8. Development of Information
This short chapter looks at the range of information resources developed by the SIRD projects.
Based on reviewing available information, a number of projects produced a range of materials informing people about self-directed support. For some this work has been the main, or a significant, focus of their work.
Information has been produced in a range of formats. Much use has been made of case studies, including in video format. There has also been innovative work developing games and e-learning packages as tools for understanding and supporting client progression through the social care process.
A number of the projects have been developing information, materials and tools relating to social care and choice and control. For a small number this has been the primary focus of their work. Others have been doing this alongside the delivery of direct support.
Before moving forward, projects usually reviewed the information already available and generally saw the potential for significant improvement, including around content and presentation. This work was not confined to projects working in one local authority but was undertaken by some regional or national projects who identified shortcomings in some of the information provided by local authorities and others targeted at specific groups of people.
The focus of such work has been on providing information that is easily accessible both in its content and its format. This latter requirement has meant that materials have been produced in a range of media and formats including:
- Leaflet or booklets made available to pick up at a range of locations, giving a brief overview of how choice and control of social care budgets works and the next steps someone should take if thinking about their options. These are likely to include contact details for projects, including SIRD projects, which can offer independent information and support.
- Longer and more detailed, but still accessible, materials, in a range of formats including hard copy and web-based information, often including video and audio materials. This has included case study videos of people telling others about their experiences, including the process they had been through and the benefits they are now seeing. One project had developed web-based materials designed for people with literacy problems based around picture stories with text and sound add-ons.
- A game aimed at young people as part of which they can produce a scrapbook which they can use to support their engagement with social workers.
Projects have often worked with a range of partners when developing these materials, including other third sector organisations and design companies. As would be expected, people with lived experience, including SIRD clients, have often played a key role in developing and testing these products.
In addition to these more widely available resources, some projects had also put together information packs or resources to support their training and personal development work. In one case this was in the form of an e-learning package.
In terms of both these and other materials, projects were clear that the information they produced was not only for use by members of the public but could also be of value to professionals, including to social workers. In particular, projects suggested they could be of use to social workers when having first conversations with a client about the principles underpinning self-directed support and the choices available.
Although the focus of much of the work has been on providing information for people who might be about to embark on their own social care journey, there has also been work to produce awareness-raising information for other groups. For example, one project produced campaign-style materials aimed at encouraging people to consider becoming a PA, highlighting the value of the work, the support the organisation could give and how working as a PA could be part of a career development plan.
Projects have come up against some challenges when developing information materials. For regional or national projects, it has sometimes proved difficult to produce materials which work across more than one local authority area. Nevertheless, the investment of time and resources was generally considered worthwhile. For these and other projects, the information materials they have developed are a very tangible product of their SIRD funding and one which will continue to offer a legacy of real value into the future.