In the first in a series of articles from the Commissioners of the Levelling Up Commission, George Coxon writes on the place of social care in the levelling up agenda.
George CoxonCommissioner, the Levelling Up Commission
George Coxon is the Director and Owner of Classic Care Homes in Devon. With 13 years experience in the residential care sector before that, and 30 years in the NHS, across commissioning, policy and management, he has a breadth of experience across health and social care, with a keen interest in effective integration
Social care has, and perhaps always will, have a mixed profile – the poor relations that we invariably are to our well regarded NHS partners – and yes we are partners, not an after thought or bolt on the side element. Our profile is much misunderstood thanks, or no thanks, to the tirade of adverse media attention social care attracts. Rarely do we see or read a good news story about a care home or care at home. Sad but true.
I spent a long and arguably illustrious and successful NHS career with senior clinical, education, management, policy leading in health authorities and commissioning before migrating to social care land – buying 2 care homes and carving out a role that gets me and therefore us noticed in our work – in good ways – positive noise, sharing our treasure, reputation enhancing energising a sector with credible strong confident and proud work.
My approach centred of a series of priority themes:
- Embedding kindness and warmth in what we do
- Seeking and finding inspiration – you cant inspire others unless someone is inspiring you is a fundamental truism driving my ethos.
- Reassuring people that need social care that there is progressive, dynamic, fun focus life for those needing care – living well in a relationship focused way – with people that love their work and share lives that matter.
- Language and leadership are at the heart of great social care – talking the talk is easy walking the walk harder and massively more important.
- Planting seed and building bridges is how I describe my social care advocating role – demystifying our work making likeminded links with others and being part of value adding collaborations at multiple levels. The winning over the sceptics, even the cynics about social care is vital with a model of work that excites and ignites people on a feeling level.
- The work we do has key themes that include curiosity, imagination and creative ways to provide atmosphere in our care homes that combines relaxation, vibrancy, lively hilarious moments and subscribes to our happiness mantra.
There is much to be frustrated about in our system from workforce difficulties to the critical issue that motivates us all – keeping and getting people out of hospital – particularly older and vulnerable people living with dementia and frailty as well as many other common long term conditions that affect for many.
Social care is about life, its about timely help for those in need, its about working well together and it’s about engagement.
I talk a lot about reaching the hard to reach – whether that be a person living with advanced dementia or a high office senior politician each struggling the pressure and challenges of daily living.
What excites me about the Levelling Up Commission with Curia and Q5 is the potential to do more of the things I’ve mentioned here – inspiration, energy, engagement, likeminded alliances and making an impact on the frontline connection policy and practice, enabling independence even in 24/7 care – people exercising choice and laughing and smiling about the stimulation, participation, occupation and interactions they can have.
We are on a journey and in truth there is no arrival – ‘the work of a garden is never finished’ but we will not waste time in the pursuit of irresistible balanced life led by social care activism.
The Levelling up work must give material for changing not just the narrative but the values of those who talk about it, plan it, preside over it and above all those that need it.