Putting people at the centre of their care

New guidance from NICE, developed with the help of Healthwatch Surrey, highlights how you should be an equal partner in your care. Alice Maynard, Chair of the Guideline Committee explains more.
Transgender woman looking at the camera.

Social care is very personal. People have their own care needs, which we must understand to ensure they receive the best possible care, delivered how and when they need it.

To give everyone a positive experience, care must be personalised to the people accessing it. This is why, as a part of my role at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), we’ve developed a new piece of guidance which looks at people’s experiences of social care. We recommend that adults who need social care should be able to shape the care they receive so it fits around them and enables them to be the person they want to be.

It’s vital that people have a say in their own care. Everyone is unique, we all have things we like or dislike and having our preferences respected, understood and met is what truly makes the difference when we receive care.

This is a key element of the guidance. It recommends that people accessing social care services are treated with dignity, as human beings who have their own history and experiences that shape who they are. Professionals assessing people’s needs must recognise their preferences and really understand how these can be factored in to the care they receive.

Making decisions together

The guidance aims to highlight what you should expect from social care, and how you can get involved to make decisions together with professionals. Health and social care professionals should give you clear information, talk with you about your options and listen carefully to your views and concerns. They should also:

  • Find out what matters to you and what support you need to live the life you choose

  • Give you information to make your own decisions, never assuming that you cannot decide for yourself

  • Involve your family and carers too, if you are happy with this

  • Help you get your views across, for example using communication aids or by providing an advocate.

When we developed this guidance we had a clear aim – to help improve people’s experiences of social care. As a person who uses social care myself, I know how it feels to be on the receiving end. It’s often people who don’t receive care who make decisions, yet they may not understand the impact these decisions can have on people’s lives.

It can be very challenging for people using social care to know what standard of care they should expect. Should you let someone treat you in a way you might not think is right? Or can you have a say and ask for things to be different?

To make sure people are cared for properly, health and social care must work effectively together. But there are so many challenges the system is facing. Between 2010-2013 we saw Local Authorities’ total spending fall by 8% and this is projected to continue falling. Just last year, The Health Foundation found that by 2030-2031 there will be a funding gap of £9.2bn for adult social care, a total of 40% of the projected budget.

With this in mind, bringing the NHS and social care together is now more important than ever before. Working together will mean those people accessing services receive the best quality care regardless of where that care comes from. The guidance encourages social care practitioners to consider how they  assess people’s needs, so that care can be tailored to individuals.

It’s really important that those involved in social care services listen to people’s views. I’m just hopeful that, by using our guidance those providing social care services will be able to make a real difference to people and ensure their experience of receiving care is a positive one.

Find out more about NICE's guidance