing a Support Plan:

  1. What is important to the person?
  2. What does the person want to change or achieve?
  3. How will the person be supported?
  4. How will the person use their budget?
  5. How will the person’s support be managed?
  6. How will the person stay in control of their life?
  7. What are the steps to making the plan happen?

By covering all of the information in the #SevenCriteria questions, we can be confident that a comprehensive and effective support plan has been developed in #Coproduction with the person and anyone involved in helping them to make decisions.

Our webinar ‘Introduction to Support Brokerage’ covers some of these key ideas.

Our #free template series ‘Getting the support right’ also has some helpful tools which you can download to use for working out the content of the Support Plan.

Day 12: Make it happen!

Once the person has developed their #SupportPlan and received agreement from Social Care or Health funders, it’s important to keep the momentum going so that the plan is actually put in place. This is where working with a #SupportBroker can be really helpful to coordinate who is going to do what, and creating an action plan which everyone involved agrees to and is held accountable for.

Our #free template series ‘Making it happen’ has some helpful tools which you can download to use for implementing the Support Plan.

We hope you find it useful!

Setting the scene

In our recent conversations with other experienced and esteemed practitioners in the field of health and social care, a regular topic keeps coming up. Why aren’t we seeing real progress in Adult Social Care transformation?

Why now is it still seen as ‘progress’ when a student Social Worker talks about a person they are supporting on the basis of their skills and strengths? This is not new, and it is not innovative. In fact, if a social worker is describing this type of practice, they are merely demonstrating their compliance with the Care Act and Care & Support statutory guidance.  We are not seeing change, because those who are the gatekeepers of the change are still seeing ‘new innovation’ as practice which is aligned with what the innovators were discussing and doing 30 plus years ago.

Innovative work is often observed from an external position, where the work of the innovators is recognised, admired, heralded and celebrated but still seen as separate to ‘what we can do’; therefore those that are in a position to make a difference do not recognise the role they have to play in making it happen. They don’t recognise how they can be part of making the difference themselves – always seen as something the the people on the other side of the statutory fence do. It is common practice to attend conferences and online events which are presented as ‘an audience with the innovators’. The problem with this is that innovation continues to be seen external to the audience and the very gatekeepers of change.

What would it take?

So what would it take for people not only to see and admire the ‘innovative’ work but to embed it into their practice, for them to model this approach and build it into what they do, rather than celebrating it as ‘best practice’ and ‘something to aspire to’?

Is this about providing support and guidance; and to be alongside people, building it into their practice as they stretch their comfort zones until it becomes part of their comfort but preventing them from going into the place of panic? Is it about bringing in what is covered in the Be Humankind practitioner experience around recognising your circles of influence, concern and curiosity;  functioning from a position of influence and courage whilst being in high states of self care? 

Organisations need to focus on building an organisational culture that has psychological safety as a foundation, so that those with the passions, skills and understanding can dare to do things differently and to feel safe and supported in the pursuit of this. We need a health and social care system that is not defined by users and providers but by people being alongside each other in the pursuit of a better life experience. 

Wherever the answer lies, it is this dynamic shift in culture and practice we need to see before we can expect to observe any dynamic shift in the way care and support is organised, sourced and experienced.

How Independent Support Brokerage creates the shift

Independent Support Brokerage creates the shift by working with one person at a time. It does not start with standardisation of processes, forms and templates (which often squeezes out creativity and innovation). Instead it focuses on some key principles:

Listen: to what is happening for the person. Use discovery conversations to understand what the person wants to change or achieve. Start with the strong stuff. Relationships, skills, interests, passions, connections, hobbies. Learn from listening about what a good life looks like for the person. From this foundational information, exploration and planning can happen.

Explore: From the basis of what has been learned from the person, support the exploration of possibilities, opportunities and resources which are available to support the person in what they want to change and achieve. From this stage of the listening, learning and thinking, the person can begin to form some clear ideas of how they want their life to look, and how they would like to be supported with it.

Connect: From the exploration which has taken place, create some ‘maps’ of assets, relationships and opportunities which the person wants to include in their planning. Make connections. Facilitate conversations. Access resources (which could include statutory funding such as a Direct Payment of Personal Health Budget) and secure assets which will support the implementation of the person’s ‘good life’ plan.

Action: Support the bringing together of the final plan. This may need to be signed off by statutory decision-makers, so it is important that the plan meets eligibility and requirements for sign-off. The plan should include costings for any paid-for elements of support, but could also include non-paid elements which still contribute towards the person’s overarching wellbeing outcomes. Once the plan is agreed, an action plan to support the implementation of supports and resources is helpful to ensure that support is put in place for the person. Ongoing support around review and update of the plan may also be helpful.

 

Support for self-funders in managing and arranging their social care

Case study

Imagineer supported a lady who had been identified as eligible for social care support. She was supported by the direct payments team from her Local Authority, but the social worker refused her a direct payment on the basis they did not believe she could manage the arrangement. This resulted in a commissioned provision being identified. The provider of the commissioned support focused on meeting contractual requirements and was not prepared to meet the woman’s needs in a personalised way. The provision broke down on two occasions. A new social worker began working with the lady and arranged for a new provider to meet her, without having a conversation with her about who she wanted to be supported by.

When the lady raised the fact that she wanted to explore other options available to her, the social worker ceased the direct payment, and she was left without support. Imagineer supported the lady to make a complaint via the Local Government Social Care Ombudsman, which was upheld and resulted in the social worker offering to carry out a new assessment. The lady refused because the whole process had been so traumatic. She decided to self-fund her own support in a way which makes sense for her, so she has self-funded a cleaner to help her with domestic tasks, and somebody to take her shopping. Imagineer provided Support Brokerage through each stage of the process until she reached the solution which made most sense for her.

If you’re interested in the range of ways in which Support Brokerage can assist Self-funders in arranging their own care & support, please contact us at: info@imagineer.org.uk

It’s #socialworkweek2022 and we wanted to take some time to acknowledge and reflect on our work alongside social workers over the past 12 years at Imagineer.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we regularly took social work students on placement from 4 different educational institutions: Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds & Bradford College.

It was really interesting watching the journey in the thinking and understanding of the social work students. At the beginning of their placement, some students would struggle to understand how they would be able to meet their placement requirements because Imagineer was not carrying out statutory Care Act Assessments; but after completing the Support Brokerage training they would begin to understand how a knowledge of the legal frameworks and the Personalisation agenda enabled them to support the people they were working alongside in a far more flexible, creative and person-centred way; enabling people to have more choice and control and to self-direct their care and support arrangements as well as developing their social connections, skills and ability to self-advocate. Support Brokerage is about far more than social care.

One of the interesting things we learned was that there was quite a difference in the course content and social work training between each university. Each student undertook the Support Brokerage training, the Person Centred planning training and the Graphic Facilitation training offered by Imagineer, giving them a great grounding in Strengths-Based approaches.

During their placements with us, some students led on different projects such as mapping accessibility around the town centre; Supporting and enabling people to participate in Voting; and Equality training. All of the students had an opportunity to join in with the ‘Beat It’ project, which was a music project set up by and determined by some of the people accessing support from Imagineer- a result of listening and determining how people wanted to spend their time and develop their skills. The students began to appreciate that by spending time with people while they were doing things they loved and following their interests- they learned a lot more about the person and understood far more about what good support could look like. They began to see creative ways of building the right support around people which enabled them to thrive and experience authentic citizenship within their local communities.

One of the principles we instilled in our student social workers was about working together and alongside each other as allies- drawing on each others skills, knowledge and experiences to enable the best outcomes for the people we were supporting.

We have worked alongside many brilliant social workers as allies- supporting the people we work alongside to get to a better place in their lives. We want to thank all of the wonderful social workers who are finding creative, flexible and person-centred ways of supporting people to live good lives, receive good support and experience overall wellbeing; recognising that enabling people to be in the driving seat of their own lives as well as their own care and support arrangements is absolutely the right thing to do.

If you’re interested in what we do at Imagineer, visit our website or our Youtube channel where you’ll find lots of interesting and engaging content.

 

 

Say hello to the flexible shape of Self Directed Support

The majority of commissioning for Adult Health and Social Care is still focused on fixed and outdated service models which are determined and designed by profit-making service providers; squeezing individual and often complex needs into a broken system which is no longer fit for purpose. The result is that people experiencing a complex range of challenges in their lives often fall into a cycle of crisis, knee-jerk commissioning responses, placement breakdown, trauma and further crisis. Is the person being supported in the system complex? Or does the current system propagate complexities?

These linear commissioning processes are still the norm. Yet we all know the world of Health and Social Care changes quickly. Let’s say goodbye to traditional commissioning processes and embrace a more flexible and individualised approach. It’s called Self Directed Support.

A world that should no longer exist

Traditional commissioning for Adult Social Care and Health started at a time when the world of Health and Social Care was more stable and financially predictable than today. It made sense to those holding the budgets to have a model which used universal needs analysis of geographic areas (‘misery maps’) as a starting point, and then went to the Provider market place to seek solutions for meeting those needs. Provider organisations jumped to attention. Commissioning budgets quickly got tied up in framework and block contract arrangements agreed via European tendering processes and costly procurement systems which were designated by service label, and need. Lots of ‘specialist’ provider services sprung up- ranging from small Learning Disability homes to private Mental Health ‘Assessment and Treatment’ facilities and blocks of flats for people with Dementia. Lots of little ‘Care Ghettos’ were created around the UK.

There was profit to be made. It attracted the Venture Capitalists. Their cost and volume discounts stifled the small locally-based, community provider organisations, charities and social good organisations (who existed to help people to live well, learn to self-advocate and uphold their rights, enjoy citizenship in their local communities and experience a good life). The Health and Social Care market became a place for the giant corporates. The individual receiving support was forgotten- buried under the swathes of corporate governance, regulation and cost efficiency measures.

Because of this system the very need for Self-Advocacy exists, and we see an ongoing advance of legal challenges such as Judicial Reviews for people within the system who are fighting for their rights.

But this model of commissioning and market-shaping is outdated and provides a perfect breeding ground for the deprivation and abuse of human rights of the very people it should be there to protect and serve. Ultimately, it is costly, damaging and just plain wrong.


Flexible commissioning and flexible budgets

Instead of a narrow linear path to services, support by hours and tasks; we argue for flexible budgets—based on genuine person-centred and strengths-based assessment. Rooted in the intrinsic motivation and aspirations of the person and reflecting the need for flexibility which comes with the very natural and human process of changing & evolving interests, changing needs and ageing; and we argue to support the development of community connections and cohesion. Effectively the same level of connection, choice, control and flexibility which other citizens are able to access and enjoy when they are not reliant on statutory funding and provision to lead a normal life.

We argue for a recognition that Support Plans which are designed primarily around the person’s strengths, passions and motivations; rather than need, deficits and risks are more likely to achieve outcomes long-term, keep the person safe and ultimately reduce their dependency on the public purse or the repeated cycles of crisis which result in the need for high-cost emergency interventions.

We argue for more flexibility and less standardisation. For more variety and opportunity to use budgets more flexibly in order to build good personalised support which is tailored to the individual, and fewer blue-printed service models from large provider organisations. (Who wants to live in a care ghetto??) We argue for people to hold and control their own budgets, with good support to manage them if needed. We argue for ordinary homes in ordinary neighbourhoods. Good support. More courage, kindness and respect for human rights. More value for people as citizens and fellow humans. More focus on the strength and opportunity of connected communities, neighbourhoods and localities as the starting place for finding solutions. We argue for local democracy and decision-making power for communities to develop and build what makes sense for them on a local level, rather than what is determined by decision-makers who live far away, hold the purse strings and don’t have any understanding or experience of what it is like to live in those communities.

We’re thinking of the brave ones out there who challenge the current system and embrace new ways of working and stewarding the public purse. We’re thinking about a world where everyone matters and everyone has a voice.

The future of commissioning

(Based on an image concept by @waitbutwhy)

We have a way forward

It’s called Self Directed Support. It’s actually been around for years. It’s embedded within current Health and Social Care legislation. It’s a right in law (Care Act 2014) for people to have it. Self Directed Support is where the person entitled to receive support is given clear information about their options, and a choice to use the financial resource allocated for their support (by their Local Authority and/or ICB) in a flexible way which makes most sense for them. Effectively, the person can design their own support plan. So why is it not the obvious first option?

It’s because we are still stuck with the old traditional systems for commissioning and contracting for support. We have very expensive Local Authority & Health departments and systems which are inefficient and not fit for purpose. We spend a lot of time and money on trouble-shooting poor commissioning and support arrangements which have not met people’s needs and have triggered the cycle of crisis. We have a pool of social workers entrenched in a focus on crisis intervention and budget cuts. There is no room for proactive or preventative approaches. Everybody is fire-fighting.

Let’s stop trying to re-invent a buckled wheel, calling it by a different name and expecting it to change things. Let’s be radically different.

Where are the some of the good solutions happening already?

Self Directed Support makes absolute sense- it connects naturally to all of these Strengths-based approaches. Let’s learn how to make life work well for everyone.

For more information about Self Directed Support, visit our website: www.imagineer.org.uk

To keep up to date with Imagineer & Support Brokerage Network, sign up for our mailing list.

People with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions face many barriers in accessing the right support to get the best quality of life and to achieve the outcomes that matter most to them. This is the case not just for health and hospice care — including the delays in referral to hospices and palliative care services and the hesitancy of people and families in accessing these services — but in terms of accessing equipment, psychological and social support, peer support groups, understanding financial entitlements, and other activities and support sources that exist in their community.

Understanding the context

Support Brokerage has a very clear ‘person focus’, doing what needs to be done to support people to get to where they want to be in life. Support Brokers work alongside people who are experiencing complicated or challenging life circumstances. They act as independent facilitators, supporting people to plan to live the life of their choice- working directly for the person and supporting them to stay in control, to understand and explore a whole range of opportunities and to confidently take action to achieve their desired outcomes.

The ultimate aim of Support Brokerage is to see people taking full control of their own lives.
We know that people with life-limiting conditions don’t have time to waste; every moment counts in your life, as you live with a limited lifespan. You want to focus on living well, doing things that you enjoy, making memories, spending quality time with those you love, and to achieve that, having good symptom control, the support of services that treat you as a unique individual, accessing benefits, homecare and other entitlements, and all your professionals working together, communicating effectively and sharing information to reduce the burden of health- and care-related admin.
You may have very little time to come to terms with your situation and so you may suddenly be thrust into a new world, a world that speaks a foreign language and seems far too clunky and complicated when you just want to receive the things you need, see the people you need to see and get on with living.

You become a “patient” and your family members instantly become “carers”. This can be tremendously traumatic, on top of the trauma of the illness and its effects on your health, body, abilities, appearance and identity.

Developing an understanding of what people need, in order to take control of
their own care & support arrangements

Liz Leach (Imagineer Development UK CIC), and Lucy Watts (Lucy Watts Ltd and Lived Experience Learning Ltd) are hosting a webinar on 15th September 2021 (10.30am-12pm) to discuss what gaps exist in the support of people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and their families.

We want to explore with people what the gaps are that exist, what difficulties they face, and for us to then see how Support Brokerage can bridge these gaps and provide additional support to get the best quality of life, the necessary care and achieve the desired goals
and outcomes for people facing these conditions.

We want to understand from people with such conditions and family members what can be done to improve their lives and experiences. The webinar will be an opportunity to explore what Support Brokerage is and how it can help people; as well as provide a space for feedback and discussion to gather people’s lived experiences- mapping out what works, what doesn’t and where improvements can be made — and what additional support is needed to achieve these improvements.

Who is this webinar for?

About the hosts:

Liz is an experienced Support Broker and the Founding Director of Imagineer, with a long history of work in Health and Social care- particularly Self-directed Support and Person-Centred approaches.

Lucy is a Support Broker, Independent Advocate, Consultant and Facilitator who lives with a life-limiting condition, extremely complex medical needs, and accesses hospice and palliative care services.

Next steps:

Meet Angie- an OT with a passion for Person Centred approaches!

Meet Angie….she’s been an Occupational Therapist (OT) for 30 years, working in NHS and (more recently), independent OT roles to support people with developing and maintaining their independence and well-being.

Angie Carter is a registered Occupational Therapist; and also an Accredited Support Broker with the Support Brokerage Network

The introduction of Personalisation within the Health and Social Care sector made absolute sense for Angie and resonated with her value base and skill set as an Occupational Therapist.

Angie’s journey of discovery led her to Support Brokerage

Angie began to explore ways of helping people to take control of their own lives within her work as an OT; and her exploration led her to reading about the concept of Independent Support Brokerage. She began to recognise that her formal OT approach fitted more with the ‘Professional Gift model’, than the ‘Citizenship model’ (which was the approach followed within Independent Support Brokerage). Angie completed her training with Imagineer as an Independent Support Broker, and she joined the Support Brokerage Network (formerly known as National Brokerage Network), which is a community of practice for Independent Support Brokers and organisations who implement the values and approaches of Independent Support Brokerage within their work.

“….here were people doing things that my OT profession has also been trying to do for years. But these people weren’t OT’s;  they were just listening and putting people at the centre of their own lives. Here I learned not to be precious about my profession. I was humbled by the skills of those around me and inspired by the passion of everyone present”….

Angie has written a detailed article about her own individual journey in becoming a Support Broker; in particular- the story of one young man whom she has worked alongside to Self Direct his own support. Angie now uses her professional skill set as an OT combined with the skills and approaches of Independent Support Brokerage to offer personalised, bespoke and enabling solutions and ideas for people to lead their lives in a way that truly makes sense for them:

“Having a life plan that was now owned by this young man….. provided everyone involved including social workers, health professionals and all his Provider services with one single focus – how he wanted his life to be, the challenges that needed to be overcome and knowledge about what worked well.”

You can read Angie’s full article here.

You can read more about Support Brokerage here.

If you’re interested in the work of Imagineer; and would like more information about what we do and how to get involved, you can sign up for our mailing list & monthly newsletter here.

The background of the National Brokerage Network

The National Brokerage Network was formed in 2003 as a response to the development of ‘Community Care (Direct Payments) Act’ in 1996. There was a will and an intention from a group of practitioners in the field of Health and Social Care across the UK to really transform and personalise the way people could experience and direct their own care & support arrangements. The name ‘National Brokerage Network’ (NBN) was adopted as a way of describing this group of forward-thinking practitioners.

‘Putting People First’ was a governmental concordat published in 2007- introducing personal budgets for the first time and helping to transform adult social care for the better.

The NBN became active in introducing the approach of Support Brokerage as a mechanism for helping people to Self-Direct their own support- offering training for people to become Independent Support Brokers, and regular mentoring sessions and meetings to further and develop the approach. A core group of members formed around the UK- many of the original members moved away to focus on other areas of development and consultancy work in Health and Social Care; and new members joined with a fresh interest in furthering the approach of Self Directed Support.

Bringing the National Brokerage Network into Imagineer

For a number of years, the National Brokerage Network existed as a separate legal entity in its own right (incorporated as Support Brokerage Network CIC in 2010, with a board of Directors) securing some initial grant funding to develop its work; but did not ever carry out any income-generating activity to become a self-sustaining organisation in its own right.

In March 2019, the board of Directors voted to dissolve the legal entity which held the NBN, and the new Chair person of the Network (Liz Leach Murphy) volunteered to continue running the Network as a sub-committee of Imagineer Development UK CIC, which is an active & thriving social enterprise. This was taken to a vote, and the board agreed unanimously that this was the best option to ensure the continued operation of the Network.

Since 2019 Imagineer has continued to operate and administer the activities of the National Brokerage Network, and we have seen significant growth and increase in its activity as a result.

Introducing a new (but familiar) name for the Network

Imagineer as a whole has been undertaking some significant changes in the past year to the website and social media presence, branding and operating activities which have been triggered in part by the Covid-19 Pandemic. One of these key changes is that the National Brokerage Network (NBN) is being re-branded and will now be known as ‘Support Brokerage Network’ or ‘SBN’.

Here is our new logo- we hope that the new name will enable people to find us more easily, and is a better description of what we do. We have kept some familiar elements of the old logo for continuity.

 

 

The Support Brokerage Network  (SBN) is a way of bringing Support Brokers and Self-Directed Support practitioners together to develop their knowledge, share best practice and learn from one another.

We’re very excited to be getting involved in some international work further afield- this fits with our wider social mission and purpose as a Community Interest Company, and it is also reflected in the name change, which no longer has the work ‘National’ in it. One of our most recent international connections is working with the Jeder Institute in Australia! We are also part of Citizen Network, who are leading on Self Directed Support initiatives in Europe, and beyond. We were very aware that ‘National’ could have limiting connotations for many esteemed colleagues who we were keen to partner with, and felt that we wanted to open up people’s perception of what the Network was about.

Changing the way we describe the National Brokerage Network is part of the reason for renaming it, because we don’t want to limit our reach, and we know that we have a lot to learn from the innovation happening within Self Directed Support in other countries.

If you are involved in any innovation or new developments relating to Self Directed Support, we’d love to hear from you!

We have been working on increasing our reach and growing the membership of the Network- partly to support the ongoing professional development of Independent Support Brokers but also to increase the opportunities to work with new people and organisations committed to the advancement of Self Directed Support and Personalisation.

As the Network grows, so does the demand for Support Brokers; and we are receiving more and more referrals into the Network from people seeking Support Brokerage.

We are now able to share referrals for new work with Brokers who are registered with the Support Brokerage Network. Please get in touch with us if you would like further information about this: info@imagineer.org.uk

We’re very excited to see the Network grow, and we hope the rebrand will open the way for some exciting new connections and conversations!

Team Imagineer

In acknowledgement of Deaf Awareness Week 2021; we wanted to share the story of a lady called Emma who is registered as Deaf, that we’ve worked alongside to provide Support Brokerage with.

How we work with Emma

Emma is registered as Deaf; and she uses British Sign Language and an Alternative & Augmentative Communication (AAC) Device to communicate. We have been working alongside her, enabling her to Self-Direct her own support, using Support Brokerage approaches. To make sure that Emma is in the driving seat for planning and designing her support, we worked out the best way to communicate to organise meetings; which included times, places and who to invite. Emma communicated about this via email as she is able to access this independently and she can reply using the technology available to her.
When we meet in person, Emma has a BSL interpreter available to her which means that she can understand what has been shared or spoken about. To make sure the meeting and the discussion remains focused on and about her, we check any ideas and suggestions put forward with her and await her response or her decision before documenting anything.
We take paper and pens with us whenever we’re meeting with her so we can document ideas and information that will form her plan. This ensures that she can see what is being recorded and can make sure it is correct- we are continuously double-checking with her all the time.
We have also learned certain communication through body language and gestures so that we can develop a mutual understanding without fully relying on the spoken word. All of these approaches have been agreed and developed with Emma as her preferred way of working and communicating with us.

How does Support Brokerage work with Deaf people, and those with hearing impairments?

Support Brokerage can be used as a range of approaches to enable people in a very individual and personalised way to take control and remain in the driving seat with making plans for their own care and support.
At Imagineer, we work alongside many different people who approach us with their individual support requirements; and we tailor our approach to them, according to what their preference for our involvement is:
-Tailored communication support
-Visual information gathering and planning techniques
-Flexible arrangements around meetings
-Involvement of Family, Friends and/or Circle of Support

If you would like to know more about Support Brokerage, please visit our website.

 

At Imagineer, our day-to-day team consists of the three of us: Liz, Mollie & Sarah.

Imagineer team image- Mollie-Liz-Sarah

Although we didn’t deliberately set out to be a female-only team (as we do have male board members, and have had male staff working in the organisation previously); we have landed here for now, and we are a formidable trio!

We wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate our little team on International Women’s Day 2021, and also to recognise and honour some wonderful women who have influenced us and continue having an impact on our work.

Imagineer started 12 years ago with Liz, who was heavily impacted by the work of many other female visionaries working for a better world- one where everyone could be equal, recognised first and foremost as citizens with gifts and skills, rights and responsibilities. Liz’s early work in person-centred planning shaped the future direction and vision of Imagineer.

Mollie and Sarah joined the team at later points (both inspired by Liz’s work)- Mollie bringing her wonderful graphic skills, and Sarah bringing her writing skills as well as many years of collective experience in the Health and Social Care sector.

Much of the work which influenced the development of Imagineer and Independent Support Brokerage in the UK came from women such as Beth Mount, who wrote many wonderful books and developed beautiful person-centred planning approaches using creative and visual techniques. One of the approaches she is well known for is the creation of beautiful quilts which help to tell a person’s story. You can read more about Beth Mount’s work and the different resources she has developed here.

Beth Mount

                                                                                                 Beth Mount: Photo Credit to www.bethmount.org

Another key influencer of our work was the wonderful Judith Snow, who was an advocate for inclusion and one of the early pioneers of Individual Budgets and Circles of Support. You can read more about Judith’s life and work here.

 

Judith Snow2

                                                                                                      Judith Snow: Photo Credit to www.inclusion.com

Connie Lyle O’Brien (and her husband John) have taken a lead in thinking and creating new ways of relating to and supporting disabled people over the past 40 years, on a global basis. In addition to developing many of the person-centred planning systems used internationally, training thousands of facilitators and health & social care workers; they have also been authors of numerous inspirational publications and resources.

Connie Lyle O'Brien

                                                                                             Connie Lyle O’Brien: Photo Credit www.inclusion.com

Marsha Forest (& her husband Jack Pearpoint) founded the Centre for Integrated Education and Inclusion Press International. Marsha Forest was a remarkable leader, advocate and champion of inclusion for all.

Marsha Forest

                                                                                                  Marsha Forest: Photo Credit www.inclusion.com

Finally, we couldn’t let this day pass without honouring and remembering our wonderful Beth Fields who was part of our team for a number of years and who is sadly no longer with us. Beth worked hard to develop and grow our ‘Beat It’ music project which started a number of years ago as a result of the people we worked alongside expressing an interest in (and a love for) music. The people who Beth worked alongside and the musicians she supported are continuing to use their gifts and skills to bring music, life, energy and fun to the world- this is an enduring legacy which will continue to have an impact in the lives of people and communities she was involved with.

One of our core team values at Imagineer is fun, and we highly value every element of our work (past and present) which enables us to continue holding this as a value. The featured photo is a screenshot of our 2020 (lockdown) Christmas party, which we had over zoom. We had takeaway & wine, played silly games together and exchanged gifts. Mollie had made beautiful personalised hand-designed team mugs for each of the three us, which you can see in the picture!

Women over the years have been responsible for many breakthroughs in societal values, equality and inclusion. They have tirelessly promoted well-being and welfare for those who often don’t have a voice. We have much to thank women for and celebrate; and we continue to honour their legacy by building on it with our own work. Today, we want to celebrate, recognise and value all of the wonderful women we are connected with through partnering in shared vision, values and activities which help to make the world a better place. There are too many of you to mention; but we see you and we are grateful for you.

We’d love to hear about women who have influenced you and your work in relation to Health and Social Care, Community Development, Well-being and Welfare. Please do get in touch with us to share your thoughts with us at info@imagineer.org.uk

Online conference event

Yesterday (16th Feb 2021), we had the privilege of attending and sharing about our work at ‘It’s our community’ online conference, hosted by Citizen Network.

We wanted to share a short summary of the event, and encourage you to visit the YouTube channel to watch the event if you haven’t already done so.

Here’s the timetable of speakers:

Speaker list

Click here to watch the full conference or any of the individual talks.

The speakers

We heard from a diverse range of speakers all bringing their perspectives about citizenship, life in the community and how social care impacts their lives- both the good and the bad experiences. Many of the stories we heard were raw and painful. They illustrated the struggle so many individuals and families go through in order to get good support, and the vilification of those people in society who experience some of the greatest challenges.

We heard from professionals working within (and external to) the statutory systems which underpin our current social care system; and we heard some great examples of innovation, creative use of resources and stories of people and communities really being able to find their own solutions which could be cost-effective and enduring.

Liz shared how 12 years of delivering Support Brokerage to people and families had demonstrated that things could be done differently and really effectively- using resources creatively, flexibly and often at a much lower cost- by placing the resources and the control in the hands of the people and communities who needed them. The solutions to people’s needs often reside within the communities where they live. The current system is based very much on the medical model and the professional gift model- focusing on need, risk, deficit and diagnostic labels. The resources we need are already there, but need to be realigned and used in a way which makes sense to the people who need them. Our social care system is still struggling with the concept of relinquishing power and control into the hands of the people who use it. We need a radical reform of social care, where there is no charge for care to the citizen. Access to care and support should be a universal right. (2:10:50 into the conference, if you wish to listen specifically to Liz)

What we learned

The summing up of the event was shared wonderfully and articulately by Simon Duffy (Centre for Welfare Reform) commenting in response to Shadow Social Care Minister- Liz Kendall; that we need to think about what the basis of a long-term new vision for social care is. What we’ve seen for three decades is a drift- that the consensus building process has failed to bring about the changes we’ve been talking about for the last few hours (during the conference). This conference was framed as a progressive vision for social care. We first need to create a coherent attractive vision that ordinary people want. That work needs to be done by working together, particularly disabled people in the community, & civil society. Nobody is making firm commitments beyond platitudes to say this is the model we want and this is how we will fund it. It needs to be properly funded for it to happen.

The vision is not hard, but it does require real work. We can evidence this by working together, and there’s a lot we can do ourselves. The other things we ultimately need national politicians to do will be easier if we can lead the way. Let’s reinvent social care.

Citizen Network will be publishing all of the films and a report following the conference.

Imagineer Training and Mentoring

Graphic Facilitation Training

Get Creative with our Graphic Facilitation Training! This is an online training course.

> Find out more and book

Support Brokerage Mentoring

Group mentoring and individual sessions can be provided for peer support with other independent brokers from around the UK.

> Find out more and book

Support Brokerage Training

The course is designed as a full programme which will give you all of the information, understanding and practical tools you need to be able to practice as an Support Broker.

> Find out more and book
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