Chris manages our Kelvin Grove service in Bedford, one of a number of our residential services to be rated Good by the Care Quality Commission this year.

“The most important thing that I use to measure the success of my service is how happy the people who live here are with the support they receive.

One of my main priorities is to make sure that we give people as much control over their own lives as possible and tailor the support we offer to meet their needs. We ask people what their current needs are and what they would like to achieve. People may tell us that they want to manage without medication, work towards cooking their own meals or manage their money. We work with the person to write a support plan outlining the steps they will take – with our support – to get there.

As the Manager of the service, I meet with every person we support every six weeks. I ask them how things are going, whether they have any concerns, what progress they would like to make and what they think about our service. There might be things they want to change about their support, or they may want to review their medication or revisit their goals. This enables me to recognise early on if something isn’t right and take steps to remedy this. Talking to the people we support is the ultimate barometer of how well we are doing.

Talking to the people we support is the ultimate barometer of how well we are doing

I also ask for input into how we run the service, for example via fortnightly resident meetings, satisfaction questionnaires and regular discussions. 

One thing I always make sure of is that we remind people that goals can be fun. It can be very easy to get bogged down or overwhelmed by things that seem necessary like budgeting and finding a place to live, so I always make sure that people include goals about things they really enjoy. For example some residents have joined community groups, volunteered in local shops, joined a gym or gone on holiday.  

As a Manager, I get great support from Together. There are lots of practical tools available to help me do my job, and training to make sure I am up to date with the latest developments. Senior Managers also visit the project to see how we are doing, talk to service users and give feedback. It really helps to have a clear sense of what we are all achieving together as an organisation and there is a real focus on continuous improvement. I also learn a lot from other Managers at Together – they are a great bunch of people and we all run ideas around and bounce them off one another.

We remind people that goals can be fun

This year, we had even more evidence that what we are doing is working. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave us a ‘Good’ rating, and we had positive results from an audit carried out by the Local Authority. Also, an independent evaluation that we had taken part in found that support from Progression Together services results in people leading healthier lifestyles and moving on to live independently, as well as significantly improving their wellbeing. And finally, Together asked everyone using our accommodation based support for their views, and 91% of those that responded said we support them to make choices about the important things in their life. So in many ways, I am really proud of the service and how it is run.

The CQC report really was the cherry on the cake for us this year. The inspector made a point of saying how impressed he was to see that the people living here have hope for the future, as this is too often not the case in services being inspected. The whole team was so happy to know we are helping people have hope in their lives and look to the future.

It is really important to me that we are running an effective service every single day of the year. Good ratings and positive evaluation results are only achievable when the reality is that we are supporting people to lead the lives they want to lead day in day out.