Norman Lamb spoke about the importance of line managers understanding mental health and supporting staff to stay in work. He also highlighted that there was work to be done to show clinicians that employment is an important outcome for patients.
Dr Justin Varney said that moving someone into work saves the NHS £1000 per year, so we need to be having the conversation about impairment and work. In addition, with an ageing population there are more people working with long-term conditions. Pat Russell from DWP said that the disability employment gap is over 33%. She said that we need to engage employers to create workplaces to support people to stay in work and improve health outcome. Charlotte Pickles from Reform championed the sector. She said we need to challenge the rhetoric that the Work Programme has failed disabled clients. She believes that personalised programmes and payment by results will drive better performance.
Future provision and programme design
Nick Butler, DWP, said they want to create a programme that’s good value for taxpayer, and that supports those who are able to get into work, to do so. They are strongly focusing on integration with other services. Government is committed to payment by results but recognises that for certain groups of people and delivery organisations, there needs to be up front investment. Cllr Sue Murphy, Manchester City Council and Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association spoke about how local government can help. She highlighted their desire to intervene earlier as many people went on to JSA for a short period, but returned frequently. The key, she said, was a specialist programme incorporating health and skills, with an assessment process developed with local partners and one key worker for each individual. Finally, Vicky McDermott from the Papworth Trust spoke, focusing on the importance of simplifying disability so that people find it easier to talk about. The biggest barrier to employment she said is fear.
The future frontline
Beth Carruthers from Remploy’s issued a challenge, to retain the talent in the sector. She said if we lose the talent we lose years of experience and expertise. She said that we need to invest in evaluation to identify what is making a difference and what isn’t. Jan Hutchinson, Centre for Mental Health, talked about the visibility of disability in our own organisations. George Selvanera from the Business Disability Forum said that the best organisations don’t take on disabled people because of employer subsidies, so these rarely cause the change needed. Need to focus on what the job is and what people are expected to do, to find the right talent for the role, rather than at what people can’t do.
A true partnership: Codesigning and integrating services with users, their carers and wider support networks
Claudia Woods from Demos spoke about personal budgets, the work around social care and health, and the use of coproduction and codesign in personalising public services. The benefits of this approach is a service user who is more likely to be invested in the service and engaged in their journey, with greater competition and transparency in the market. Demos is currently exploring how you could achieve this in Work Programme settings, with user-designed outcomes and potentially personal budgets (virtual or actual). Jayne Garner from Ingeus discussed Working Well in Manchester, which is integrating local services to provide a clear path of support for the individuals on programme.
Empowering jobseekers through strong relationships and positive assessment
Ed Hawker, DWP, highlighted that the department were aware that assessment needed to be more than just the work capability assessments. He talked about the issue of tests focusing on what people can’t do rather then what they can. Dr Paul Williams, CHDA, spoke about how they are improving the assessment process, making it high quality and quick, so that people are not waiting with their lives on hold for the outcome. Nancy Doyle, Genius Within, also spoke about the importance of assessments that highlighted what people can do, and of having an assessment process which helped people build their self-efficacy.
The jobs triangle – working with employers
Hugh Pullinger, DWP, said it is imperative to work with employers, as well as users, carers and wider support networks to tackle disability employment. The importance of having a good line of communication between DWP and the customer was highlighted. There is a need for candidates to have experience of interviews to raise their confidence, as they can be a big barrier to finding work. There was discussion around work with DWP and Disability Confident to look at barriers to getting into work and how best to support those in the ESA group, where they have very diverse needs.
From frontline to finance - Supporting jobseekers with mental health conditions
This well attended session heard about the practicalities of supporting jobseekers with mental health conditions from Stephen Smith-Trask of the Richmond Fellowship. He described the qualities and qualifications they look for in their personal advisors. He also talked about disclosure from a job seeker and employer’s perspective. Adam Swerksy of Social Finance spoke about the partnerships they have forged between health and employment providers using innovative social impact bond funding models.
A long term relationship: Delivering ongoing support to help people to stay in and progress in work
Lawrence Mahmood, DWP, led a discussion about people’s experience of Access to Work. For some it was very positive experience, however, there were concerns that the impact of Access to Work was not being properly monitored. There was a question about how we can extend Access to Work provision for those looking for work. Peter Bacon, from Kennedy Scott, then spoke about the key to supporting people in work, which he said was finding them the right job, maintaining a good relationship with the former jobseekers and acting fast if there are any problems. He said we need to shift as a sector from seeing finding a job as the end of the journey, to seeing it as the beginning.
The right toolkit: Training the frontline
Scott Parkin highlighted the importance of effective training and CPD which is offered through the IEP. Maria Cerezo from Remploy said that they are working with staff to build their skills and knowledge through training support and coaching from specialist staff. The rate of absenteeism has reduced, with higher retention, career path or progression and confidence. Kevin Moore, Future Path, outlined the complexity and range of mental health illness. With mainstream staff, he stressed the importance of understanding mental health conditions with a good knowledge of treatment programmes, medication and side effects and knowing what emergency support is available for urgent care needs. He said it was important to de-stigmatise mental health issues and to help clients with coping strategies, to help those with mental health issues into employment.