I had a busy first week back from holiday last week including visiting 12 services. I also received two more CQC reports, one for our Birdhouse Rise and one for our Beulah Road services, both in Croydon. These services were rated as ‘good’ in all 5 areas and ‘good’ overall, and the description of services provided was ‘excellent’. Congratulations to the staff team at both services. It just shows how high a bar we now have to reach to gain an ‘outstanding’ rated service.
On a less positive note, I received complaints about quality of care of one of the people we support, from their family. I went to the family’s home on Friday evening to discuss their concerns which I’m sure we can put right very quickly. One of my frustrations with the care sector is a sloppiness and lack of attention to detail that sometimes creeps in. We put a strong emphasis on attention to detail in our training with staff, but still sometimes, they don’t get things right. The analogy I use is that you wouldn’t send poorly prepared, half cold food out in a restaurant, otherwise you would soon go out of business, so why should it be any different in care?
Because we have an increasing number of active parents involved in the people we support, we created the post of Relative Liaison Officer about a year and half ago to make sure that we had effective communication with them and that any concerns families had are acted on quickly and responsively. I’ve asked our Relative Liaison Officer to be in fortnightly contact with the family I saw on Friday evening to make sure every one of their issues is addressed. Rather depressingly, concerns from families tend to fall into the same half a dozen themes and my meeting on Friday was no different: activities, food, clothing (including lost and damaged in the wash), health or health appointments and always communication. For any CMG staff and managers reading this blog, I would urge you to pay attention to these issues and above all communication, because if that is working well, all the other issues can get addressed quite easily.
I found out last week that there is a working group within the Winterbourne View programme structure, whose remit is to develop new staff service models for community based services that will be an alternative to hospital care. It sounds like a sensible initiative however when I looked at the lengthy list of attendees, I didn’t see any providers with expertise in actually running those types of services. The list was mainly NHS, Local Authority and Department of Health figures. With all respect to them, they don’t run residential and supported living services for people with complex needs and challenging behaviour. Doing that well is a very different ball-game to running hospital services. This is an issue I will be raising with NHS England.
I do think one of the keys to ensuring we stop the continued high level of admissions of people into assessment and treatment units is to provide appropriate community based alternatives, including crisis support. CMG has a very good crisis team and we are offering that service, initially to London Boroughs, to see if we can be of any help in trying to stop inappropriate hospital admissions. I am also very keen to see if we can develop this type of service either working in partnership with other providers or with local specialist learning disability services run by the NHS.