Perry Walker FRSA designs group conversations. He is co-founder of Talk Shop, director of Open Up and a Fellow of Involve.
Good to address a subject that most of us would not normally choose to confront. Good to learn more about something that many of us are facing now in respect of aging parents and which our children will soon have to face in respect of us.
Such was the feedback from an organiser of a Talk Shop discussion on adult social care and its funding. The discussion kit they used is funded by a Catalyst award; this blog explains how these discussions work and where the project has got to.
Early this year, I wrote a blog that made the case for having many small gatherings, often self-organised, as a complement to the citizens' assemblies that the RSA has so rightly championed. Our project demonstrates this by drawing on the citizens' assembly on the funding of adult social care that two parliamentary Select Committees commissioned last year. We wanted to contribute to the national conversation on this topic, called for by Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee. She made the call when she launched her Committee's report on the issue - its recommendations following closely those of the assembly.
We wanted many more people to be able to have the sort of rich conversations that members of the assembly had evidently had – albeit in much less time. Our starting point was the 30 hours of talk that the assembly had, the materials they used, plus some deliberative workshops that Ipsos MORI had run for the Kings Fund and the Health Foundation.
We turned this into a discussion kit that people could use for a conversation of a couple of hours, or maybe a bit longer; the kit consists mainly of a set of cards which are dealt, read out and discussed. The first part explores the experience of people who have developed care needs, tried to navigate the system and so on. The next part uses an infographic to explore some of the facts, such as that two-thirds of 'the general public' (horrid phrase!) think that social care for older people is provided by the NHS (which it isn’t) or that the number of people over 65 needing social care will all but double over the coming half a century. The final part explores the big policy issues in relation to social care and its funding, like: what should the state provide and where should the money come from?
The discussion kits are free, and we are looking for events to be held by the end of the autumn.
Some organisations that have run events have a special interest, such as the Sight Loss Council in Birmingham and the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. Others have a more general interest. University of the Third Age groups have held events in church halls and people’s homes. Someone invited his friends to a supper party to chew over the topic.
If you can’t be part of an event, or want a taster for the discussion, you can instead explore online some of the issues about adult social care and its funding covered by the discussion kit. We will collate all the results and send them to the Department of Health and Social Care, plus anyone else we can think of.
To find out more, the best way is to join our online event with the RSA’s Health, Care and Wellbeing Network at 6.30pm on Monday September 16th. You can also see a fuller description of the project on the Talk Shop website, or email Perry. There’s also a five minute film about our previous project on driverless cars available on YouTube.