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Maximising Independence Update Winter 2022


It’s good to talk, but sometimes it’s even better to listen.

Over the next few months, we’ll be listening to people across the city to hear their views on how we can best communicate with them about Maximising Independence (MI).

Maximising Independence will change the way we all work within health and social care to support people, who can and want to, remain living at home safely for as long as possible with the right support in place for them, and for their carers if they have them. It’s one of the most far-reaching changes we’ll make in a generation.

To make that change happen, we need to know how to communicate effectively, so that people get to know about and understand why MI matters, why it’s relevant to them in their day to day lives, and ultimately so that they get the benefits of the MI approach.

We want to remove barriers to communication ensuring people can make the most of health and social care in its widest sense – building on their own strengths and resources at home and in the community, as well as what’s available in the statutory services. The newly launched Health and Social Care Connect will help our workforce and the people we support people to do this. 

You might remember that we carried out initial research which flagged up some issues around language, because it was a barrier to understanding and engagement.  We are now following up and digging a bit deeper to see how the language we use can help us reach as many people as possible, especially those who can often feel excluded. We also want to hear about how the language we use can be a barrier to change, maybe because it’s jargon or shorthand that only a small group of people use, or because it carries a tone or a meaning that can be misunderstood or can unintentionally make people feel a certain way.

There are so many pressures in our day to day lives at the moment, that thinking about language can seem like it’s not a priority, but we’ve heard loud and clear from the people we support, our workforce and our partners that language matters. Research in other fields such as changing the way we talk about young people in care called 'Language that cares' has also shown how language can impact on people, affecting how they feel about themselves and how they interact with the health and social care system.

We already know from our initial research that some words and phrases we sometimes use routinely can be problematic. For example, the term ‘assessment’ can feel negative and worrying even though that’s not the intention, and we heard that people we say are ‘hard to reach’ feel that a better description is ‘easy to ignore’. Even the title of ‘Maximising Independence’ is up for change. If it’s a barrier to understanding and engagement, we need to consider changing it to something more meaningful.

In early 2023, we’ll be hosting a People’s Panel to hear from people who use services as well as our workforce and partners, and we’re particularly keen to hear from people we don’t always manage to reach. We’ll use what we hear to help shape and design the way we communicate about Maximising Independence in future.

The format will be a mix of face to face and online discussions and surveys, and we want to hear from you if you’re interested in taking part, or if you think the people you work with and/or support would be interested. (contact
Travel and accessibility needs will be looked after wherever needed.

We’ll also use our learning from this first People’s Panel to shape future panels on a whole range of other topics that matter to people.   

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Assistant Chief Officer (Older People's Services and South Locality Operations) said: “When we began to develop our MI approach, it was before the twin traumatic events of the pandemic and cost of living crisis emerged. These have challenged us all and shown that it’s even more important than ever that we adapt and communicate effectively and in a joined-up way no matter where in the system we are, to reach the people who need our support most.”

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