Perseverance and creativity brings benefits to diabetes outcome

15th December 2016  Add comments

I’ve just returned from two weeks annual leave and was really impressed today to see a presentation from Kellie Barker, Lead Support worker at Kings Road in Hampshire (and keyworker to ‘C’). The presentation demonstrated the fantastic efforts the staff team at Kings Road have made in managing C’s complex diabetes type1.

Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly.  Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune condition where the body attacks and destroys insulin producing cells, meaning no insulin is produced. This causes glucose to rise quickly in the blood.

C not only has complex diabetes, he also has a complex learning disability, so there was no standard solution to his diabetes and when he arrived at Kings Road, his condition had been badly managed and relations with the community support team had broken down.

The Kings Road staff team supported C to better understand his diabetes, better manage his insulin and also gave him restrictions with his diet, which although improved things, made his life more restrictive given it revolved a lot around eating the right foods at the right time. Even with these improvements, C’s insulin levels continued to fluctuate badly.

In 2015, the manager Sophie and Kellie became even more determined to make improvements for C. They re-established the relationship with the community health nurse and made visual representations of C’s glucose levels via colour coded spreadsheets.  It took over a year to see success with staff working daily at some points with the community team, but C’s blood glucose levels are now stable.  This is clearly represented by the graphs below:

Pink = too high

Green = about right

Blue = too low

C’s blood glucose levels in 2015


C’s blood glucose levels in 2016


The resulting health benefits to C are obvious but he is also now able to eat a less restrictive diet and can once again enjoy eating with his housemates and not feel so isolated because of his diet.

This is a great result and shows that with perseverance, creativity and good working relationships great results can be achieved which can make a real difference to a person’s quality of life.


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Four great social inclusion audits

25th November 2016  Add comments

As mentioned in a previous blog, I have started carrying out social inclusion audits when I visit services each week. I’ve done a few now, but I’d like to highlight four of them as they were particularly good: Masons Hill in Bromley, Heathcote in Epsom, The Green in Sutton and Cheam Road in Sutton. I score them on a scale of 0–3 in each of the 10 categories (below) and in each of these four services their scores ranged from 25/30 to 29/30.

10 categories:
Active support
Regular us of community facilities
Independence training
Promoting sport and physical health
Promoting emotional well being
Maintaining contact with family and friends
Sensory stimulation
Use of public transport
Involvement with clubs and societies

0 = No evidence
1 = Limited evidence
2 = Stronger evidence, but patchy
3 = Regular evidence


I saw so many great examples of how this social inclusion is being achieved and the fantastic outcomes that have resulted for service users that we are going to create a best practice book highlighting these examples. This should be available in the New Year.

For now I’d just like to just mention a few of the social inclusion achievements from Heathcote in Epsom. TC has taken on a voluntary job at Head Start which is a homeless shelter in Leatherhead. Here TC not only does the cooking, but is given the responsibility of deciding on the menus each week and buying and serving the food. For someone who is incredibly quiet and shy, this is a fantastic achievement. For 7 years now, Dan has done paid work, 5 days a week, in a club in Epsom as a cleaner. He also has the additional responsibility for unlocking the club and managing the alarm system. Crystal moved to Heathcote from foster parents and now attends an organisation known as KCFC (Kingston Children and Foster Care). Since joining she was asked to put together an article on the Summer BBQ . She was also successfully nominated for an AQA Award and will be presented with her award by the Exec Director on 7th Dec.

(Dan and Crystal have given permission to use their names)

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Evidence of what a difference a good and effective manager can make

14th November 2016 1 Comments

I would like to dedicate this week’s blog to a letter I received from the staff team at our Charmandean Road service in Worthing. It is such a great demonstration of how a good and effective manager can make so much difference to the lives of people we support and the morale of our staff teams:

Dear Peter
We would like to begin with a quote from a recent blog: ‘To others aspiring to provide the highest quality care and support’. You mentioned the ten tips of leaders of social care and as outlined we again remind ourselves of the importance and relevance of these:

• To personally answer all complaints from families
• To personally check improvement plans for any required improvements or inadequate services at least once a month
• Do not take peoples word for it; ask to see evidence
• Be on top of the details that matter; such as turnover, sickness, and up to date training in compliance in the service
• And the list goes on

As a staff team we agreed on the points given and believe this is relevant to what makes good leadership in a social care environment.

Our purpose of writing this letter to you is to acknowledge the phenomenal and outstanding work our manager Jennifer Broadway is doing since taking the mantle as our service manager in Charmandean Road. She has delivered quality service, benefiting all service users and staff, and we wish to continue to support her work.

With her open door policy, Jennifer has valued and respected the needs of her service users dignity and treated staff equally. She has built good rapport and relationships with parties partnered with our service such as GP’s, nurses, OT’s, parents and visitors.

As you are aware, in the past Charmandean has struggled with staffing levels and the attrition rate was increasing. Jennifer has recruited several enthusiastic staff members that complement the needs of running the service.

With her pragmatic leadership, Jennifer has built a strong and competent staff team that execute their duties effectively. Jennifer has been very instrumental in ensuring all shifts are covered where necessary working late, early, long days and night shifts on top of her official schedule.

How could we not be inspired? Seeing our manager take the lead when it comes to service users personal care, laundry and cleaning duties.

We can report to you with sincerity, all the compliances set by CQC have all been followed, for example health and safety checks are regular, and recently all of the electrical supply routes have been tested and the carpets have been professionally cleaned.

Jennifer has booked appointments with health professionals for example, health reviews, flu jabs, occupational therapist reviews. She will personally support them to their appointments.

Jennifer volunteers to drive service users to appointments, activities and to visit family. She does not want them to miss out on opportunities due to lack of drivers on shift.

Over the period as house manager, Jennifer has conducted regular staff, service user and parent meetings, staff appraisals and supervisions. She is vigilant in her work and approachable towards her team.

Jennifer will ensure staff are reminded to follow protocols, complete all documentation for example fire checks, water temperature checks, daily diaries and healthy files.

As the environment is vital to our work she has been advocating for the garden to be maintained and the surroundings we work in to be a clean and safe environment.

The staff morale here at Charmandean is boosted and the atmosphere is very welcoming to work in. We are one happy family which can be demonstrated through our participation celebrating birthdays and Christmas.

Any complaints we are to receive are treated as constructive feedback to help us improve the quality of the service we provide.

We are confident that with Jennifer’s leadership without any doubt we will achieve Outstanding in our next CQC rating. We are therefore appealing to you to give Jennifer the support she needs to continue her hard work to make Charmandean the best service in CMG.

Kind regards
Charmandean staff team


Celebrating annual staff awards and social inclusion audit tool

8th November 2016  Add comments

We held a fantastic Annual Staff Awards Ceremony on Friday evening at a hotel in London’s Kensington. I love this event as it really does highlight the amazing work that our staff do on a daily basis, with nominations made by staff, people we support, family members and external professionals.

This year we had over 400 nominations which is a record number in the 7 years we have been running these awards. A significant amount of these come from families whose nominations were often very moving and demonstrate their appreciation of an employee who has made such a difference to the quality of life of their family member.

What is also great is that staff are invited to this event knowing they are a finalist, but not knowing until the night, which of the 14 categories they have won in or whether they have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd position. Our Chairman, David Spruzen, handed out the personally engraved awards and everyone was treated to a 3 course meal and disco. It really was a great evening.

Staff awards web

If you would like to see a list of all the categories and finalists, please contact

On a slightly less positive note, I’ve noticed occasionally on my visits to services recently a reduction in meaningful activity for the people we support. Michael Fullerton and I have therefore put together a ‘Social Inclusion Audit Tool’ which outlines 10 core activities which the people we support should be engaged in. These core activities are:

Active Support
Regular use of community facilities
Independence training
Promoting sport and physical health
Promoting emotional wellbeing
Maintaining contact with friends
Sensory stimulation
Use of public transport
Involvement with clubs and societies

When I visit services each week I will be scoring them on a scale of 0 – 3 as to how well they are achieving social inclusion against each activity for the people they support.

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Black History Celebrations and valuing our staff

28th October 2016  Add comments

We held another of our fantastic annual events this week, our Black History Celebrations. It was such a great day, packed full of activities to celebrate and embrace the great diversity we have in CMG. It is basically one big party with singing and dancing competitions, a fashion show, face painting, henna tattoos and foods from around the world! It was good to see staff and people we support having so much fun and I think the photo below demonstrates this well. My thanks to Pam Kujeke and her team for cooking and preparing all the fantastic food, to the resource centre in Sutton for organising some amazing artworks that decorated the room and to Sue, Emeka, Harissing, Pam Hirsh, Dan and many others for making it such a successful day.

At our Registered Managers Conference last week we held a workshop on how we can continue to improve valuing our staff. We had some great feedback from our managers and have subsequently put together an action plan to carry forward some of their ideas. This includes improving recruitment processes for example, by having continuous recruitment to reflect turnover rather than recruiting to specific vacancies. Also where staff may not be suitable for one service, we share them with another to avoid losing them. We will also be developing a good practice guide to improve the culture in services. Suggestions included having more fun team meetings, implementing house awards, saying thank you more often and encouraging positivity through a ‘wall of positivity’ with comments and positive staff feedback.

As well as our Employee of the Month Scheme we will also introduce a quarterly Team of The Month Award where the winner will receive a visit from myself, along with a hamper of goodies for the team!


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Three great events in CMG’s calendar!

19th October 2016  Add comments

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks but the highlight has definitely been some fantastic CMG events. Last week we held our fourth Driving Up Quality Roadshow, this time in Hampshire. These events are proving to be really successful with some fantastic pledges being made by people we support in one or more of the following five areas:

Being Out and About
Being Healthy
Coping with Emotions
Gaining Employment

Our Deaf services from the New Forest attended this event and they made a collective pledge for more social clubs/events for Deaf people to attend. In these services both the tenants and staff are D/deaf and all communicate using BSL. We are going to look at ways in which we can help them achieve their pledge.


Last week we also held our 20th Anniversary celebrations for our Welsh services (we held our celebrations for our English services back in July). Staff, people we support and their families and professionals from across South Wales joined the festivities at Islwyn Indoor Bowls Club in Blackwood. Guests were greeted by Claire Pritchard our Operations Director for Wales who gave a welcoming speech in both Welsh and English, before the celebrations got under way.

There was a full programme of music and arts focused events including a ‘Welsh Factor’ singing competition, art therapy workshops, poetry, photography and even Zumba classes and a baking competition. We were also treated to an amazing performance by the Blaenavon Male Voice Choir. Well done to all involved for a fantastic day.

Yesterday we held our annual Registered Manager’s Conference attended by all managers across CMG. This is an annual gathering and it’s always great to see all our managers and give them the opportunity to network with one another. The day’s programme included a mix of key note speakers as well as workshops where everyone has the chance to discuss various topics. This year the workshops focussed on: End of Life Plans; Leadership and Culture in Teams; Managing Stressed Staff Teams and Retaining and Valuing our Staff. Former Olympian, Derek Redmond also gave us a truly inspirational presentation on achieving success and the importance of working as a team to achieve that success. A really successful day and I’d like to thank all our managers for taking the time to attend.

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I’m with Sam. Tackling hate crime.

13th October 2016  Add comments

This week’s blog comes from Sharon Allen, CEO of Skills for Care and National Skills Academy for Social Care and highlights a topic that I’m extremely passionate about:

I was recently at the launch event for I’m With Sam – hashtag #imwithsam – an important campaign to tackle hate crime against people with learning disabilities and autism being led by Dimensions, and I was thinking how sad it is that we even have to address a basic human rights issue like this one.

We also have to live in the real world where 73% of people with autism or learning disabilities have experienced hate crime so Skills for Care is 100% behind this campaign. Anything that challenges those who perpetrate this dreadful crime in our community and also the rest of us not to stand by can only be a good thing.

At the launch I bumped into Peter Kinsey, CEO at Care Management Group, who shared my anger that hate crimes like this still happen, and we also had an interesting chat about what makes a great adult social care leader.

Regular followers of my blogs will know leadership is a subject I am hugely interested in because the golden thread that links quality providers is outstanding leaders who set the bar very high and lead by example

Peter shares many of my views of makes a good leader and I think we both agree that we should be better at sharing what makes for effective leadership. As a provider who has achieved Outstanding rating from CQC I know Peter is hugely keen to share and support others aspiring to provide the highest quality care and support. I took the opportunity to ask Peter to give me his 10 top tips for leaders in social care and he took up my challenge:

1. Visit services every week
2. Set up separate representative structures for people you support families and front line staff and meet them regularly
3. Work at least 2 hands on shifts a year
4. Ask powerful questions like what specifically? How specifically?
5. Don’t take people’s word for it ask to see the evidence
6. Personally check improvement plans for any requires improvement or inadequate services at least once a month
7. Be on top of the detail that matters like turnover sickness and training compliance in each service
8. Personally answer all complaints from families
9. Always have quality as the first agenda item in your board report
10. Never forget to ask would I be happy for a member of my family to live here.

These are exactly the sort for useful tips – applicable to any organisation – I was hoping Peter would come up with and there is nothing there that I would disagree with, or didn’t do when I led a social care provider organisation. That said it’s important to always share our thoughts on leadership as if I have learnt one thing it is foolish to think you are the complete leader as that just breeds complacency.

My thanks to Peter for sharing his thoughts and if any of you have a similar top ten list then I’d love to hear from you so I can share your thinking too.

Sharon Allen
CEO of Skills for Care and National Skills Academy for Social Care.

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Discount schemes and recognition schemes for staff

27th September 2016 2 Comments

The importance of recognition schemes for staff

I’ve talked a lot about staff pay in previous editions of my blog, which as you will know is predominantly governed by the fees paid by Local Authorities who fund the people we support in CMG. Whilst we continue to make every effort to request fee increases from these Authorities, we do also try really hard to look at other ways to recognise and reward our staff. Staff are the lifeblood of CMG and will always be a top priority for us. I therefore want to dedicate this blog to four different schemes we have launched in the last couple of years to recognise and reward our staff.

The most recent of these is a staff discount scheme called Perkbox, which in just two short months, has collectively saved staff over £17k! And not all staff have logged on yet (please don’t miss out!).

This scheme gives permanent staff access to over 180 benefits and perks to save money. Categories include: Food and Drink, Entertainment, High Street shopping, Technology, Family, Motoring, Travel, Clothing and Fashion, Home and Office, Fitness and Health and Salary Sacrifice

If staff haven’t activated their membership yet, they can request a letter from their home manager or contact (in Central HR) for the Code to log on. Once logged on they can download a free ‘Perkbox’ app to their mobile through Play Store or App Store. The rest is pretty much self explanatory.

Here are just a couple of examples of staff who have commented about the benefits:

“I ordered 4 tickets for a day out to Chessington World of Adventures (2 adult, 2 children) the price should have been around £200 but I got all 4 tickets for £90.00. It was an easy process. You select the number of tickets, pay for them online, then the retailer emails you with all of the information.”

“Myself and quite a few others have redeemed discounted cinema tickets. Go online to the Perkbox app, click on the cinema of your choice, order tickets and redeem the perk. You pay online for your chosen quantity at the preferred location, tickets work out around £7.00 each rather than £14.00+. They are valid for a month and can be used for any film.”

Last year we also launched an Employee of the Month scheme, to recognise employees who have excelled each month. There is a first prize of £100, a second prize of £50 and a third prize of £30. We have already awarded over 50 employees since the scheme was launched.

We also run an annual Staff Awards Ceremony in a top London hotel, where we recognise staff in 14 different categories and each is awarded with an engraved plaque. This year’s ceremony takes place in November and we have just finished the judging of over 400 excellent nominations, including those from staff, people we support, family members and Local Authority commissioning teams.

Staff awards web

Lastly since the beginning of this year, we launched a Long Service scheme where we recognise and reward employees who have reached 5, 10, 15 and 20 years service. Awards range from £25 to £100 depending on the length of service.




Another successful family conference and Lucy sings on stage!

16th September 2016  Add comments

I am dedicating this week’s blog to our annual Family Conference which took place last weekend. We had some great speakers at the event including Matt Groves from Mencap talking about the things to consider when making a Will or Trust for a person with learning disabilities. We also had Katie Clarke from charity group Bringing Us Together who gave top tips for avoiding crisis and admission into Assessment and Treatment Units (ATU’s). Unfortunately this happens far too often these days and there have been some high profile cases in the news recently. Katie outlined a case study where a parent, whose son had a diagnosis of Autism, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and admitted into an ATU hundreds of miles away from home, where he was heavily drugged and his health and behaviour declined rapidly. Thankfully this particular parent had the wherewithal to fight the system, including appearing in recent television documentaries and she was eventually able to bring her son home, but it took years.

In the afternoon, we held 3 workshops. One on ‘relationships and sexuality’, one on ‘building resilience’ (staying strong when the system knocks you down) and ‘autism from a parent’s perspective’. We were also treated to an excellent performance by CMG’s drama group, the Brelade Players.

We had some great feedback from the day with everyone who filled out an evaluation form strongly agreeing or agreeing that the day was helpful. Here are just some of the comments we received from family members who attended:

“All the speakers we heard covered subjects about which we had some concerns. It was so good to be provided with pathways to solutions/improvement.“

“Really informative and enjoyable day”

“Very worthwhile conference thank you”

“A thoroughly enjoyable, informative day”


I would also like to mention a lovely young lady who lives at our Hervey Road service in London. Lucy Parrin is 19 years old and before coming to CMG in November 2015 used to reject all the support offered to her and was never willing to engage in any activities. Lucy is a very talented singer but did not believe in herself and suffered from anxiety so would never think that she could sing or perform in front of an audience. With the structured support she has received from the dedicated staff at Hervey Road, she has since attended a college of performing arts, has sung at a show and is due to sing at CMG’s annual Black History celebrations next month. You can hear Lucy sing here: . Well done to all involved for such a great outcome.


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Turning a house into a lovely home in Ashtead!

26th August 2016  Add comments

I want to dedicate this week’s blog to a service we have in Ashtead, Surrey called Shardeloes and a fantastic party they organised this week.

We were lucky enough to employ a new manager in this service in October last year, Marta Woodward, and she has done an incredible job in turning the service from a house into a lovely home. Marta and her team have not only dedicated a lot of hours to improving the quality of life for the people living there by implementing a person centred approach to all aspects of support, but her team also took it upon themselves to decorate the inside of the property, often in their own time. Individuals’ bedrooms have been decorated in a personalised manner, such as one gentleman having a royal themed bedroom and another a music theme. Not only that but they have also done a great job of making the garden a much nicer space too.

In order to celebrate their achievements and show everybody the amazing changes, they organised a summer party last week. Neighbours, family members and external professionals were all invited to attend and the nine people they support at Shardeloes all helped in the preparation for the party, each playing an important role in the organisation.

Activities included face painting, a lucky dip, sweet shop, drumming session and an animal farm. As the property has no side access, the pig, goat, donkey and other animals had to come through the front door! The party was such a success, helped by a gorgeous sunny day, that it went on from 2pm until gone 7pm. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was clear that the people we support and all the guests had a lovely time.

Here are just some of the compliments they received from the day:

Absolutely fantastic day, staff and service users were so welcoming. A lot of time and effort was put into the day. Thank you Shardeloes for an amazing time” – Staff member from Seeability

Had a lovely day. Lots of entertainment and very nice people. Staff are amazing. House is a wonderful place” – Neighbour

What a great afternoon everyone enjoyed themselves in the drumming session. The staff are welcoming and it was great to see everyone having such a good time” – Family member

Brilliant afternoon. The drummer was great and all the clients seemed to enjoy themselves and really interacted in the session. It is lovely and friendly here” – Neighbour

I’d also like to share Shardeloes recipe for happiness which they have certainly achieved:

1 bag of smiles
2 cups of sharing
2lbs of positivity
½ cup of good humour
1 cup of self esteem
2 spoonfuls of simplicity
1 dash of Goodwill
4 drops of easy-going
1 big packet of life loving.

Shardeloes 1

Shardeloes 3

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Members of