Deputy Chief Executive
Services keep on going rain, snow, or pandemic!
Our adult Housing Support and Care at Home services are a crucial part of The Action Group, and what a year they have had. Always there as best they can be for every supported person, every day, in every part of Edinburgh and the Lothians.
There have been many positives over the past year. One of the most notable is how the service continued to support people through the recovery phase of the pandemic. Our amazing staff went above and beyond to ensure that people were safe and well, providing support so that people were empowered to live their lives as independently as possible. While also making sure people had great lives, had fun, and achieved their personal goals. It was so good to see people enjoying their favourite activities including day trips and holidays again. We all took our lives for granted before the pandemic and having restrictions for such a long time made it so much sweeter for everyone, to start to get their lives back to what they were before. Vaccinations and ongoing risk assessments helped to keep everyone safe too!
If that was not enough, everyone also worked together to continue to innovate and improve, especially when there were staffing shortages, which affected all of social care and beyond. Digital skills and connections; increased group activity support; Live-in support workers; Try Something New activities; HearMe counselling etc really decreased isolation with more people getting the support they wanted. All of this was achieved together with the people we support and their carers, by listening to everyone’s ideas and including everyone in decision making. The Action Group is always stronger and better when we all work together.
Another great positive is how our Have Your Say groups attracted more people, supported them to be more informed about their rights, were involved in campaigns, and had their voices heard.
We also reviewed the training programmes for staff, ensuring that they have a Good Start, the right skills, including digital skills, and all the knowledge they need to provide the best possible support to people. Learning and development courses are more bite sized and accessible through our Learning Management System too.
Despite the many positives, we have also faced several challenges over the past year. One of the biggest challenges has been the ongoing shortage of staff. This made delivering services really challenging, and we are sorry when we have had to change support or let people down. However, this meant we focused even more resources into recruitment (Instant interviews; more efficient recruitment systems; increased adverts and job fairs etc) and this has started to make a difference. We also started using agency workers to help support people and we are grateful to those workers for their efforts alongside our casual workers and staff who have also gone the extra mile and worked extra when needed.
Another challenge is the Care Inspectorate scoring us lower in some of our inspections, without any recognition of the massive challenges we have been facing and the extra pressure of the pandemic and the social care recruitment crisis etc. We are committed to increasing our grades as part of our recovery and Getting it Right workstreams.
Overall, the adult housing support and care Services at The Action Group have a had a challenging but successful year. This has been reflected in the narrative of the Care Inspectorate reports, and many of our scores, and feedback from people who have used the services.
We will continue working on improving our services and “Getting it Right” for everyone involved in the services. We want to base our improvement around our wellbeing goals; thrive, relationships and belonging, Involvement and Leadership at every level.