I visited fourteen services this week, mainly in the Brighton and Hove area. I took the opportunity to talk to a number of staff about my theme of the week, which is, ‘attention to detail’. I explained that this is about being thorough, careful and getting the little, but important, things right in the lives of the people we support. I gave the example of a young man we support who went home wearing the shirt of another person he shares his home with, to make it real to people the kind of thing I was talking about. I was also in a service where the pictorial rota was out of date and I pointed out the fact that having the photos of the wrong staff members on duty that day was a very clear example of lack of attention to detail.
When we carried out our Driving Up Quality self assessment day last year, one of the areas for improvement identified was promoting social inclusion, which is a challenge that many provider organisations face. We do it well in some parts of CMG but not consistently. I had a meeting last week with a number of our Social Inclusion Co-ordinators whose role in services is to seek out opportunities for individuals to participate meaningfully in the community and to encourage them within the staff team. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and creativity of the Social Inclusion Co-ordinators who I met. They gave me a long list of really good ideas which I am going to cascade across the organisation through our Regional Director team. Please let me know if you would like a copy of their list of ideas. One of the things that we agreed is that, when I visit services, I will make a point of noting any good ideas of social inclusion and will then send out a weekly email across CMG highlighting those and encouraging those to follow that example. I will also include those in my weekly blog. I was particularly impressed by two services in the Brighton and Hove area;
- At 53 Rutland Gardens, we support a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome. He has been supported to join a group for people with Aspergers and as a result has made several new friends. He also has a voluntary job at the Salvation Army centre and has got to meet people there. He is arranging to invite some people from the Salvation Army to come to his home and visit him.
- At 283 Dyke Road, they support people to participate in a range of activities in the community. One person they support works at a local allotment, another person does voluntary work at a local radio station and two other people are in a rock band.
We heard this week that we were successful in winning a tender which is great news. I can’t tell you where yet, because we are in the ‘standstill’ period. For two weeks after a tender is awarded, other providers have an opportunity to challenge the decision and it can’t be announced until after then. We also encountered a challenge with another tender we won recently because when the tender documents were issued, it made clear that the staff who would transfer to us had opted out of a pension scheme. It has now become clear that the information we received was inaccurate and a number of people are in a pension scheme. Pension schemes can be extremely complicated and I won’t try and explain all the issues here. However the important point, is that, when people are in final salary pensions, typically the Local Government and NHS ones, there can be both extra cost and significant financial liabilities on providers. Providers have been known to be bankrupt by not managing pension liabilities properly. We are trying to find a resolution to this with the Local Authority concerned. We are also finalising our submission for the Cardiff tender was submitted on Monday. Tendering takes up quite a lot of our time and if I’m honest, is not the most exciting thing that we do in CMG. I met Michelle Murray who is leading on the procurement strategy for Adult Social Care and is part of the Winterbourne View joint improvement programme. She told me about plans which are being developed to make tenders shorter and more person centred. That will be a very welcome development, because to be honest, they are more of a test of your essay writing skills that your ability to actually run services. They can also be extremely long and time consuming to complete.