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.
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 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.
Angie is now part of the Support Brokerage Network, and 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:
You can read Angie’s full article here.
You can view Angie’s Support Broker profile 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 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.
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.
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.
Membership of the Network offers some of the following benefits:
✔ Work opportunities
✔ Sharing best practice
✔Training & events
✔ Use of SBN logo
✔ Profile on SBN directory
✔ Free resources
Membership of the Support Brokerage Network (SBN) provides members with access to the membership area of our website where they can have access to a whole range of tools and resources to support people with Self Directing their own Support, Person-Centred Planning Approaches and Community Connecting. As an example of how some of the resources can be used; recently we have been working with James to start building a Person-Centred Plan. James is working towards moving into his own home with a team of staff supporting him. He has very clear ideas about what he wants his support to be like, and some brilliant goals for what he wants to do with his life.
To support James to express himself, we used the following tools (from the resources in the membership area of the website) with him to capture his views and ideas:
✓ Working/ Not working
✓ Getting in the way!
✓ Good support for me
James used these tools to support conversations with his social worker where they began to develop his plan together. Using the tools enabled James to bring power to his words!
SBN membership is currently free until April 2022. Why not sign up as an individual or organisation to gain access to our brilliant resources?
Over the past year, we have trained over 100 new people to be Independent Support Brokers. Once somebody has completed their training and accreditation, we encourage them to join the Support Brokerage Network and register with us to stay connected into the community of practice. Once somebody has received their accreditation from Support Brokerage training, they can be registered on our Support Broker Directory.
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 on the directory. Please get in touch with us if you would like further information about this: firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
Leaders and decision-makers within the health and social care sector generally grasp (and subscribe to) the concept of Personalisation and Self-Directed Support; but often feel ‘stuck’ in relation to the systems, structures and processes that they are required to work within.
Having a simple lens by which to review policy and practice could be a catalyst for real and lasting change.
Let’s explore this in a little more detail.
Independent Support Brokerage is an approach which strongly aligns with the theory of self-determination and was first developed by families of people with complex needs, called the Woodlands Parents’ Group in British Columbia, Canada in the 1970s.
When the person is in the driving seat of their own life, amazing things can happen; and solutions and opportunities can be discovered which were not even considered through the narrow lens of commissioned provider services and statutory provision from Health and Social Care. Elements of Support Brokerage exist in many different models and approaches, but authentic and truly Independent Support Brokerage is rooted in a wide range of Person-Centred Practice and Strengths-Based Approaches such as:
Some of the barriers and challenges presented by the current Health and Social Care system include:
Our experience as practitioners of Independent Support Brokerage has shown that many of these barriers and challenges can be overcome when the following conditions are present:
The mechanisms and legal structures enabling these conditions to be present already exist, and it is happening in small pockets around the UK.
So why isn’t it happening everywhere? There is a growing groundswell of momentum towards the radical transformation of the welfare state. The Health and Social Care sector forms one part of the puzzle. There are many refrains of ‘Coproduction’, ‘Personalisation’, ‘Strengths-Based Approaches’ and ‘community development’ being sung by different groups wanting to see change. If we gather our voices together collectively and sing as a choir; we could weave our harmonies together to create a symphony of citizenship, inclusion and equal rights for all.
Do you want to join the chorus?
We are in the process of developing a set of quality standards which map across to other aligned quality standards and outcomes indicators for the health and social care sector. Visit our website: https://www.imagineer.org.uk/ to sign up for updates; and read our latest paper: ‘What does ‘good’ look like? to find out more.
Liz Leach Murphy is the Founder of Imagineer Development UK CIC, Chair of the National Brokerage Network and a Freelance Consultant working on personalisation within the Health and Social Care sector/community space.
Sarah Holmes is a Freelance Consultant working on personalisation within the Health and Social Care sector/community space; and a Director of Imagineer Development UK CIC
Both Liz and Sarah are practitioners, trainers and coaches in Independent Support Brokerage and consultancy for Strengths-Based Approaches with collectively over 40 years of experience in the Health and Social care and community sectors.
Imagineer Development UK CIC is a social enterprise based in the North of England with a national reach; originally set up as a testbed for Independent Support Brokerage in the UK. Imagineer is the hosting organisation for the National Brokerage Network, which is a community of practice for Independent Support Brokers. Imagineer provides a range of training in Support Brokerage, Person-Centred and Strengths-Based Approaches.
Further reading: What does ‘good look like?: https://www.imagineer.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/What-does-good-look-like.pdf
Sign up to our mailing list to be kept updated on our work in developing quality standards for Person-Centred practice and Self-Direction: https://www.imagineer.org.uk/
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