Promoting personalised services in Somerset

Virginia McCririckVirginia McCririck, Strategic Commissioning Manager at Somerset County Council, is leading a push to promote personalised services in Somerset through the uptake of personal budgets.

Essentially all staff involved in the delivery of adult social care are required to ensure that service users have choice and control, but it was felt that the Council needed to achieve a faster momentum of change towards achieving the Government targets for personalised services.

Her portfolio of work comprises:

  • Support increase uptake of Direct Payments through ensuring that sufficient support organisations are in place to help people with their choice, and improving the quality of information to help people choose.
  • Ensure providers are aware of the Council’s future commissioning intentions, through the regular publication of a Market Position Statement. A key aim is to ensure that providers become more aware of the services that people would like to choose.
  • Commission home care services, with the aim of increasing the diversity of provision to offer more choice to people. Grow the number of very small providers in the County to respond to what people are saying they would like to purchase, if it was available.
  • Increase the opportunities for service users to influence the Council’s adult social care policies and approaches, in particular by developing User Led Organisations.  Compass have a key role to play here in acting as a network of networks to pull in service user voices, as do Healthwatch.
  • Ensure the workforce in the provider market is able to deliver personalised and quality services, and is sufficient to meet future demand.

Virginia transferred into this post from a senior role in human resource management, a profession in which she has over 25 years experience, 10 of which were focussed within adult social care, as well as the NHS, housing and private industry.  She has recent experience working in the Department of Health for 2 years on secondment as the Personalisation Lead for the South West. In this role she focussed on workforce transformation in the context of developing a more diverse market offer to increase choice and control, and developed the capacity of user led organisations across the South West. The approach developed in this region was seen a national exemplar of practice by investing directly in grass roots capacity building.

Prior to commencing her current role, Virginia had a dual occupation in also providing consultancy support to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in the South West to support the strategic development of the workforce, including within the voluntary and community sector. She worked closely with Skills for Care and the National Centre for Workforce Intelligence. As a consequence of this work, she has had a number of articles published in academic journals in partnership with Prof Rhidian Hughes. She continues to be an Associate of the National Development Team for Inclusion for occasional freelance work related to her expertise in workforce planning and leadership development.