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News from our Managing Director

See below for the latest news from Medequip's Managing Director - David Griffiths. For upcoming events, please visit our Events Calendar page.

Date:

David Griffiths: Co-production and Community Engagement at Medequip

David Griffiths - Managing Director (Medequip)

In my last blog on why language matters I said Medequip will never make claims about co-production, instead we would make sure our partners and people who use our various services could speak for themselves.

So, I was very pleased to hear in National Co-production Week (5-9 July) that, in one of our contract areas, we are working with the local Healthwatch to collect people’s experiences of using our service. This is a great piece of joint-working.

Whilst Medequip has a long history of keeping people independent for longer, it is the Healthwatch organisation in each area that has the skills, and indeed the duty, to enable people to shape, influence and improve NHS and social care services.

I look forward to working with the commissioners and Healthwatch to continue building on the efforts of a great many people who have kept the services of both organisations operating in such difficult times.

In addition, Medequip is working with a community development organisation to make sure we have a model of feedback that involves the wider community too. I’m very excited about this work.

Lots of people and organisations, including Medequip are rightly talking about “working with the community”, and we have already taken some practical steps towards this. For example, we recently made a commitment to work with the Huddersfield Giants Community Development Foundation.

But as I talk to people across the country, in areas where we already work, and in areas where we think we could provide a great service, I’m learning that “working with the community” means many different things.

That’s why I asked for help.

Each area has its own unique organisations and challenges as well as dealing with many common issues.

The pace of NHS and social care integration is different.

Some areas have more well-developed infra-structure and funding arrangements to support the voluntary sector. Rural and urban areas are obviously different, but so too are the large metropolitan areas.

For a large organisation like Medequip this means arranging our work on co-production and community engagement flexibly, building our skills and supporting our people. Sometimes it means thinking small, sometimes big. Sometimes technology and data will be the answer, sometimes it will only play a small part.

Whatever the case. I promise that myself, and Medequip, will be curious, ask questions and listen carefully before jumping in with our (my) ideas on what’s needed.

So, to finish, recently I was pleased to see a potential Local Authority partner requesting bidders show how they would use an “ethnographic approach” to developing the service. Someone we work with described this as the process of “deep hanging around with people”.

I think he means getting to know people and listening to them and I think that’s another great way Medequip can help people stay independent for longer.

If you are an existing or potential partner of Medequip, or use our contract or retail services why not get in touch to let me know what you think.

Date:

David Griffiths: My Language Matters

Language stock image

A few things I've learned

Some time ago I realised that Medequip needed to set out on a journey. "Sensible thinking" I hear you say, using a road analogy for a health and social care logistics company.

The company had grown to be the largest provider of Integrated Community Equipment Services in the country. With nearly 1000 employees, 40 contracts delivered from 23 depots, new services in development and a turnover of nearly £190 million.

But this wasn’t a journey to get bigger, or faster, or anything you could measure easily.

This would be a journey to be more curious, to think smaller and to connect with people differently.

This is where it gets interesting. We started working with a consultant, but it seemed he was using a different language. When I said customers, he thought I meant Service Users. He called my customers partners, and the Service Users, well he referred to them as people who used services.

We’ve all realised we have to understand how our use of language affects people and the way we think about them.

I learned that language can create assumptions.

So, we agreed to improve our approach to working with people, to getting them more involved in how the business worked.

We have experience of running and being involved in surveys, consultations and Service User forums. But now we are going a few steps further and learning how to co-produce with people.

So, then I had to learn about the ladder of co-production, and how hard it is to climb.

We’re working with a number of organisations to help us get better and our experiences responding to the pandemic taught us a lot. But co-production? We’re not there yet.

In fact, it’s best not to think too much about it, just listen to people, be curious about their lives and always be open and honest with them.

I’ve learned that when the time comes, other people can tell us when we have co-produced something, in the meantime we won’t say it about ourselves. In a future blog I hope to be able to tell you all what difference this journey has made, to the people we support, their families, the communities they are part of and the other organisations that work with them.

For now, I’m learning the language of outcomes. That most elusive of concepts.

There's lots of help out there, and Adult Social Care, Health and Public Health have very clear outcomes frameworks and CECOPS are working on this. Most recent tenders reference them all, along with their own maintenance outcomes, improvement outcomes, outcomes for people, communities and systems.

But of course, people still want to know how much and how quickly.

We are engaging with and expecting to do some work with an organisation who have a background in community development. We’ve learned a lot just from talking to them.

They talked about the “meaningful moments” Medequip staff have with people who use the service and the phrase “smiles given for miles driven” popped into my head.

Now that’s my kind of language.

– David Griffiths, Managing Director

Date:

Working Together to Improve Health and Social Care For All

David Griffiths - Managing Director

The government has published a paper setting out legislative proposals for a Health and Care Bill. In his recent blog, Managing Director David Griffiths explains why Medequip wants so see a focus on behaviours, as well as policy and legislation.

As a family-owned business operating since 1998, Medequip has worked through many policy changes in health and social care. Over this period we have always worked in partnership with contracting authorities, the people who use our services and the many organisations working to support them. 

The most recent paper on the subject (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-improve-health-and-social-care-for-all) is hard to argue with. Who wouldn't support integration and innovation if it helps to improve health and care for all? 

But has this Government and the NHS learned the lessons of the previous NHS reorganisations? 

Is it simply a shuffling of responsibilities with only lip-service paid to the fundamental challenges facing our society and the behaviour change needed to address them? At Medequip we see those challenges every day. At Medequip we reflect on our behaviour every day. 

For example, does this policy and the impending legislation deal with the systemic issues that challenge true pooled budget arrangements? I know they are only one aspect of integration but we feel there is more that could be done.

Integrated Community Equipment Service budgets are a longstanding example of pooled budgets. The theory behind them is simple. It can be a fruitless exercise trying to work out whether it is the NHS budget or social care budget that should fund particular items of community equipment and even more complicated to establish which budget benefits in the long-term. So, much simpler to pool the budget, focus on outcomes and share the risks of an overspend. 

Even with these longstanding arrangements and history of partnership working, we are seeing increasing requests to separate out health and care spend. With years of underfunding the pressure had to come out somewhere. Budget pressures have damaged the trust between partners. 

We work with over 40 contracting authorities, countless public, private and voluntary sector providers and a whole warehouse full of different suppliers and manufacturers. Through this, we have learned one thing about true partnership working. It happens when people trust each other. When they take the time to understand each other's position, challenges and cultures. 

Then, and only then will we achieve more by working together than we do trying to address the challenges individually.

Without that trust, the system will grow layers and layers of bureaucracy, financial controls and governance. Not only between the partners, but between the organisations and the people we are here to serve and support. 

So, whilst commentators debate whether the policy does enough to address social care as the poor relation, the merits of "a duty to collaborate" and the technical challenge of having two parallel governance structures for Integrated Care Systems, we at Medequip would encourage policy makers to focus on supporting the behaviours that grow trust between organisations so that we can better earn the trust of the people we are here to serve. 

While that debate happens, we will continue to deliver, service and collect over 4 million items of equipment a year, to listen to and learn from the 1.3-million people we support each year, and work in partnership with those that trust us to provide public services on their behalf. 

If you would like to work in partnership with Medequip, why not contact me or one of my trusted team at david.griffiths@medequip-uk.com.

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