Membership and Purpose

We are a mixed group of people from voluntary and statutory sector working together on behalf of the residents of Barking and Dagenham.

Our objective is to:

Design, test, and spread innovations that:

  • Make it easier for Barking & Dagenham residents to find the help that they need
  • Make providing help more fulfilling.

In the first workshops we will be:

  • Establishing strong relationships and trust between workshop participants
  • Use the synergy of the group to find some quick wins.

Themes and Actions in second meeting

(1) Feedback

  • Red Cross find that only around 10 per cent of service users give feedback
  • Other local authorities, e.g. Redbridge, have a ‘user involvement service’
  • Healthwatch provide a similar function for CCGs and Health Trusts
  • Some organisations run focus groups with users
  • Others have continuous feedback, and the results are striking. Users often feel overwhelmed with the amount of support they are given, whereas services worry that they are not doing enough
  • Engagement with users is a form of inclusivity, bringing in residents whose voice is not heard
  • Too often we treat people as vulnerable, whereas they have great insights into how we can do better
  • How do we share these different sources of learning so that there is collective improvement across the Borough
  • Action
  • There are two types of feedback being discussed. (A) Reflections on how services work, and how they can be improved; (B) Continuous feedback from residents after each interaction, asking ‘how was that for you?’, ‘what could I/We do better?’
  • A small sub-group will meet in January to develop some ideas that can be tested, and report back to the main group.

(2) Reducing social isolation for dementia users

  • There are 271 people diagnosed with dementia living alone in the Borough (there will be more who are not diagnosed)
  • There are several innovations underway in the Borough, e.g. Social work students visiting isolated people to learn and connect
  • There is strong support for building on the design process established by Sonia (lead commissioner), and using it as an exemplar of what could be tried – in terms of testing and learning and changes in practice – with other groups across the Borough
  • However, we have to ensure that any such design process is shared between the social sector and public systems (health as well as Council) involving for example the carers group, Re-connections and takes into account ideas from other boroughs, e.g. Priti’s knowledge of befriending service in Redbridge and broader social change, e.g. the role of technology.
  • Action: Michael will work with Sonia and Terry to develop a design process that can begin in January and report back to the wider group.

(3) How and why we connect with residents

  • There is a natural concern about the co-ordination of services when people have many professionals in their lives. Coming back to Terry’s words, they feel overwhelmed
  • There is another challenge of why and how we connect with residents. Is it to make sure they are referred to already overwhelmed services (that will eventually overwhelm the resident)? Or is it to establish a relationship that will allow the resident to address their own challenges?
  • The latter is increasingly called a ‘relational worker’. The role is essentially what a social worker used to do before the onset of safeguarding and greater professionalisation. There is very little referring onto service. The relational worker walks alongside the resident.