Working together to be part of the solution

17th July 2018

Melanie Weatherley has been a provider of social care for 18 years, and is currently Chief Executive of Walnut Care at Home, a family owned provider of care in Lincolnshire. She is also Chair of Lincolnshire Care Association, where she represents independent and voluntary providers of care and support to Adults. Melanie is delighted to have been recently appointed as Co-chair of the Care Association Alliance. 

I joined the Out of Hospital Care Forum to represent the Care Association Alliance, which is a group in which local care provider associations can meet to share opportunities and challenges, particularly as they affect local systems and smaller organisations. I am part of the group in my role as Chair of Lincolnshire Care Association. I felt it was important that the voice of small and medium sized care providers was heard, as it’s often lost in the melee. SMEs (subject matter experts) are flexible and creative and are often best placed to try new approaches.

I am also Chief Executive of Walnut Care at Home, and I am delighted to represent both organisations on the Forum.

My role in the Forum…

Being a member of the Forum is beneficial for my work as it allows me to step away from day-to-day matters. It gives me a more strategic view of the health system as a whole. It also allows me to interact with different parts of the complex system, including parts that I wouldn’t normally come across. Care providers rarely see the organisations that work with data within the NHS, so it has been great to meet companies like Optum, Healthcare at Home and ZPB Associates.

In my Care Association Alliance role, Improving the health of local people through community-based care, has helped me to explain to providers why they and we as a sector, need to be at the table, and why we should be thinking more strategically and importantly, be part of the solution. It has also empowered me to speak the same language as some of my other health colleagues and understand the problems of different sectors.

In my role at Walnut Care, it has given a supportive and informative environment to learn from best practice and what I could be doing differently. It has also allowed me to see what other areas are doing, and approaches that don’t immediately seem transferable, but after discussed could be translated to social care situations.

It is reassuring to know that across the health sector we are all facing similar problems and levels the playing field. For example, workforce is a complex and difficult issue for all of us.

What’s next?

The paper helps us to look beyond the obvious and find answers grounded in reality. It is an evidence-based practical guide that can be used as a blue print for starting conversations. It also gives users of social care a reassurance that the sector is working together to solve problems and collaborating more widely to solve problems.

The paper is the first step along the way for the sector understanding what social care providers do, which has been possible through our involvement in the Forum.

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