Ralph is director of the recently formed Inclusive Neighbourhoods and currently leading on the development of Local Area Coordination (LAC) in England, including the development of the Local Area Coordination Network. He is working in partnership with a number of local authority areas and community partners in the development of LAC, building stronger communities and associated opportunities for reform of the social care system.This is underpinned by the belief that every person has the right to pursue their vision for a good life and that communities are stronger, more welcoming and more self-sufficient where all people have the opportunity to share strengths and expertise and contribute to local community life.
Local Area Co-ordination (LAC) was originally developed in Western Australia in 1988 to “build individual, family and community self-sufficiency so that individuals with intellectual disability can choose to live with their families, or in their local community without compromising their quality of life”. It has a strong person-centred value base, a focus on individual, family and community strengths, supporting people to pursue their vision for good life and building valued reciprocal partnerships with and between individuals, families, communities and services.
LAC has subsequently developed across Australia and other countries (including Scotland as a key recommendation of “The Same as You?”, Scottish Executive 2000) and is now starting in an increasing number of areas in England supporting people of all ages vulnerable or at risk of exclusion due to age, disability or mental health needs.
LAC is an innovative approach to supporting people who are vulnerable through age, frailty, disability or mental health issues achieve their vision for a good life, to support people to contribute to their communities and to strengthen the capacity of communities to welcome and include people. Additionally, it drives reform in the services system shifting the "front end" of the service system from "assessment, funding and services" to "prevention, capacity building and practical local solutions".
Rather than asking "what service or money do you need? it asks "what is your vision for a good life and what are the range of ways you can pursue and achieve this?"
LAC is built on the assumption that people who may be vulnerable due to age, disability or mental health needs are not just “passive recipients” of social and health care, but have expertise, gifts, strengths that can help them achieve their vision for a good life, choose and control how to get there, contribute to their local communities and “maximise the impact of resources” (Bartnik, 2008).
It is also built on the principle that the purpose of social care reform is to strengthen informal supports and community self sufficiency and to make services more personal, flexible and accountable.
Ralph has also worked in partnership with local authorities and provider organisations to support people to move from NHS services to their own homes in their local community and to pursue their vision for a good life. This also involved working with providers and staff to think about how to provide the type and levels of support that reflects the strengths and aspirations of people they support.
Prior to this, Ralph has worked in provider organisations in England, Scotland and Australia from Director to support worker levels (and everything in between!) and is passionate about the role of services being "about more than money".
Ralph is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and a Trustee at Edward Lloyd Trust. His other main passion is walking the Lakeland and Scottish mountains with his dog "Millie"!