“Getting Social Businesses in on the Act” – Part 5 of 7

9. Further routes into the Act: Co-production and Information, Advice and Assistance services


The concept of co-production sits high up in the whole new approach to care and support laid out in the Act and refers to a way of working whereby practitioners and people work together as equal partners to plan and deliver services. It is positioned as an empowerment tool for people delivering services as well as people requiring services.

There are a number of ways of doing co-production but essential to fulfilling the duty of the Act is an approach based on co-production principles which:

  • Recognises people as assets and as having a positive contribution to make to the design and operation of services.
  • Supports and empowers people to get involved with the design and operation of services.
  • Empowers people to take responsibility for, and contribute to, their own well-being. Ensures that practitioners work in partnership with people to achieve well-being outcomes at an individual and service level.
  • Involves people in designing outcomes for services.

Co-production principles and practices are intended to build support and care services which are created through the shared interests and common commitment of people with an investment in it.

The message for social businesses is ‘be co-production’, as technical guidance on delivering the Act places the co-production principles squarely with social enterprises, co-operatives, user led services and the Third Sector (which local authorities now have a duty to promote – Section 16 of the Act).

Taking the co-production approach will result in a wide variety of people with experience, skills and knowledge participating in the design and operation of services – an approach that social businesses can easily champion. Harnessing the approach from the 6th April particularly in discussions with local authorities on the population assessment, social businesses will be one of the vehicles through which to involve people in new care and support services. If social businesses continue to engage people and subsequently engage them with local authorities, then you are in a strong position for partnerships and new business opportunities stemming from the Act.

Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA) services

A further new duty on local authorities is to provide people with Information and Advice relating to care and support and Assistance in accessing care and support. IAA services are designed to identify and target people at key points in their lives via information, advice and then assistance through services that offer early intervention and prevention to reduce escalation of care and support, and make a contribution to personal well-being outcomes. It is foreseen that social businesses will have a stakeholder’s interest in the content and delivery of the IAA services.

IAA services are to play a key role engaging people in identifying the preventative activities to help them realise their well-being. Importantly and crucially for social businesses to be able to support effective preventative services, people will need to locate information about the services and how also to access them. IAA must promote early intervention and prevention, while the information, advice and assistance service is considered a preventive service in its own right.

Regional Partnership Boards will lead on how to design, plan and develop the model for information advice and assistance service that will ensure people find information easy to access even if they are living in another area of Wales. To echo the Code of Practice for Part 2 of the Act, the population assessment will draw on the IAA service to understand what care and support people need and in a reciprocal manner the assessment will identify the range and level of services required to fill future needs.

The Social Services Improvement Agency, Data Unit Wales and various Welsh local authorities have worked in partnership to develop Dewis Cymru – an information and advice website covering social care and well-being services in Wales. The site is intended “to support the successful delivery of the new requirements placed on local authorities, around Information, Advice and Assistance. The site is live across North Wales, while resources for other parts of Wales will be added during 2016. Visit the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) for more background information and check out Dewis Cymru here www.dewis.wales.

The new Act states a greater preference for Direct Payments and tomorrow’s blog includes a case study on an innovative approach to social care via a co-operative owned and controlled by its members who use Direct Payments.

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