Wednesday, 13 September 2006
People - the rarest resource
We welcome the rolling away of the stone from the PPI cave and anticipate resurrection. You can read our full response to the DoH consultation on our main site. We have highlighted here what we think is the principal issue for us and it is to do with the people who volunteer and come forward to be the voice of the patient and public.
We feel there is an opportunity for a radical new approach in this contractual area that starts not with the definition of the appropriate institutional relationships but with creating the space and the environment that will nurture and sustain the individual relationships. We can all invent institutions and jobs for ourselves and indeed others but volunteers are like clean safe drinking water - they cannot be manufactured to order.
The people that suffered from the uncertainties and failures of the past were principally the volunteers, those members of the public, patients and carers who took part and responded to invitations to join in. (This is not to ignore the untimely job losses of CHC staff but their status as employed people ensured that they were not left wholly stranded.)
A Person-Centred Contract
We therefore see the first priority to create the right conditions or contract to re-inspire, attract and retain the new corps of patient and public participants- to resuscitate that goodwill and develop those new relationships.
This person-centred contract would address the following issues:
- A right of audience and to be heard and involved
- Financial and other barriers to involvement
- The availability of incentives including payment
- The amount of training to be given to fulfil the role and to use all modern means of communication and association to do so
- Full technical support in modern communication channels especially low cost communications
- The availability of professional support at the times it is needed - e.g. weekend and evenings as well as daytime - a 0900 to 2100h day
- Support to include access to research studies and the funds and training to commission their own work
- The ethical and moral basis for the work and a code of expected conduct to be observed by all parties to the contract
- The basis for appraisal - how often and by whom and to what end?
- The degree of protection from legal action eg libel, negligent advice, etc.
- Accurate statement of the minimum/maximum time to be devoted to this work and the length of any engagement
- A means whereby volunteers can negotiate different terms of engagement and of reference to suit their individual circumstances.
- To have the power either to dismiss other contractors and service providers or vary their contracts if they not delivering the service demanded
- The power to move the closure of the LINks if they are not performing and to allow others to bring such a motion so a fresh start can be made. We are not creating institutions that will last for ever - we are creating means to ends which if they do not deliver, we can try something else.
If a tendering organisation can show that it can devise a contract along these lines that can be incorporated into the 'main' host organisation contract and budget, then it is a serious contender to run a LINk regardless of whether it is a for-profit or not-for-profit organisation.
What do you think? If there is anything here that you would want us to explain or discuss with you, please contact us.
M-A-C's Response to the Dept of Health Stronger Local Voice Consultative Document (Adobe PDF)