Transforming Care is the government’s national programme to improve services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, who display behaviour that challenges. The aim is to make sure more people are living in the community, with the right support and close to home.
While many Transforming Care Partnerships have involved people with learning disabilities and their families, Oxfordshire TCP is about to go one step further by having a family carer and somebody who has a learning disability co-chairing the board.
This is not something that has happened overnight. It is the result of many years of hard work by local user-led charities, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxfordshire County Council, and others – who have put aside their differences and worked together to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities.
Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OxFSN) and My Life My Choice are both user-led charities based in Oxfordshire. We were invited to be part of the Transforming Care Partnership Board from the outset and attend as a partnership called ‘Real People, Real Voices’. We attend alongside Autism Oxford, a charity for people with Autism.
Pam Bebbington, one of two My Life My Choice representatives on the TCP Board, said she “thinks it’s a really good idea to include people with learning disabilities. We have knowledge about what it’s like to actually use these services, which is something that other people in the room don’t have.”
Gail Hanrahan, Programme Manager for Oxfordshire Family Support Network and family carer, says, “We are paid to attend the TCP Board. Proper consultancy rates, not the usual token payment and it was written into the constitution that the Board isn’t quorate if we’re not there. This was really important to us as it set out right from the start that we were valued as equal partners.
It needs to be recognised though that being part of this Board was initially very difficult and a big step for both charities. Oxfordshire was in the process of transferring learning disability providers and we had a major distrust of the outgoing provider. Given the recent history in the county just sitting round the same table with them meant we potentially risked our own reputations. We didn’t take this step lightly but the acknowledgment of this, from the CCG, County Council and the incoming provider helped enormously. We also felt we had a unique opportunity to set a precedent for the future and begin working positively with the new provider.
This year I was invited to Chair the Board after the current Chair steps down at the end of March. I agreed to do it, but only with a Co-chair from My Life My Choice by my side. As we attend the Board as partners through Real People, Real Voices it wouldn’t have entered my head to do it any other way.”
Paul Scarrott is the other My Life My Choice representative, and soon to be Board Co-chair. He says, “I was really proud to be asked to chair. It shows how much our voices are valued. With Gail’s support, I am looking forward to making the meetings more inclusive and holding providers to account.”
Gail adds, “From April we will also have another parent representative from OxFSN on the board. As the mother of a young man who has been in an ATU she brings an enormous amount of expertise with her and will be welcome addition to the Board. My Life My Choice will continue to have a representative on the Board too, meaning there will be four of us altogether.
Both organisations are really excited about this development. We see it as not only an opportunity to hold those who should be delivering transforming care to account but also as a chance to ‘model’ what real inclusion looks like.”
Written by: Gail Hanrahan (Programme Manager for Oxfordshire Family Support Network and Family Carer), Paul Scarrott and Pam Bebbington (My Life My Choice), and Kate Tokley (Communications Coordinator for My Life My Choice).