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Listening and learning from local people

We recognise how important it is to be working to continually improve adult social care. It’s important that changes, developments and improvements are meaningful to local people and that changes to services result from listening to people. As well as an annual adult social care survey and ongoing customer feedback, we hold regular engagement events. In 2019 we held a key engagement event. The council and Dudley Healthwatch co-hosted this event for the People’s Network. 

The People’s Network are long established and have been instrumental in shaping and improving adult social care services in Dudley for many years. Their main purposes are to:

•    Network in a positive way with people who have similar interests in social care
•    Have discussions and share knowledge about local services
•    Inform policies and influence what local services look like
•    Have real opportunities to feedback to decision makers
•    Test the accuracy and readability of public documents before  they go live
•    Bring and share powerful stories, journeys and experiences

We held this event because we wanted to talk to the People’s Network and wider community about adult social care. We were interested in the experiences that people had of engaging and using adult social care services. We also wanted to give people an overview of future plans for adult social care and the draft of the Local Account, get their views and ideas to help us shape and improve the plans.  

A range of voluntary and council services also set up stands to promote their services and help improve awareness of what they could offer people. 

Central to the event was finding out the audience’s experience of adult social care. A wide range of opportunities was provided to share opinions on a range of topics within adult social care. 

People were asked “What does adult social care mean to you” at the event registration. The full list of responses are listed below but the overarching consensus was that adult social care was there to help people although a number of responses weren’t very positive. 

All of the responses were typed up as they were provided and projected live onto the screen for the audience to read.- these can be seen below.

What Does Adult Social Care mean to you? 


Table Exercise

Good ideas can come from anyone and everyone regardless of their background, profession, experience or education can have an idea that can revolutionise the way that services are provided. With that principle in mind we wanted to open the floor to the audience and give everyone the chance discuss a number of questions at the table they were sitting at. The responses were written down by a facilitator at each table who also helped ensure that everyone had a chance to put forward their ideas. 

One of the most important issues raised was communication from Dudley Council to Dudley’s deaf community. A common misconception that was raised is that providing information in a written format is a sufficient method of communication. Attendees highlighted that written English is often a deaf person’s second language and that there are significant differences in the structure and grammar of written English and British Sign Language (BSL). 

A number of comments were contributed that provided examples of where poor communication between health and social care staff had resulted in a poorer services being provided for deaf people. One person commented that their elderly mother had become very isolated in hospital, there were also a number of comments where deaf people felt isolated and lonely and felt that more could be done to cater for their disability. 

Overall the feedback provided fell into:
•    Gaining trust
•    Providing person centered care
•    Improving communication
•    Treating people with dignity

One Amazing Idea

We are firmly of the opinion that everyone has good ideas that can make things better. Encouraging people to share those ideas and getting them to decision makers and people with the resources to help those ideas become reality can make things better for everyone. People were asked to share their amazing idea for improving adult social care so that they could be shared, discussed and the best ones developed and implemented. 

Several themes emerged from the various ideas that were proposed covering a wide range of potential improvements ranging from better integration between mental health and adult social care to improved promotion of services. 

The main themes that emerged are:
•    People often contact adult social care in a crisis. 

  • Improve knowledge of those services and ease of access for people in crisis who are already vulnerable.


•    Accessing client information

  • Use a PIN number (or similar) to identify individuals quickly.


•    Improve service delivery

  • Be more holistic

  • More social prescribing

  • Stop silo working

People’s Questions for decision makers

The last things that we asked our audience that day was what question would they like to ask of decision makers in adult social care in Dudley?


There were two objectives from this exercise. Firstly all of the questions asked have been shared with senior management.


Their responses and the actions that they’ve taken will be included in next year’s Local Account.


Secondly, that these questions were shared with the community reporters who used these to inform the questions they would be asking in their interviews.


Here is the full list of questions to decision makers that people thought of on day

  • What’s your greatest concern about adult social care in Dudley?

  • Why use private agencies for care who make a profit?

  • How can we break down barriers between services and the individual, making them feel more in control?

  • Why do so few people know who are making the decisions?

  • Are services the best they can be?

  • Why are service users not used as members of decision-making groups?

  • How would you involve people with language parries such as British Sign Language more effectively?

  • Adult social care focuses on older people and people with physical disabilities, but misses younger adults and people with mental health issues – Why aren’t mental health services more joined up with adult social care?

  • Where do you see adult social care in five years?

  • If you had the chance to start again from scratch, how would you redesign your dream service and what would be different?

  • How are service providers educated about the needs of the deaf community?

  • In Dudley, there is a population of socially isolated people who don’t access services and go unnoticed. They tend to be the most vulnerable.  How do you plan to identify them and ensure they get the appropriate support?

  • How do you plan to break down the stigma of social care for the elderly?

  • Things aren’t always explained properly to older people about what to expect or what’s going to happen.  How can this be improved?

  • How will you listen to what people in Dudley want and need in relation to their own care?

  • Can you give me back my independence?


If you have any ideas you’d like to propose or questions that you would like to ask our adult social care management of adult social care please click here to share your thoughts. The portal has been setup so you can ask your question anonymously. We won’t respond to you directly but you may find that your thoughts are used to improve adult social care or question included in next years Local Account. If you have a complaint that you need to raise please use the formal complaints process and email, click on this hyperlink to access the complaints webpage and fill in the appropriate form or call on either 01384 81 4724 or 01384 81 2417.


Overall the event presented the audience with a better appreciation of the breadth of work that is undertaken in adult social care and most importantly provided an opportunity to understand the concerns that adult social care services users had and ideas to improve the support they receive. 

A number of the comments that were provided will contribute to the improvement in service delivery and will play a central role in informing the priorities for adult social care in Dudley in the new financial year. 

All the videos included in the Local Account will also be signed rather than just subtitled to ensure that they are as accessible as possible to our deaf community. Wider changes in adult social care will also be stimulated by the comments that have been provided by the audience and through the discussion that followed. 

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