The journey to a new operating model for adult social care in Northamptonshire is well under way with successful trials already demonstrating the benefits of the new approach which puts people at the centre of the decision-making process.

This transformation work has been taking place at the same time as Northamptonshire’s councils work towards creating two new unitary authorities: North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council, which are due to come into existence on 1 April 2021.

The new operating model moves the service to a strengths-based approach, which means seeing the person and their strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses, assessments and services.

This is being implemented through the ‘three conversations model’, which aims to remove the traditional assessment for services and create a new culture where practice is structured into three conversations. The aim is to move the focus away from what’s wrong, and to think differently, use different language and put the person back in the centre. In short, it’s about asking what matters, rather than what’s the matter, and about focusing on what people can do.

What are the three conversations?

Conversation one: Listen and connect. This is about listening closely to the individual and understanding what really matters to them. It’s also about connecting them to local resources and support that helps them to get on with their chosen life.

Conversation two: Work intensively with people in crisis. This is about finding out what needs to change urgently to help someone to regain control of their life and working with them to build the things they need into a plan, as well as supporting them to make that change.

Conversation three: Build a good life. This conversation asks: what does a good life look like? What resources, connections and support will enable the person to live that chosen life? And how can the person be helped to build a plan to grown and progress throughout their life?

Starting with two new innovation sites, one in Kingsthorpe, Northampton and the other in Corby, volunteers started to test this new approach, working closely with partners and the community. Good results have been seen very quickly, with people who have been supported saying just how much difference this new approach means to them. Colleagues, partners and one of the people directly affected by these changes explain more about the impact this has had in this video below.

Following the successful trials, this new way of working has now been implemented across the whole of Northamptonshire and, alongside partners, accessible hubs have been developed within the heart of local communities. The adult social care structure has been reviewed and adapted to meet the needs of the new approach:

• Teams supporting people to live as independently as possible by connecting them to their communities: Community Team, Inclusion Team, Learning Disabilities Team.
• Short-term services promoting independence: Reablement services, short-term services.
• Teams supporting people to get home from hospital or short-term beds: Hospital assessment team.

Katie Brown, Acting Director of Adult Social Care at Northamptonshire County Council, said: “One of the real successes of the changes we have made has been the way in which we have been able to work collaboratively with partners to ensure we support people without multiple hand offs and referrals. This has improved the outcomes that we have been able to support people to achieve. Over the next few weeks our teams, who are now based in communities across the county will start to make contact with you about what they are doing and how you may want to work with them in the future so please feel free to ask them any questions.”