R - for RETROGRADE?
Or, meaning RESPECTFUL of ‘Service Users’ and carers? Also, R for RESPONSIBLE, RIGOUROUS, RESOURCEFUL - and paying heed to RESEARCH (that already exists) into best practise; and, REVIEWING - honestly - what has brought us to this point.
Could E mean ENDANGERING years of good - actually, excellent - work, by existing providers?
Or, E for ENLIGHTENED, ENTERPRISING, EMPOWERING, ENDURING - and ENGAGING, on a cross-party basis.
That’s care. And support?
Is it to be S: “Sorry, but the Process was robust.”
Or to be SUPPORTIVE, SUSTAINABLE (having been built correctly and with SKILLFUL negotiation) - and SOUND; SAVINGS? Yes - where achievable: but not at any cost.
U: For UNDERMINING?
Or, U for UNDERSTANDING?
P: POLITICALLY DIVIDED?
Or P for PRIORITISING the needs of a large and very important social care group of citizens. Also, for POTENTIAL - to create a model in Edinburgh of how PROCUREMENT should be carried out.
And another P for PROACTIVE (instead of reacting to failure to deliver); also, PERSONALISATION (as though people really matter); PRACTICAL solutions that also care; and, for the PROPOSED RATE of Direct Payments - ensuring that they are based upon accurate figures (that really should be available now).
And O for OBSTRUCTING ‘best practise’?
Or for OBSERVING - having real insight into how decisions made today impact upon ‘Service Users’? And O for OUTSTANDING - as hopefully the OUTCOMES of all this can be. For, it’s been a protracted, expensive, exhausting and highly distressing exercise - and the “Lessons Learned” - as already expressed by all representative groups present today, and previously - should result in an admission that the Council got it wrong - but that, right now, Councillors are beginning to put it right (through proper consultation).
This brings us to R again: to mean RAGE - at not being heard?
Or, RECOGNITION of ‘Service Users’, those who support them, and existing ‘providers’; R also for REPUTATION of the Council - both now and in the future; and, R for RIGHT MOTIVES; RIGHT ACTIONS; and, again, for RATES: payments to meet the needs of ‘Service Users’ - as is their entitlement.
Is T to mean “Tender” - a process that doesn’t treat people as though they matter?
Or, T for TENDER - as in gentle, and caring, and sensitive: qualities that can get completely lost in big business models. And, for TRANSPARENCY; and for TRANSFORMING the way that services are provided - in a creative way (through all concerned really working together). Also, T for the proposed TWO-PHASE APPROACH: please, please, please let this be so well thought out and implemented in Phase One that we’re not going to have to deal with a catastrophe and damage limitation, in Phase Two.
And, finally (as a colleague mentioned to me - at last week’s Council meeting) - the need for TRUTH & RECONCILIATION - beginning right now, in this Chamber.
In the end, CARE & SUPPORT should mean what it says.
As I said, today we have a choice: to begin to do things differently - and to do them so well that other Authorities will not continue saying: “We’re not going to do ‘An Edinburgh’” but, rather, they’ll want to say “Let’s do it the Edinburgh way (but let’s not replicate all the Council’s initial dreadful mistakes); for after a horribly bad start - and then with the considerable help and positive influence of ‘service users’ and their supporters - they got it right.”
That would be something to celebrate.
And then an earlier one
REPORT ON COUNCIL
In the absence of a certain other report - or that’s to say it’s confidential nature - we had to write our own. It loosely takes the form of a school report. It’s not directed at the higher achievers amongst the Council, but at the ‘28’ who voted against our amendment on 19th November 2009. We have also taken into consideration that those same Council members do work hard in many areas.
However, their average achievement in the ‘Care & Support’ modules has been 30% (not 70%). They vowed to do a lot better and were extensively questioned over their ability to deliver in various key areas. We shall quickly allude to each before summarising.
MATHS: very keen, initially, but wrongly thought that there was no need to continuously apply themselves to the subject. Found to copy figures from their peers, shuffle them around, add them up and take away the number they first thought of…or, that’s how it seems when studying the results - which are the wrong answers. The legacy is serious - it’s the proposed setting of Direct Payments at too low a rate.
Guidance note on calculations: in future, please show all workings out (together with all relevant source material - preferably on the same page as answers).
THE THREE ‘R’S: RIGOUR, RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY: could do much better - we’ll return to this.
SOCIAL SKILLS and GOOD CITIZENSHIP: to embrace integrity, compassion, ability to listen. There really is room for improvement because there should be a far more finely-tuned awareness of the problems encountered by the most vulnerable individuals amongst us, and an honouring of best practice, in any elected position - to offer quality support (even in a climate of ‘cutbacks’). Therefore, much work still to be done in these subjects.
HISTORY: There needs to be a far greater awareness of contemporary issues - and a willingness to learn from and move on from any social systems or policies that just do not work and can, in fact, cause great damage - specifically, the tendering of ‘Care & Support’ services.
LAW STUDIES: These should be extended to incorporate Human Rights - in their widest context. Council must wholeheartedly meet all legal requirements - no more looking for loopholes (as can happen when a process has run out-of-control and turned into a monster).
SPORT: Perhaps this is improving, but can be a bad sport; has been known to walk out of meetings - thereby leaving serious, urgent and tremendously important questions unanswered.
MEDITATION: This should be a requirement of Office - and particularly before any Committee Meeting (but there seems to have been low take-up in this subject).
PHILOSOPHY: To borrow a quote: “Any fool can make things complicated; it takes a genius to make things simple.” - E F Schumacher. This is a project for the current term. The Scottish Parliament is working on this too - regarding Procurement and also the whole subject of Eligibility.
DANCE CLASSES: Council need to learn to tread lightly on our hopes and dreams - especially those of ‘service users’ - both now and in the future. Never again should anyone feel such despair that they are made to feel so extremely anguished that they’ve even thought it’s not worth living. This has actually been expressed as a consequence of ‘the tendering process’ - more than once.
DIVINITY: To look for it in all things needs to be our motto - and to act with inspiration.
And now we expect Council to achieve at least 70% (not 30%) - aiming much higher across all these subjects. This brings us back to the three ‘R’s:
RIGOUR: in ensuring that the process is honest and transparent and truly consultative.
RESPECT: for all those who can themselves achieve greatly - with quality care and support, and when given true choice.
RESPONSIBILITY: to meet these requirements in a fair and supremely intelligent way; to not generate confusion and, therefore, crisis mismanagement. Even recently, the Funding Independence Team have had to take on such huge levels of work - in advising about Direct Payments (at a time of great uncertainty) that some workers were not properly briefed, did not have the time, and were not perhaps experienced enough to deal with such complex and indeed sensitive issues. Result: some empowerment, yes - but also a lot more uncertainty; and this is still the case.
Finally, is the cost of this report negligible? Or perhaps free? No, it is not. The cost is, in fact, incalculable in terms of the stress and anxiety caused - over many months - to ‘service users’, families and other carers, ‘providers’, and also to those higher achievers on the Council (who have helped us thus far), in this hugely important matter.
So, “Could Do Better” is a massive understatement. If they feel that they can now meet all these requirements - we will support them. If not, then we are not talking about detention - or suspension. We’re talking about likely expulsion.
With respect, they need to demonstrate that they can see what’s gone wrong, admit the mistakes, and continue to work damn hard to put it all right: starting now. Then, there could be genuine respect all ‘round.
Head Teacher: Miss Stephen