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Published on May 25, 2018

Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care – How it worked

Citizens' Assembly on Social Care

By Tim Hughes

Tim is director of Involve. He took over leadership of the organisation in January 2017, having previously led Involve’s open government programme and the UK Open Government Network (OGN).

The second and final weekend of the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care took place last weekend. Since then we have rolled together all our flipcharts, retrieved our sharpies, piled up all the post-its, and begun the process of typing up the results. These will be given to the Health and Social Care Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee to inform their joint inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care in England.

So, whilst we work on the write up, now seems a good time to share a few thoughts on the whole process and what comes next…

What happened?

The first weekend set the stage with Assembly Members learning from a range of experts on private and public models of funding adult social care. The second weekend then consolidated this learning, before moving onto the Assembly Members discussing and deciding on a set of recommendations on how adult social care should be funded in England.

The second weekend opened with a panel offering the perspective of those who use social care. Assembly Members heard from Tracey Lazard from Inclusion London, as well as Elaine and Ildi on their experiences of the adult social care system. Assembly Members commented on the importance of hearing lived experience and the context it provided before moving onto further discussions.

We then asked our 47 Assembly Members to pull together all they have learned from the expert speakers and make their recommendations on how to tackle the issue of how to fund adult social care.

On Saturday, the Assembly Members discussed in small groups what values and principles they thought should underpin how decisions about social care funding should be made. This saw them bring together the expert insight they had previously heard and their own ideas on what a fair system looks like. Of course, there were a number of different values which were considered important and so the Assembly Members discussed these and then voted on which values they felt were most important. Reaching this consensus on what social care provisions should achieve laid the groundwork for then discussing how this could be achieved.

To decide how adult social care should be funded, the Assembly Members explored a few key provocative questions which were asked by our expert leads, Professor Martin Knapp and Professor Gerald Wistow. This then moved onto exploring preferences for public funding, private funding and the balance between the two.

Throughout the weekend the Assembly Members expressed their views not just through discussions on their tables but also by voting to indicate their priorities and their final recommendations for how adult social care should be funded. Over the two weekends, Assembly Members took part in 28 hours of deliberation each, which equates to an impressive total of 1,316 hours between them. Unfortunately, we can’t share the results with you just yet as there’s a few more crucial steps to come…

What happens next?

As we heard from the two Committee Chairs, Sarah Wollaston MP and Clive Betts MP, on Saturday night, their committees have been taking evidence to inform their inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care. This intended to influence the Government’s own plans, which are due to be announced in a Green Paper this summer.

The weekend was a huge success with a brilliantly engaged public who put a huge amount into the process and got a lot out of it too. Across the two weekends, Members rated their experience of the Assembly 9.5 out of 10. As one Assembly Member said, “Citizens’ Assemblies are a great way to collectively discover the opinions of many people, which can then be discussed, digested and, ultimately acted upon.”

Now I’m sure you’re all keen to find out what the Assembly Members decided was the best solution, but I’m afraid you will have to wait just a little bit longer to see. They’ll be worth the wait though! Although the weekends’ deliberation is now over, you certainly haven’t heard the last of the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care.

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