I visited 17 services last week, including 10 in Wales. I was very impressed when I visited Glencourt to see some excellent person centred active support (PCAS) in action. Glencourt has always been really good at implementing PCAS and I witnessed service users, who spent many years institutionalised in long stay hospitals, participating in activities in the kitchen without even needing to be prompted by staff. You know when PCAS is really embedded when service users automatically get on with activities without needing the staff to encourage them. I was also impressed when I visited our Tynewydd service in Hirwaun to hear about one of the tenants who has a local allotment which he tends regularly. He has got to know a number of local residents who also have allotments and they are very supportive of him. He is also very proud of the produce he grows which regularly becomes ingredients for the Sunday roast. This is a great example of social inclusion.
I also visited a service which we have just taken over from another provider having won a tender. It is a supported living service for 2 young men with Autism who have complex needs. I spent some time talking to the staff team who told me that they had never met their Chief Executive and hardly ever saw senior managers from their previous provider. We have won a number of tenders over the years and almost without exception have found the same rather depressing picture of services that have been left to get on with it with very little senior manager support. I know I am a bit obsessive about senior manager visibility, but I do think it is important and it appears to be woefully lacking in our sector. I also think it is an issue in local government; a friend of mine, for example, works for a county council and tells me that front line staff never see senior managers who are always in meetings at county hall. Frankly if I can get down to Wales and go round services every 2 months, those managers should be able to visit services in a county that is 35 miles west to east and 30 miles south to north.
I think regulators should also be assessing organisations to see if they are ‘well-led’ not just individual services. I’m what’s known as the ‘responsible individual’ with our 3 regulators; CSSIW (the Welsh regulator), CQC and Ofsted and have been for many years. No one from any of those regulators ever checks up on me, asks how often I visit services, asks what systems I have put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people or whether I am keeping up to date with my professional development. I think that is wrong and I also think it is scandalous that no-one now inspects Local Authorities other than Ofsted inspecting children’s services.
On a more positive note, I am really looking forward to this Friday’s annual Service User Awards Ceremony which is always a great event. I will dedicate my blog next week to telling you about the winners and hopefully including some great photos.