Guest Post from Local Integration Leads, Anne Austin & Susan Spicer


We thought this month we would do a joint Blog about our job-share post in Argyll and Bute.  We are Susan Spicer and Anne Austin and we work 3 days a week each as Local Integration Leads, Independent Sector (LILIS).  We are funded from The Integrated Care Fund by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership.

Description of the Patch:  Argyll and Bute, on the west coast, is one of the largest, most diverse and most sparsely populated local authority areas in Scotland.  The population is 87,130 (NRS 2016). 45% of Argyll and Bute’s population live in areas classified as ‘remote rural’; 7% live in areas classified as ‘accessible rural’ (Argyll and Bute Council website). Argyll and Bute also has 23 inhabited islands (Census 2011).

Provision of Care Services:  The majority of care services are provided by the independent sector.  Currently there are 14 care homes run by the independent sector – the Local Authority run 6 care homes.

The Local Authority are the sole provider of care at home services on Mull, Islay and Tiree and the major provider for Lochgilphead and Ardrishaig area.

Otherwise care at home services are operated by 20 independent care at home providers with nearly 20,000 visits per week across the Argyll and Bute area.

What we do:  We spend most of our time either meeting with providers or representing the sector at locality and strategic meetings.  Due to the complex geography and the number of meetings we have split the patch with Susan covering Mid-Argyll, Kintyre and Islay (MAKI), and Oban, Lorne and the Isles (OLI). Anne covers Cowal and Bute and Helensburgh and Lomond. We divide the attendance at strategic meetings between us and we are involved in all relevant developments undertaken by the HSCP.  Our focus is on bringing the national picture to local developments and supporting providers to influence change and improve the profile of Argyll and Bute’s independent sector.  Together with the HSCP we run regular development days for providers on current topics.

Partnership working:  We work effectively with a range of partners including HSCP colleagues, Scottish Care, the Care Inspectorate, Alzheimer Scotland, Scottish Patient Safety Programme, Technology Enabled Care services, Scottish Social Services Council.

Through this partnership approach we have improved awareness and the positive profile of the independent providers.

Benefits of job-share post:  We each bring specific skills and knowledge to the post. Susan worked primarily in the NHS and Anne, primarily in social care.  We both have extensive management experience and wide knowledge and experience of independent providers and their services.  One of the main benefits is having someone to reflect with and decide on the best approach when challenges arise.  Two heads are often better than one for getting things in perspective and it is great to have someone to celebrate success with.

Challenges:  As with any job we experience a few challenges.  Even with working 3 days a week each it is hard to keep up with the level of demand some days.  There is a perception that if there are two of us then one of us should always be available when required.  We have to choose our priorities wisely and explain our choices diplomatically.  Despite our best efforts there is still a small but significant amount of lip service paid to including independent providers in planning and decision making about services.

Conclusion:  We both love our job.  We are indeed fortunate to work with a range of forward thinking and positive providers and partners.  While there are challenges in travelling long distances to cover meetings there are so many compensations in the ever changing landscapes, weather and the diversity of culture.  There is something new every day and every day is worthwhile.

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