View From the Chair Q1 2020
Welcome to the latest issue of View from the Chair. It has been some time since our last issue.
As we are establishing more ways of communicating with you; through social media, such as Facebook and twitter, and our new newsletter ‘WE Matter’ this has enabled us to update you far more frequently. Therefore, we have reduced this update to four times per year, in line with our Performance Reporting schedule.
Our last issue in April came to you at the beginning of the UK lockdown, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. I have never seen or experienced anything like this during my career.
Whilst it has been an incredibly difficult period, I hope you have found the response from WE, in such difficult circumstances as best as you could have expected.
The Board would like to recognise our Operations Change Manager, Karen Smith and her team, for the redesign of the service and the significant efforts made over the last couple of months to enable our service as COVID-19 safe as we possibly could. This has been a massive achievement and we are truly grateful for all the hard work, commitment, and dedication, throughout the lockdown and beyond.
During the lockdown we were able to provide an outreach support programme involving telephone/video call engagement, and limited home activity visits to people we support out in the community in line with Government recommendations.
For those in most need, we had a limited number of people we support based at two of our locations.
Our staff ensured that communication was continued with the people we support and their families, with regular welfare calls and contact to help reduce the isolation of lockdown.
During lockdown, our staff made approximately 450 welfare calls a week and I am pleased we received positive feedback for this work. This ongoing contact/support also provided a valuable link to Adult Social Care in terms of monitoring people out in the community.
We also extended and increased our working partnerships with other service providers in an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach to support those in most need across the Wirral during these unprecedented times. These combined efforts have been well received.
We have increased our use of technology to assist us in reaching out to the people we support and their families/carers. We introduced private Facebook groups to enable us to directly contact our community, as well as enabling people to keep in touch with one another. Some of our locations and groups have also utilised video calling/technology to keep in touch with each other.
In August, we were finally able to begin a phased re-opening of our locations operating our services in two groups who are attending on alternate weeks due to social distancing protocols.
Karen Smith and her team ensured that we had a robust plan to begin the reopening with clear and strict criteria presented to and approved by the Board for each location. All these plans adhered to strict Government guidelines with location risk assessments and clear action to complete before the centres could be classed as COVID-19 safe and secure to enable the people we support to return.
All our locations are adhering to national and local guidelines as well as our own criteria for safety including social distancing measures, strict cleaning protocol, and wearing of PPE. Our staff have been given access to ongoing testing and have each received extra risk assessments if they are in a higher risk group.
Our Corporate Services in Wallasey have reopened, with a mixture of staff working at the location and remote working. As with our other locations, this building is not yet open to the public, and people will only be able to visit by appointment only.
Annual Report 2019-2020
We are pleased to share our Annual Report 2019-2020. Our report reflects and celebrates the achievements we have made whilst acknowledging the challenges we have faced. It also takes the opportunity to look to the future and the improvements we want to continue to make in 2020-2021. We have shared this report with our key stakeholders and hope they recognise the significant progress we have made, and we are working on an Easy Read version, to publish shortly.
We are now in a very different place than before the pandemic when we submitted our Annual Plan. As a result, we have already seen some impact and delay to some of our key priorities and as we settle into this new way of working, Jean and the Strategic Leadership Team will focus on what we can realistically deliver for the remainder of this year, this will come back to Board for discussion and approval.
I am really pleased with the strong foundations we have put in place across the company in 2019-2020, our short-term plan is now to embed these frameworks and changes throughout the company.
WE Groups and Sub-Committees
Lorraine Moran (Head of Quality) reported to the Board that we have been able to continue our Speak Up Be Heard group meetings via Zoom. The continuing of these meetings has been met with lots of enthusiasm from the people we support.
We have also agreed to review how we engage with our Wider Stakeholder Group. Although this work has been delayed due to the Pandemic, we will be able update you in due course with its developments.
Company Performance and Governance
Throughout the pandemic, our Board meetings have continued monthly via Microsoft Teams. This has enabled us to oversee and continue to make progress and understand how the company is performing against our Performance Framework.
We continue to develop our Performance Scorecard 2020/2021, and we now have more than 12 months of data and information enabling us to set a solid benchmark to measure against. We also have a clear view of the COVID-19 impact against our initial planning, reflecting the challenging times we are in.
Policies and Procedures
We have made significant progress in reviewing and updating our Policies and Procedures, bringing them up to date and simplifying them, next we need to embed them.
It is important for all of us to continue to develop and reflect on our collective strengths, as such the Board and SLT have commenced our Board Development Plan. We have benefited from excellent facilitation from Helen Evans from Wirral Council HR, using the framework - Facet 5. This development will enable us to continue to improve and to close any gaps the Board may have.
I hope this update is useful for you, keep safe…
Mike Naden – Chair of the Board
25 September 2020