Social care future – can the future be personal and human?

By Sam Clark, Chief Executive Local Area Coordination Network

I said I’d write a blog for this series on #socialcarefutureages ago and Martin has kept gently reminding me (nagging) but there is a reason (excuse) for my delay.

Partly, it’s because so much has been written about the future of social care it’s hard to know where to start, and what I can add to the discussions. If I am honest, it’s mostly because what I want to see is not particularly clever or grand in its scope or design.

I want to see a future social care built on relationships and relational ways of working.


By that I mean designing and creating systems and organisations which focus on building and maintaining positive relationships at every level –  between staff, managers, partners, carers –  and most of all with those who currently have the least influence: the people that social care is there to support.

A social care system focused on building relationships will look at people’s own vision of a good life, as well as helping people to maintain or build the relationships that will support this vision. It will recognise that the people who co-produce services will see and discuss these services as equals on an ongoing basis and be accountable to one another. Systems that value relationships will end the horror of “selling” someone’s support to a new provider, because they will realise the support they help create is not a commodity.

Social care built on relational ways of working will mean that people can build trust, acknowledge and deal with power, and focus the effort on all the human-sized things we know really matter.  People working within social care, and the people they work alongside will have their relationships acknowledged and affirmed. Power and influence will be more evenly distributed. We will talk about people not cases.

For those employed by the social care system, work will become more human-sized and meaningful,  turnover and vacancy rates will be reduced, and responsibility more evenly spread.

Like many of the ideas presented so far, I believe that to fix our broken or dysfunctional system, we should reunite the “what” we do with the “how” we do it. By using the language and actions of relationships, we acknowledge the simple truth at the heart of our work, whilst opening ourselves to the enormous complexity of what it means to be a human who cares about what happens to another human. Social care is all about people, their relationships, and their well-being, after all.

Although “relationships” may not sound as whizzy as some transformational technologies, I think placing them at the heart of our work will be life changing for everyone involved.



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