What a beautiful weekend we had. On Saturday I managed to get out into the sunshine and visit several of our services who were celebrating ‘National Care Home Day’. I had a fun day seeing what the services had on offer. There were BBQ’s, bouncy castles, games, activities, music and much more. I visited Dyke road, Brighton and watched a performance by the residents. It was very entertaining!.
Rachael Dodgson too was out visiting services and enjoying the festivities. This is what she had to say:
“I was struck by how many of our staff brought their family members which was nice to see.” and “At St Helier the neighbours and local shop keeper came along and they had specially designed CMG balloons.”
The national care home initiative was started 6 years ago, to improve and strengthen links between the local communities and care homes. Their key values are friendships, making connections and celebrating older and vulnerable people.
Care homes all over the country open their doors to the local communities to celebrate people, cultures and relationships. Not only does this link communities and bring people closer together, it changes perceptions that care homes are dull places, where nothing interesting happens. On the contrary services are welcoming places to visit, with fascinating and unique people and a full calendar of events and daily activities.
It is impressive the hard work and dedication that goes into care work, to enrich people’s lives and encourage personal development. I visit around 10 services a week and I am always proud to see the compassion and support that the staff give. It is wonderful to see the meaningful relationships that are built within the services over the years.
Kings Road in Hampshire had various activities happening throughout the day. With attendance from family members, people from the local community as well as their local MP Caroline Dineage (pictured below).
This week’s blog is dedicated to ‘Driving Up Quality’. Yesterday we had our annual event, which was a great success. I would like to thank everyone who came and participated and also to all of the facilitators who provided informative and engaging workshops. The CMG magic was definitely in full bloom!
For those of you who don’t know, the driving up quality initiative was conceived by the provider sector, of which CMG was a leading partner. This was to make sure that the atrocities and abuse that were discovered at Winterbourne View would never happen again.
The DUQ code was launched in 2013 to set out the following 5 key standards for learning disability care:
Support focussed on the person
An ordinary and meaningful life
Being happy and quality of life
Good culture and the organisation
Lead and run the organisation well
The day started with my welcome and introduction, followed by presentations from 3 of our services, discussing how they have driven up quality in their services over the last year.
Firstly Sophie talked about the EE (encourage and empower) club. The EE club meet on a weekly basis, for the people we support to network and share ideas. Various events and activities are held throughout the year, and the people we support are recruited to coordinate.
The second presentation was by Charlotte from Carden Avenue, speaking about the Coastal post newsletter. It updates everyone on what’s been happening in those services during the last months. These include new developments, news, local events, activities and personal outcomes.
The third presentation was by Zofia, she presented with some of the people we support from Dyke road Brighton, they spoke about the self assessment they did as a service
After the presentations the group broke off into 3 workshops:
Health & screening
Erren and Katie gave an informative session on screening for breast and testicle cancer, with model breast and testicles to practice looking for lumps. This workshop was enjoyed by all, albeit there were quite a few giggles throughout the sessions. This was followed on by Sarah and Mark, who did a great session on feelings and emotions, and how to ‘interrupt’ these negative emotions/feelings with different activities and exercises.
This session focussed on STOMP, the health campaign to stop the over-use of psychotropic medication to manage people’s behaviour. The workshop was run by Aine and Michael who reviewed the progress from last year’s DUQ and also looked at how CMG can further reduce the over medication of people with learning disabilities. Workshops discussed side effects of psychotropic medication and looked at alternative ways we can help the people we support and manage their beahviour in a positive way.
Employment and Education
This workshop was broken up into different areas; identification of everyday signs, experimenting with different paints, colours, shapes and textures and employment table focusing on work opportunities, and different ways on how to achieve paid and voluntary jobs.
To wrap up the day services and the people we support wrote pledges for the upcoming year. Afterwards they had the opportunity to share their pledges with the rest of the group. Here are some of the topics they chose:
Support and reminders to do breast and testicle checks
Increase activities and day out trips
Further promotion in independence (ASDAN)
Decreasing the intake of sugary drinks
More encouragement for employment
Stress management sessions
More medication/health reviews
More assistive technology
Watch this space, for more photos and the CMG ‘Driving Up Quality’ 2018 video.
It is very important for us that the people we support are able to voice their opinions and are heard. Within CMG we have a group of self advocates called ‘Campaigning for Change’; they are a group of people we support from different parts of the country who represent the people we support. They campaign for various topics that are important to them and for people with learning disabilities in general. Currently CFC has 7 members: Mary from Greenwich, David from Greenwich, Stevie from Brighton, Leon from Sutton, Alex from Blackwood, Mark and Christopher from Watford. The CFC members have given us permission to use their names.
CFC (Campaign for Change) are currently involved in various campaigns including improving the environment in the local area, raising awareness against hate crime towards people with disabilities, promoting no early bedtimes and healthy relationships.
A new campaign CFC (Campaign for Change) are getting behind and we are promoting at CMG is #MindYourLanguage. This is a campaign to raise awareness of how people receiving support are spoken to and addressed. It is important to understand that there are some widely used words and phrases that can give offence, as they reinforce prejudice and perpetuate discriminatory attitudes and practices among the general public.
Some staff and health care professionals can occasionally use certain words and phrases to label, and refer to people they support which can feel demeaning. Staff may use this language without a harmful intent, more often it is through habit or from brevity. In some cases, people are described by their diagnosis and challenges rather than their personality. This denies the individual their value, their worth and their individuality.
Language is the way we communicate with people, it is a powerful tool and if used positively, has the ability to lift people up, to inspire, and support. With #mindyourlanguage, our aim is to prompt staff to be mindful of language and to encourage them to use it in a way that empowers and strengthens the people we support.
Mary ‘Campagining for Change” member said “When staff use the term ‘Service User’ it sounds a bit like we’re children or students at school,”.
CFC has told us they don’t very much like the word ‘Service User’. If I’m honest, though I’ve used it for years, I’ve never been particularly keen either. A few other organisations that support people with learning disabilities have moved away from this term and in CMG we are intending to do the same. Instead of referring to people as ‘Service Users’, we are now going to refer to people either simply as ‘People’ or ‘People we Support’. This will take a bit of time and I am sure I along with other people will fall back into old habits. If I do, please remind me. I’ll be grateful if we could all try and start referring to people in the way I’ve described as they find it more respectful than the term ‘Service User’. It will take some time for this change to embed and it will also take time for our policy and training documents to catch up with this.
I really would appreciate your feedback on this: please contact me via Peter.Kinsey@cmg.co.uk
The grand opening of the new supported living at Carden Avenue 22a & 22b
I’m happy to announce this week that two of our services have moved to Brighton and changed from registered residential living to supported living. This move has provided tenants with more independence and flexibility of their own care, through bespoke care packages and person centred plans based on individual and varying needs.
At CMG we are continually improving our services, to offer the best care and opportunities possible to all the people we support. In this case some of the tenants have been with us for over 20 years. During this time their personal, health care and mobility needs have changed.
The two new supported living services are side by side. They are eight bedroom purpose built properties, all with accessible en-suite wet rooms, hoists and lifts to all floors. The move was fulfilled to provide residents with more comfort and increase daily independence. These services are suited to, cater for people in their senior years, meaning they wouldn’t ever need to move again.
Each person was reassessed by CMG’s referral and assessment team to ensure their most up to date and current needs were recognised and support funding would be in place to meet those needs.
Personal relationships are very important to us. To keep continuity all tenants were moved together, along with their support staff and managers. This was great for the tenants and staff, as relationships have already been built, the staff have an in-depth understanding of the needs of each tenant and it has minimised any anxieties people may have had. .
Positive experiences are gained from working together, to ensure a smooth transition each tenant was involved as much as possible with the move; they got to choose their own bedrooms, colours and coordinating curtains. They had the opportunity to visit the new services at least once prior to the move to familiarise themselves with their new home. They could see the transformation of their individual rooms, reflecting their style and personality. Those with the capacity were fully involved in the tenancy signing. Easy read tenancies were available from the landlord which helped with understanding.
Every tenant had their own individual transition plan developed by CMG which explored visits to be made, equipment needed on moving, room allocation and engagement with external professionals where required, such as occupational therapists.
The move was a success and the new services look great, everyone seems to be settling in well and enjoying their new homes. B and Michael were happy to share their stories. Please see below:
B had been living at Walsingham Road for nearly 31 years; she lived there before CMG took over ownership in 1987. B has health issues as well as a learning disability and an anxiety disorder. As you can imagine she was very worried and nervous about the move, she believed that she would be left behind, or that she wasn’t really moving at all. B’s transition has been based on ‘owning’ her own room. Every week leading up to the move, staff would place something in B’s new room, so she could see that it was truly hers.
M has autism along with a learning disability. He moved from Rutland Gardens so hadn’t previously met or lived with the Walsingham residents. The move was always going to be a bit challenging to get right. However, M transitioned amazingly into his lovely new home. His move was focused on getting to know everyone. He would have weekly tea and cake with the Walsingham residents and join in with any parties they had. Since the move he has settled in well, he sits and chats with others and goes out onto joint trips into the community.
Charlotte Barns on M’s move:
“I watched him yesterday evening giggling with two of our service users together in the lounge and thought how amazing he has been, and the others have just accepted him into the group with no issues. He appears to have a great connection with them all, particularly the males of our house”
Charlotte Barns, Service Manager at Carden Avenue said “. I am extremely proud at how successfully they have transitioned, in my opinion they are much happier to have the space, more independence in terms of their own en-suite bathrooms and to have such a beautiful area to live in – we back on to a forest type area – all you can hear is birds in the back garden!”
I’m proud to announce that our subsidiary Alderwood has received 4 “Outstanding” ratings in their latest CQC report; this is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the hard work and dedication of all their staff. Alderwood cares for some of the most challenging people with Autism in the UK.
The CQC report highlights strong themes throughout the reports across the services in the following areas –
‘Staff were passionate and dedicated to their roles and had belief in the ethos of the support they received, and that of the provider in general. Staff were innovative in their approach to support, and were enthusiastic about supporting people to overcome life’s hurdles.’
Person- Centred Care
“People with complex needs and behaviours that may challenge, were being empowered and enabled to feel a part of their community, and to achieve their goals and more”
“The service was flexible and adapted to people’s changing needs and desires, enabling positive outcomes for all concerned. People felt a part of their community, and were able to take pride in their achievements.”
“One person was encouraged to attend a local church group. They had been supported to bake some cakes which they could then take to the church group and donate. We saw that the person’s family history, culture and religion were being respected and encouraged, and the person was able to feel part of a community that was important to them.”
“People using the service had the opportunity to walk and care for a dog on a daily basis, each person’s journey was documented and involved social stories, and gradual introduction to the dog and the tasks surrounding its care.”
“An allotment project had been started by the service as another activity for people. We saw the service had custom made pictorial guides to explain how numerous different vegetables could be grown and when.”
“Alderwood provides a very high quality and safe service to people with learning disability. I personally have found Alderwood staff very courteous, professional, responsive and reliable.”
One relative said, “It’s remarkable really what they have achieved. I don’t think there is anywhere better.”
“All the staff we spoke with spoke positively about the management and the provider, and proud to call themselves employees.”
A staff member said, “The company like to grow their own managers, which is quite inspiring and motivates you to do a good job.”
Once again congratulations to everyone for this wonderful achievement, none of this would have been possible without the continual support and commitment from the managers and staff at those services. They go above and beyond to ensure the best quality service to everyone in their care.
I will finish this week’s blog with a quote from our operations director and head of services at Alderwood, Linda Fish –
“We are both very dedicated and passionate about our work and over the years, we have strived to feed our passion and practices on to others. We know we have some fantastic managers and staff members who, alongside ourselves, will continue to lead the way in providing services that support the most challenging and vulnerable people in society today.”
I was on annual leave last week and happened to miss all of the snow that hit various parts of the UK, but this week I’ve heard a number of stories regarding the effort support staff across CMG made to get into work despite the adverse conditions. I wanted to highlight some of these as we always appreciate the dedication many of our front line staff show when the weather takes a turn and isn’t on our side.
At Telegraph Road in Southampton, the Deputy Manager and Lead Support Worker both stayed at the service for three days, sleeping over for two nights, as other members of staff were unable to get in and they were unable to travel back home. Beulah Crescent in Thornton Heath experienced a similar scenario to Telegraph Road, and at Hillview in Merstham, staff willing swapped shifts to accommodate those who couldn’t reach the service and ensured good staffing levels were maintained. At 29 Bushey Hall Road, meanwhile, one member of staff managed to travel from East London to Hertfordshire, where the service is located, to get to work in spite of multiple train cancellations and a treacherous walk.
Wales was one part of the country that was particularly badly hit last week, with up to 30-40cm’s of snow in some places. Yet this didn’t stop several of our support staff from making the journey into work and Claire Pritchard, our Operations Director for Wales, has designed and given out certificates of appreciation to those who coped and handled the situation. Ty Gorsaf and Cwrt-Y-Bella were two of our most severely affected Welsh services and were cut off from the local community for almost a week.
At The Ridgeway in Essex, staff made an extra effort to ensure that the people they support didn’t get bored, bringing in games, foot spas, face masks and more. Whilst their service manager was unable to get access to the service, the staff rallied around to make sure that every shift was covered and service users did not become distressed by the change to their routine. During the four days that they were snowed in and unable to leave the house, no medication was administered for challenging behaviour and staff supported anxieties well.
We also saw some incredible dedication from our agency staff with one individual who works at Park Avenue and Clandon Close sleeping on the floor of one of the services so that they wouldn’t miss their shift the next day. Thanks to their commitment, and the strong relationship that has been built between the agency and the services, both Park Avenue and Clandon Close were able to run at their normal staff ratio.
These are just a few examples of the effort that has been made by staff at CMG services across the country. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the lengths some have gone to to guarantee that they were able to work their planned shifts. For some of the people we support, sudden change to their routine or being supported by someone who isn’t their usual key worker can cause a great amount of distress and anxiety. In many cases we were able to avoid this due to the perseverance of our excellent staff teams.
Below are just a few of the photos we have been sent of staff and service users enjoying the snow.
As many people will know, I am incredibly passionate about the people we support becoming more independent and securing jobs, whether paid or voluntary, in the local community. I believe that through obtaining employment, individuals can learn a number of new skills and it enables them to become more self-sufficient as they earn their own money, can, where possible, travel to and from their workplace by themselves, and will develop a greater understanding of accountability and taking responsibility for tasks assigned to them.
At CMG, we have seven people who live at one of our services and who hold jobs at our Head Office in Leatherhead. Simon Tobin is one of these individuals and this week, I’d like to discuss his journey.
Simon has autism and moved to our Hillview service in Merstham in mid 2012 (he is now based at Heathcote Road in Epsom), having previously lived at a residential boarding school in Hampshire. Prior to joining CMG Simon had already begun holding talks where he discussed his experience of living with autism, but these were sporadic due to both his lack of confidence and knowledge of who to contact to spread his message on a wider scale.
In early 2013, not long after Simon had joined us, Andy Wasley (our Employment Officer) got in touch with Sarah Evans, our Head of Human Resources and Learning and Development, to make Sarah aware of Simon’s prior experience speaking to groups of people and his passion for advocating on behalf of those also diagnosed with autism. This led to Sarah offering Simon the opportunity to run training sessions for new members of staff specifically around autism awareness. Titled ‘Autism and Me’, Simon has now been running these sessions for almost five years and where he used to only do a session every couple of months, Simon is now employed by the L&D team to hold 3 to 4 sessions per month.
In his presentation to new members of staff at CMG, Simon covers a breath of topics related to his autism specifically as well as autism in general. He discusses sensory needs, behaviour and communication and emotional and sensory overload. Simon has become so comfortable at talking in front of a group of people that he is now able to tailor his presentation to suit a number of different audiences. This has also led to Simon being approached by external organisations who ask him to present to their staff or at national conferences around the country. An example of this is the National Autism Show which Simon spoke at in both 2014 and 2015.
If you thought Simon is busy enough as it is, this isn’t his only job at CMG. Simon also spends 4 hours a week working on reception at our Head Office. Simon shares this role with a number of other people who we support and who live in services local to Leatherhead. At first Simon undertook the role on a voluntary basis, working just 2 hours a week, and he was always supported by another member of staff as he did not feel confident enough to be by himself. It didn’t take long, however, for Simon’s self-belief to greatly improve and now he really enjoys the responsibility of working by himself on the front desk, answering the phone and being the first port of call for questions from staff across the company.
For Simon, moving into a Supported Living service for the first time and then starting a paid job role within the space of half a year was quite a “shock to the system”. Learning how to manage his money was particularly difficult at first due to the high level of residential support he received at his previous placement. Now, however, Simon is 95% independent in the community and lives a very busy lifestyle, regularly attending the cinema and meeting up with friends.
This is a fantastic example of how encouraging the people we support to become more integrated into the local community and to secure work opportunities can have a fantastic impact on their long term wellbeing.
I visited a number of services in Brighton yesterday and particularly wanted to highlight some of the good work that the staff team are doing around social inclusion at The Droveway. They support people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) but don’t let that stop them promoting social inclusion. They have a social inclusion board in the house showing opportunities for the people they support to get actively involved in the community. This includes several service users regularly attending football matches at Brighton and Hove Albion.
They also do a great job supporting people who have very complex health needs. People they support are regularly admitted to hospital and they work very well with the local NHS services. They have started implementing a new very person centred way of monitoring pain and discomfort by recording people’s facial expressions and body language. They have a clear baseline against which they can notice any changes which might suggest someone is in pain or discomfort.
Whilst I’ve been going around services, I have also started to do my test checking whether our staff knows CMG’s values. I haven’t done this for a while and generally things have slipped a bit. Following a consultation with staff across the organisation, we made one change to our statement of values. The easiest way to remember our values is to use the acronym SODA. This stands for:
It’s been a little while since my last blog post so I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year before it’s too late. I hope that you had a nice rest over the festive period, whether you were working or not, and are feeling motivated for what 2018 has in store.
Prior to the Christmas break, I spent some time working hands on in one of our services which I really enjoyed. I worked alongside some very motivated staff and some fantastic people with learning disabilities.
It was really helpful and insightful to spend a concentrated period of time working in one of our services. I thought I would share with you some of the thoughts I’ve had as a result of this experience:
– Organisation is key. It is really important that there is an effective shift planning process in place which efficiently allocates staff time across the service and allows service users to be supported to participate in their activities. This is particularly important when people are out and about and need to be supported to go to a variety of different venues. I have termed the phrase ‘pleasantly bossy’ to describe the skills required of shift leaders. You do need to be quite assertive to organise colleagues on a shift and to ensure that everybody knows what they need to do and where they need to go.
– People we support are often an underused asset. For example, in the service in which I was working, there were some basic household activities that needed to be carried out like spring cleaning and of course weeding. These provided great opportunities for engaging the people we support in meaningful activity.
– I was reminded of the importance of person centred active support, which means supporting people to engage in everyday activities and always doing things with people, not for people. Household activities like menu planning, cooking, shopping, cleaning and doing the washing are very useful ways of meaningfully occupying people, as well as helping them to develop their skills and independence. One young man I worked with was particularly proud of himself for the great job he did helping to spring clean his flat.
– Basic standards of care and support are incredibly important and sometimes overlooked. By this, I mean ensuring people receive good personal care, are supported to have good oral hygiene and are encouraged to keep their flats clean and tidy with appropriate care given for people’s clothing.
– It’s important to ensure that systems don’t get in the way of people having a really good life. In services there are important things to attend to, like recording medication and service users’ financial expenditure. If you’re not careful, this can become the priority rather than people engaging in meaningful activities of their choice.
– The calibre of front line staff is essential. As well as people having good values, it’s incredibly important that we employ staff who can use their initiative and work out what needs to be done without constant guidance and direction. I’ve always been a big fan of common sense, but feel particularly strongly that this is a very important asset for front line staff.
– Most people who work in social care are well meaning and it’s important that we recognise and value what they do. Simple things like thanking people and saying ‘well done’ can easily be forgotten, but actually mean a lot.
– Some challenging behaviour can be very complicated and requires an approach that provides in-depth positive behavioural support. Some minor challenges, however, can be dealt with in a straight forward manner such as distracting the individual, changing the subject or keeping people busy and occupied with meaningful activity. I worked with a young man who can sometimes touch people inappropriately as a way of getting attention. I found having both his hands fully occupied by doing the hoovering was an effective way of stopping this behaviour and it helped him to feel involved.
Raising The Bar PMLD Conference sets new standards
As those of you will know who read my blog each week, I often comment on how brilliant our CMG events are as we really do lead the field in this area within social care. As well as our usual annual programme of events, we also like to take the lead on best practice initiatives in the sector, as we did with our STOMP conference at Westminster earlier in the year. Last week was no exception. With Michael Fullerton’s lead (in conjunction with other PMLD organisations*) they hosted ‘Raising the Bar’, the first national conference with an exclusive focus on profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).
Taking place at the Manchester Conference Centre, Raising the Bar saw the launch of the new Core and Essential Service Standards for supporting people with PMLD, to raise the bar for what best practice care looks like across the UK and beyond. The conference also aimed to establish better networking around PMLD, which until now has been a largely neglected area in the sector and society more widely. The conference was sold out within weeks of it being advertised and I’m told was so oversubscribed that people were prepared to sit on the stairs in the conference room so they didn’t miss out!
The Core Service Standards are aimed at commissioners, providers of care services and educational establishments, including specialist schools, to ensure equity of support and provision, in the hope that the standards will be used to support adults and children with PMLD, in social care and assisted living settings. The standards are focused on what should be put into place within the organisation, including quality of care, leadership, support and training for staff members.
I’d like to leave you with a lovely quote from Rachel Wright, trained nurse and parent of a child with profound and multiple learning disabilities who attended last week’s conference: ““The PMLD National Conference presented a fantastic mix of research, inspiring practice and standards that, if employed, can change the lives of those with PMLD. But the best part for me, was that throughout the day the voices and views of those with PMLD and their families were at the centre.”
* The Raising the Bar conference and Core Standards were the initiative of CMG, Michael Fullerton, Head of Inclusive Research at Choice Support, Dr Thomas Doukas, Ann Fergusson, Editor at PMLD Link and a family carer, and Joanna Grace, from The Sensory Projects. The Core Standards Guide was endorsed by NHS England, with a Forward by Norman Lamb, MP.