I visited 17 services last week, including a number in Sutton. I was particularly pleased going round the Sutton services to be reminded how many of the managers there are home grown. I am always delighted when we promote internally and we have some fantastic managers who have worked their way up from being support workers at CMG. When I talk to new staff on their induction, I say to them that they should look at working for CMG as a career not just a job. Whilst I was in Sutton, I did unfortunately encounter a “weed of the week winner” it’s Albion Road which has some real whoppers, but I am assured that our gardening team from The Green in Sutton will sort them out. They are a team of people we support who are paid gardeners.
You may wonder why I obsessively visit at least 10 services every week. I am not aware of any other Chief Executive in the sector who visits services as frequently or regularly as I do. I have two reasons for doing it: firstly, I think it is a really important part of the role of a Chief Executive to motivate and inspire their staff. It is very difficult to motivate people when they have never met you, don’t know what you look like and in some cases don’t even know your name. Secondly, I am very aware that the quality of services can go up and down and it is really important to keep a close eye on them. That’s why CMG hasn’t expanded into the North of England and Scotland. I like the fact that I can get to any CMG service in three hours from our head office in Leatherhead, usually in less than that.
On a different note, I would like to talk about people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. We support a considerable number of people who can be described in this way and generally I think we do it very well. Our Clinical Team has a great deal of expertise and provide invaluable support to our services working with this client group. It does concern me that they get very little attention. In the world of challenging behaviour, there is endless discussion about positive behaviour support (PBS) and there seem to be networks and groups all over the place talking about good practice. That doesn’t seem to happen with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. I was on the national steering group recently developing training standards for staff; there were lots of references to challenging behaviour, but until I pointed it out, no one had thought about people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. I would particularly like to congratulate Michael Fullerton, our Clinical Director, on the work he is doing to promote awareness of the needs of this group and to share best practice nationally. There is a very good publication called PMLD Link and Michael has written a very good article in it. I would encourage you to read it. If you are having difficulty getting hold of a copy, please let Michael or I know.
Finally, I would just like to remind everybody that Learning Disability England will be launching next month. This is an extremely important moment for our sector. Learning Disability England, which is evolving out of the Housing and Support Alliance and People First England, will be a new organisation with families, people we support and providers as equal partners shaping policy and campaigning on behalf of people with learning disabilities. It will be a membership organisation and we will be encouraging people we support and staff to join and play an active role. I am on the Board of the Housing and Support Alliance and I am involved in planning the establishment of Learning Disability England. I will keep you informed about progress.