2.6 Real wealth
You will remember that personalisation involves citizens being actively involved in selecting and shaping the services they receive. Rather than viewing individuals as passive recipients of services, the emphasis is on empowering people to control their futures. The starting point for personalisation is what people bring to their relationships, families and communities: their strengths (or assets). Asset- or strengths-based approaches recognise that individuals and communities are important parts of the solution.
Assets of course, importantly, can take the form of financial assets, including individual budgets through self-directed support. However, money isn’t everything: people have other, less tangible, resources to draw on, including their skills, knowledge, values, motivation, energy and enthusiasm. They also bring their connections and networks: their social capital. ' In Control ' describes the combination of money and these other resources as ' real wealth '.
By treating service users and their families as people with real wealth , the state is, In Control suggests, investing in the future real wealth of the nation (Crosby, 2010).
Activity 2.5: Sara and her family: their real wealth
You met Sara and her family in the introduction to this course, and in Section 1 in your learning log .
Using this information, note down what you think may be the 'real wealth' of each member of this family in your learning log .
You only have a quick pen picture of each family member, but it should have been possible for you to identify several examples of real wealth. Sara, for example, brings her relationships with family members, friends and as well as perhaps her teachers, her support assistant or classroom assistants. These networks make up part of her social capital, as may others , for example, with the staff at the swimming pool. She also brings personal qualities such as determination, and her enjoyment of, and developing abilities as, a swimmer, a dancer and a school pupil.
You may have noticed how each individual contributes to increasing the real wealth of other family members, so adding to social capital of the whole family, as well as their wider community.
Identifying assets can be a powerful tool for enabling individuals, families and communities to 'map' and recognise their strengths, increasing connectedness and confidence, and bringing about positive change. Recognising and drawing on people's real wealth is integral to co-production. We know that this approach to making personalisation happen (through, in Sara's case services provided by, e.g. health, social work and education) has important benefits. For example, research with practitioners working with children and young people in England using a co-productive approach in practice found a range of positive impacts for service providers as well as service users:
- Improved well-being for children, e.g. higher self-esteem, stronger social skills
- Increased well-being of staff e.g. motivation, inspiration, reward
- A better service
- Improved community relations.
(NEF/Action for Children, 2009)