6.1 Your experience of services working together
Activity 6.1 Experiences of services working together
Draw on your experience of health, social care, education or other services you are familiar with as a service user, carer, parent, practitioner and/or manager (you may have experience of more than one of these roles) to reflect on the following:
- experiences you have had of services working well together
- experiences you have had of services not working well together
- what you think might improve the way services work together.
Use your learning log to note down your ideas. You may want to add other thoughts that you have about your experiences, or those of others, as you work through Section 6.
One learner reported her experiences in this way:
I had a good experience of services working well together when I was feeling very low. I talked things over with my GP, and agreed that she could contact a local support organisation for carers experiencing depression. They contacted me almost straight away and arranged to visit me to tell me more about how they could help me. This made an enormous difference, providing me with much needed support at a time when I really needed it.
On the negative side, as a carer to my mother, who has Alzheimer's, I got very frustrated because her GP and the social services just didn't seem to talk to each other: I ended up feeling like it was my job to be the go-between and that caused me a lot of stress. I also kept repeating the same information over and over again.
In my experience some things that would help are: professionals listening to what I need; professionals checking out with me what they can share with other professionals; knowing that if a GP says they are going to contact a social worker or other professional they will do it, and let me know what the outcome is; just being assessed once and not having to give the same information out to different people.
Your answers to these questions will be individual to you, but you will probably have been able to identify positive as well as negative experiences of services working together: when the service you received was 'seamless' and the outcomes for you and/or a family member were positive.
We may not always be aware of the times when, say, schools and social work services, or the NHS and home care services work well together because when this happens we can't 'see the joins'. But when services do not communicate well or pull in different directions, this can at the very least be frustrating and time consuming for individuals and families, and at worst, contribute to tragedy. The findings of an investigation (Mental Welfare Commission/Social Work Services Inspectorate, 2004) into the abuse of a woman with learning disabilities in the Scottish Borders found many failures in joint working , including lack of information-sharing, poor coordination between key agencies and disagreements between agencies at front line and middle management levels.
You may have had many different ideas about what might help services work together. These might include better communication systems, common aims and values, staff training and shared budgets. You may well have come up with other ideas – and perhaps seen some of these working in action. You might want to come back to this exercise at the end of this section and add to your list.
Do adult and children's service work together in the same way?
Although there are many similarities between what helps – and hinders – services from working together in relation to children and adults, there are also some important differences. For example, services for children and families in Scotland work to a common framework called ' Getting it right for every child ' which does not apply to adults. The service partners may also be different for children and adults; for example, education is clearly a significant service for children, but not for all adults. Therefore we now offer you a choice of routes:
You can choose one of these routes or explore working together in relation to both children and adults. Remembering that children don't just suddenly turn into adults overnight, we will also explore how services can work together to facilitate the transition between childhood and adulthood later on in this section.