Finding work for people we support and concerns about Southern NHS Trust

26 May 2016

I visited 12 services last week and am generally impressed with the increasing activity that I am seeing encouraging people we support into paid and voluntary employment. When I visited Hillview, I met a young man who is hopefully about to start a job working in a warehouse. He told me that he has a track record of not staying in jobs for very long and we talked about the importance of sticking at it. I made a deal with him that, it I mention him in my blog, which I have now done, he will stay there for at least three months. I will be checking!

In this blog I would like to pay tribute to Andy Wasley who works for Pure Innovations and previously worked for CMG for many years and whose role is helping to support CMG service users into jobs. Andy has been doing that for the last four years and more recently has expanded his role into promoting voluntary employment opportunities as well. He is an extremely enthusiastic person and it is to his credit that he always remains so positive as his job does involve quite a lot of setbacks, with employers messing him around and people we support changing their mind as to whether they want a job or not.

I would particularly like to highlight four examples of Andy’s work:
• He has helped a young man from Hillview get a job as a groundsman at Reigate Cricket Club.
• He has worked with the staff team at Estann House in the New Forest helping a young woman with physical disabilities get office work experience at the town hall. The need to work in a wheel chair accessible environment has been a particular challenge there.
• He has supported a tenant from Rutland Gardens in Hove to get involved with a forest garden and wild life project. She spends four hours a week there and gets involved in growing vegetables and cooking. It is a very sociable community which suits her down to the ground.
• Andy is working with another young person where the individual will quite frequently touch people inappropriately. Andy has come up with the idea of finding them work experience that involves getting their hands dirty (literally!) in a horticultural project. It is harder to go round touching people when you have muddy hands. This is a great example of using creativity to get around a problem.

There is no weed of the week winner this week. I did visit a service where there were quite a few weeds in the car park. I told the manager that the service was going to be the winner and she asked two of the tenants to put their gloves on and pull the weeds out. They did that before I left so I don’t think it is fair to name them.

Finally, I do occasionally dip my toe into more controversial waters. I feel I should mention the huge level of anger there is in the sector about Southern Health NHS Trust and the perceived lack of progress in changing the organisation and its culture. This is despite another very concerning CQC inspection report. Southern Health is the Trust which ran the assessment and treatment unit where Connor Sparrowhawk very sadly died. I am aware of families in the trust catchment area who say they are too frightened to use its services. I was with a group of provider Chief Executives recently where there was a lot of comment about the perceived lack of action by CQC to address the concerns. There also appears to have been limited change to the Trust’s leadership. As Chief Executive of CMG, the buck stops with me. There are problems in all organisations from time to time and it is my job to make sure they get sorted out. However, if there were deep and systemic problems at CMG, then I would take responsibly and go.

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