“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead”  – Gene Fowler

That is how I felt as I stared at the blank screen of my iPad!! A “blog” what is that!! I am too old to learn about these new-fangled methods of communicating!!  I like to talk to people – how spooky is that in this digital world? I have been in the Care Sector for over 30 years and I have experienced, both professionally and personally, the highs and lows that we all face every day.

This Blog could be a “low” but I hope you will find it at least a “medium” . I am the Local Integration Lead for Perth and Kinross; not sure my mother would appreciate me being called a “LiL” as is the affectionate term for us all.  As in every Partnership area we are striving to meet the challenge of supporting the Independent Sector in a period of change and continual pressure on resources. Despite these everyday issues there are still examples of good practice and successful initiatives that we can share.

P&K were successful in being selected to take part in the National Pressure Ulcer Project whose aim was to reduce pressure Ulcers in care homes by 50%. A pilot group of five care homes participated in the programme to test and evaluate documentation and processes that had been put in place initially. Valuable lessons were learnt in P&K and elsewhere during this pilot project. A celebration event in P&K was held in January where the care homes that had participated were asked to present their learning and experiences and share them with the wider care home group.

With the associated learning, such as the newly introduced pocket guide, the Pressure Ulcer Project is now being rolled out in care homes throughout P&K. The pocket guide, which came as a direct result of an idea from a care home in P&K has now been adopted nationally.

A new initiative in P&K is to support the Care Sector in the recruitment of Care at Home staff. We have always known that the recruitment and retention of staff is one of the Care Sectors’ major challenges. How do we demonstrate that the Sector can provide worthwhile training and a fulfilling career?  We have recognised for many years that there is a high turnover of staff generally. Our challenge is to start replacing their knowledge and experience now. The joint initiative between the Local Authority and Care at Home Providers sets out to utilise the Modern Apprenticeship scheme in a way that benefits both the individuals and the sector. The Council will effectively be the managing agent and the staff will be seconded to the Care at Home service for a period of 18 months. During this time, they will undertake the SVQ Level 2 qualification and gain valuable practical experience, At the end of the 18 month programme the Apprentices will be offered a permanent position with the Care at Home Service. I am delighted to report that five Providers have signed up to the scheme.

Every now and again despite the challenges we all face attending endless meetings and discussions, and we have all been there!!  My faith in the sector was restored recently, in terms of reinforcing why I feel so passionately about delivering excellent care. I sat in Perth Concert hall not listening to Andre Rieu, although that would be good as well, but at a conference organised by the Life Changes Trust listening to four enthralling individual stories of the demands and commitment faced by unpaid family carers. They all had different life histories, but the common thread was their wish to ensure their loved ones had the best support through the most difficult period of their lives. They talked about the basic day to day challenges they had to overcome and despite this they maintained a focus and commitment to continue supporting their loved ones.

It isn’t always about policies and procedures at the end of the day, it is about dealing with people in a caring and dignified manner. This was outlined brilliantly by Donald Macaskill in his opening address.

We must always ask the question: “Are we delivering the care and services that people actually want!” 

 Mother Teresa said:

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” 

Perhaps we should remember that unpaid carers can feel alone and unloved and how we interact with them as individuals and organisations can have a huge impact on their wellbeing.

 

Bernie Campbell