Liz Kendall Roundtable

Personalising public services

Academics met with Liz Kendall MP this week to discuss how personalisation might improve public services.

The round-table event, led by Metropolis, Manchester Met’s thinktank, offered a chance for academics to engage directly with a leading policy maker.

The event centred around personalisation – how can we tailor more services to the individual, so that they get the services that they specifically need? While personalisation is established in social care, it has not been fully explored in other sectors such as the criminal justice system.

Researchers from Manchester Met offered their thoughts on the issue. Prof Sarah Galvani spoke about her experience of seeing end of life care for people with substance problems. Through her research, she found that many were poorly served, partly through the stigma associated with substance abuse. She added that there is limited joint working in a system with fragmented services.

Prof Rachel Holmes spoke about her new research project on feeling different in the world of education. She urged a step away from conventional educational thinking about difference and conformity.

Liz Kendall MP spoke of her own interest in personalisation, and her desire to bridge the gap between academia and policy.

She mentioned the issue of the nation’s ageing population, which together with rise of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, has meant that the needs of patients and service users have changed.

She added that personalisation “does not feel like a big idea” but that it needs to overcome political barriers in order to be accepted. Furthermore, professionals should feel they have the space and time to address such issues, and not feel ill-equipped or constrained by their jobs to tackle them.

Prof Christopher Fox, Professor of Evaluation who leads Metropolis and chaired the event, said: “We thank Liz for taking the time out to visit us. We got to hear the issues that policy-makers face, and she had the opportunity to hear first-hand evidence from our researchers on the issues surrounding personalisation.

“While there appears to be an appetite for personalising services, a recurring theme is the lack of robust evidence about their impact. Moving forward, I hope that the government will continue to invest in novel and different models of commissioning services.”

The next Metropolis event will be an inaugural lecture from Professor Hannah Smithson on 25 April 2018.

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