Solace Blog

As well as those used in the weekly Solace News email for members, articles and blogs written or contributed to by Solace staff and Board members for external publications including the Guardian, Local Government Chronicle and Municipal Journal are republished for browsing on this page. 

A number of these can be accessed through the Solace Guardian Public Leaders Network Partner Zone.

Improving prevention outcomes through a place-based approach – 0

Professor Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse, Director Maternity and Early Years at Public Health England

We are living longer but for some people these extra years are lived in poor health. As we get older, our risk of lifestyle-related long-term conditions increases. Our risk of ill-health is related to a wide range of broader social factors and is also influenced by our own behaviours. Prevention of avoidable illness and promotion of wellbeing and resilience is a major systems-wide priority in which leadership from local government plays a vital role.

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Collaboration in a Smaller, Bigger, Different World – 0

Over the last eight years, I’ve been leading Sutton Council as we become a smaller, bigger and different organisation. We’re definitely smaller. Our direct workforce at the time of writing is 1001 employees (down from 2600 (exc. Schools) in 2011). We’re certainly bigger as we extend our work with communities and partners locally, sub-regionally and nationally; and we’re very different, having adopted a commissioning approach to deliver our outcomes.

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Commercialisation - Headlines and Commitments – 0

By Alix Bedford, Public Services Segment Manager, Zurich Municipal

‘Commercialisation’ can mean many different things to many different people, but a local authority chief executive once described it to me in pretty straightforward terms – “it’s about getting the most out of every pound”.

There’s nothing new in that, of course. Local authorities have always tried to make their money work harder, long before the current era of austerity. What has changed in recent years is the willingness of councils to explore commercial opportunities in order to achieve this objective.

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Shared Ambitions Lead to Shared Success in Digital – 0

By Paul Bradbury, Group Business Development Director, Civica

The challenges faced by the public sector have intensified over the last few years. The demands on public services are evolving rapidly as the way people interact with the public sector changes together with their expectations. And continuously shrinking budgets continue to cause strain, which means “working smarter” and transforming the way services are delivered is crucial to success in this unstable environment.

As part of this ambition to work smarter, a number of local government organisations have come together to create The Local Digital Declaration. This declaration is a commitment to developing common standards for the common elements of local services; working together to share knowledge, and ultimately to pave the way for the next era in public service delivery through building services more quickly, flexibly and effectively, together. But crucially, The Local Digital Declaration is aiming to put technology at the forefront of re-shaping public service delivery. And this is vital as people want the same level of instant service from the public sector as they do their bank, favourite retailer or travel company.


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The role of the IMCA and the Local Authority - what do you need to know? – 0

An 'IMCA' is an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate and is a role that was created by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 ("MCA"). The role of the IMCA is to support people aged 16 or over who lack capacity where there are decisions to be made about their care and treatment and there is no family or suitable person other than professionals that can be involved in those decisions.

The starting point is therefore to ensure that there is an assessment of the individual's capacity for the particular decision that is to be taken. A person is assessed as lacking the ability to make a decision if they cannot do one or more of the following:

- understand information given to them about the decision

- retain the information for long enough to make the decision

- use or weigh up the information as part of the decision making process, and

- communicate their decision (this can be my any means possible).


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Without local government, the NHS will never understand its true value – 0

by Michael Wood, Local Growth Advisor at the NHS Confederation

One of the great ironies of the ‘place’ agenda is that while we may be heading towards the same point we are taking very different routes and for very different reasons. Perhaps this doesn’t matter, but it helps to understand our respective Satnav’s intentions.

Let’s start with the very concept of place. For many councils the ability to determine which, if any, combined authority they feel an identity with is critical – so much so that it could make or break well established local partnerships. With Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) on the other hand, it sometimes appears England has been crudely divvied up from a darkened room in London, with places all told to get on with working together whether they feel a local connection or not.

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Transforming Services- A Commissioning Mindset – 0

By Abby Thomas, Head of Transformation and Engagement, Bracknell Forest Council

Bracknell Forest Council, as most other Councils, has been on a transformation journey over the past 3 years and as we have certainly learnt a lot along the way! 

When designing the transformation programme in the autumn of 2015 we questioned how we could ensure that our approach would fundamentally review our services particularly given the interconnected nature of the programme.  We knew there was a need for a core, standardised approach to be taken to the design and delivery of the individual programmes and projects so that their delivery was challenging and could generate the level of innovation needed to meet the objectives of the transformation programme.  As well as this we wanted to ensure that the programme was a collective endeavour and that services would work together across organisational boundaries underpinned by the core methodology. 

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Why we must support vulnerable older people to maintain good oral health – 0

By Dr Sandra White, National lead for Dental Public Health, at Public Health England.

Poor oral health can impact on vulnerable older people in a number of ways. Painful teeth, missing teeth, sore gums or an inability to wear dentures can comprimise eating, sleeping and socialising. Commissioners, service providers and care givers can play an important role in helping the most vulnerable older people lead healthier and more satisfactory lives. This may involve something as simple as integrating mouth care and oral health improvement into existing commissioned services.

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Maintaining Momentum in Skills Devolution – 0

By Andy Norman, Research Analyst, Centre for Progressive Policy

Towards the end of last year, England’s seven regional mayors came together to call for further devolution to their city regions. The intervention signalled their concern that devolution may have slipped down the political agenda, with key proponents such as George Osborne and Nick Timothy now out of the picture.

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Your full fibre future. Now that’s worth talking about! – 0

By Martin Kemp, CityFibre

First-class digital infrastructure is now widely recognised as the backbone of a modern, thriving, service-based economy. But what does it take to secure it for your region? What are the challenges? How can you navigate them most-efficiently? And, once you’ve secured that infrastructure, what’s next?

These are all questions up for discussion in a session I’ll be facilitating at this year’s Solace Summit in Brighton on 17-19 October.

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