Oct 16

Sharon Allen shares her experience of visiting Community Integrated Care

Posted: 24 October 2016

Our CEO Sharon Allen shares her experience of visiting Community Integrated Care in the North West

In a recent joint blog with Peter Kinsey, CEO at CMG, I asked Peter for his tips on leadership. One of his top tips strongly resonated with me and that was about making the time to get out and spend time in the services you are responsible for. 

This was something I invested heavily in when I was CEO of a provider organisation and make time to do as a board member of a Housing Association providing care services. It also remains a crucial part of my role leading Skills for Care, to get out and spend time with employers and the workforce and most importantly citizens that our organisation is here to support. 

You can imagine how pleased I was to be invited by Community Integrated Care, via Twitter, to go to the North West and spend some time with them in Blackburn and Widnes so they could show me some of the great work they are doing.

The first service I saw was their brand new specialist care home for people living with dementia – EachStep Blackburn.  A big part of Community Integrated Care’s focus is on their community engagement and they have put huge effort into the development of this service which influenced the building design, and meant that they had huge numbers of applicants for jobs when they started recruiting.

The manager of the service, Phil Benson, is a nurse whose grandfather had dementia and sadly did not receive the quality of care he should have.  Phil decided to do something positive and moved into social care to bring his skills and values into providing high quality care which he is certainly doing.  Phil has been shortlisted at the National Care Awards and National Dementia Awards in the Best Manager categories and we wish him the very best of luck. 

Another part of their very effective community engagement is with Tauheedul Islam Girls’ School and Blackburn College, and it was great to meet some of these students who are doing work placements in the home.  A fab initiative to grow the workforce and leaders of tomorrow, it was really heartening to hear these young women who undertake work placement in EachStep talk about their desire and ambition to work in social care. 

The students advised that for EachStep to be an attractive option for people from the South Asian community, the home should have one floor designated as a women’s floor and this has been designed into the home.  They also took part in burying time capsules with a range of thoughtful contents for future residents to reflect on what was happening in 2016 when the capsules are brought out in 50 year’s time.

It was a genuine pleasure to go on to meet Zaffer and Abrar from One Voice which is a South Asian community organisation leading engagement across different cultural groups.  One Voice and Community Integrated Care have built a strong and cohesive relationship which is supporting development of culturally appropriate service provision and breaking down stereotypes about social care and the Asian community. 

This kind of culturally competent community capacity building is vital for our sector and now that we have been introduced, Skills for Care’s local team based in the North West is looking to develop a similarly constructive relationship with One Voice – so thanks very much for the intro.

Sharon Allen

The next morning we went to St Luke’s Care Home in Runcorn. St Luke’s is a specialist dementia care home, which has an incredible integrated partnership with NHS Halton CCG and Halton Borough Council.

The results of this partnership have been amazing – seeing a significant reduction on hospital admissions by people living with dementia and some fantastic outcomes. Last year, the home made the final in the Integration and New Models of Care category at Skills for Care’s annual Accolades and I can see why.  It was a genuine pleasure to meet Brenda who is one of our current cohort of Graduate Management Trainees and has so impressed the service that she has already been promoted to deputy manager.

Sharon Allen

The final part of my visit was to experience the brilliant partnership with Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club.  We went to join the Chemics Café, a monthly supporters group for people living with dementia in Halton. The event attracts many local care homes (including several that aren’t provided by Community Integrated Care), as well as family carers.

They spend time with legendary former players, enjoy great activities that promote wellbeing (like yoga, meditation or chair based exercise) and vital advice on living well with dementia.  Local people have generously donated all kinds of club memorabilia that is being used in the Chemics Café.  A lovely moment happened when the man I was sitting next to was shown a couple of photos by his wife and recognised that his father, who used to be a trainer at the club, was in the photos – a really happy event.  

At the end of this inspiring session I recorded a short video blog of my visit which Community Integrated Care has placed on their website.

We hear so much about what is wrong with social care and sadly there is still too much that is poor and yet there is so much fantastic work going on led by people who are creative and totally committed to the highest quality care.

The challenge for Skills for Care is how do we share this great practice and support all providers to achieve the same high standards.  Community Integrated Care is one of many organisations who use and promote Skills for Care’s resources and support.  We know what good looks like and it is through collaborative working that we can ensure this is what everyone in our communities will experience.