I visited 10 services last week and was particularly pleased when I visited Ty Nant, a supported living service for people with a diagnosis of autism in Newport, where we won a tender recently and took over the service, to hear from the staff how positive they were about CMG and how impressed they’ve been by our professionalism. They still had a few anxieties about the change which we are going to address at their induction this week. We have learned when taking over services that staff imagine we are going to do all sorts of dreadful things to them and the rumour mill starts. We have found it very helpful to have a ‘rumour busting’ session at the start of each induction, to get all the rumours out on the table and then put them to bed.
I was also very impressed when I visited our Chetwynd Road service in Portsmouth where there was a great deal of activity promoting social inclusion. This includes a young man who has been supported to have a voluntary job at the local library he really enjoys. They are also actively involving people in a whole range of sports activities.
On a less positive note, I attended a safeguarding meeting where the parents of a young man we support were very concerned that they visited his home and found that he didn’t have a member of staff supporting him. Their son is allocated a 1:1 staff member at all times and a second staff member to enable him to access the community. The young man was asleep and the member of staff had only left him for a minute to go and get a colleague to help her, but it was still not acceptable for this to happen. We have a Safeguarding Board at CMG with an independent Chair, Roy Taylor, CBE, former Director of Kingston Social Services. At our Safeguarding Board, we review every case, to ensure each one is being managed appropriately and to identify any lessons to be learnt. We discussed this particular case last week and have issued guidance to staff across the organisation that they should never leave a person we support unsupervised if they are allocated 1:1 staffing.
Another challenge we are facing is recruiting good registered managers and middle managers for our domiciliary care division. It does appear to be particularly difficult to recruit high performing managers in this sector. We started an active recruitment drive last week and if anybody knows any good managers in the domiciliary care sector, please point them in our direction.
We found out last week that we were unsuccessful in a tender that we recently submitted. Having won three recently, it is to be expected that we will have some failures. However, we did think some of the marking was rather harsh. When we reviewed our answers, with similar content, against answers that we had used in a successful tender in an adjacent authority, we found that we had been given lower scores. As I’ve said before in previous blogs, this does highlight to me that the whole tender process is something of a game, which tests your essay writing skills and your ability to tick boxes, rather than your ability to actually deliver good quality services.