Plan, plans, planner, planners, planned, planning…..

Plan, plans, planner, planners, planned, planning…..

self-direct is 1 year old and we are celebrating.

Last March we (the 4 co-founders of self-direct) planned to set up this social enterprise and do our bit to stimulate the social and health market-place. We wanted to make sure that people who were looking for support could have real control over and a wide choice of new and innovative services, products and much more.   Over the year we’ve worked with a large number of people from across the UK; from small to large providers across the spectrum of the social and health sector, from Local Authorities, Health Authorities, PCTs, people who have real-life experience of how social and health services affect lives and other experts and professionals.

Our events ‘Helping providers to change’ have been well received and we have had some encouraging feedback from delegates that have gone back to their respective organizations and have started to plan the changes needed to change the way they work.

For us, the way we do things is as important as what we do. We believe that changes in the social and health market-place should be driven by people with real-life experience and that any planning shouldn’t take place without people with this expertise being involved in a meaningful way. That’s why we always have associated with that experience and expertise working with us at our events. That’s why the first person I called to talk about setting up self-direct back in October 2007 was someone with that expertise, Simon Cramp, now a self-direct Director. And that’s also why I am delighted that Sarah Wood has joined us as the first self-direct Family carer expert.

Sarah is also a member of a carer led York-based organization called Lives Unlimited. A number of Lives Unlimited members are also self-direct associates. So when 2 members of Lives Unlimited paid us a visit at the end of last year to ask if self-direct would support a new initiative in York to introduce a new way of putting people in control of their lives based on the PLAN model, they were pushing on an open door. We agreed the next step should be to get a group of people together in York that was of the same mind.

Today we had the first get together of this group of likeminded people determined to put this plan into action. As Sarah said at the meeting today “plan or be planned for”. The group is a mixture of people; a number of carer experts, a few professionals but mostly people with real-life experience of social and health services and experience of how the decisions made by the gatekeepers of those services affect lives.

This first meeting, skilfully facilitated by Trish, with expert graphics produced by Charlie, took us through the PATH process (used in person center planning). PATH used with a group of people, most of who haven’t met before, felt a bit strange at times and there was a danger of it starting to feel forced and false but this was avoided by the presence of a number of carer experts who were adept at this process and kept us all on track.

Together we produced an inspiring vision of a future to plan for; a future were people with disabilities experience life as equal citizens in the community, a future were carers could relax knowing that their sons, daughters or siblings were elsewhere getting a life and not just a service, an ordinary life – accepted by and included by everyone and a future were people would look back and say things like “do you remember when we used to separate people with disabilities from everyone else, separated as children in ‘special’ schools through to adulthood when people were moved around in ‘special ’ buses” and a future were professionals now planning and working with people with disabilities and their families to bring about the changes needed to make this vision happen, could put their feet up and say “my work here is done”!

Wonderful, magic…..just like that…….no not really!!

We are now facing years of struggle and hard work to make this a reality, there is and will continue to be strong resistance to the ideas now gaining ground around personalization, choice, and control.

But with this new group coming together today I am convinced we are stronger together and I think we have a real chance to make a real difference in York.

 And finally, I have a confession to make, by the year 2025, the year the Government plans to have ensured that people with disabilities are living as equal citizens, I will be 69 years old. I am already technically an older person (over 50!) and by 2025 may well be in need of social and/or health support – so I have a vested interest in making sure we get this move do personalization right.

Old age comes to us all (if we are lucky to live that long) and I for one plan to keep fighting to make sure the plans taking us forward to 2025 are turned into action (sooner rather than later). By then I also want to be putting my feet up and be able to say “my work here is done!” and I plan to stave off the effects of old age as long so that I can to enjoy it…………speaking of which have you tried ‘Lumosity’? It’s quite legal, google it and you’ll find a set of mind games aimed at keeping the old brain working (go through the Guardian website and you’ll get a 14 day free trial) – my favorite ‘Lumosity’ mind game is ‘word bubble’, you are given 3 letters which you then have to think of as many words as possible within a limited amount of time, for instance ‘pla’……….. plan, plans, planner, planners, planned, planning….. you get the idea? Just a word of warning, it’s addictive……….

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