Moving the Goalposts

We were very pleased to attend the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) event in Manchester last week.  For us, it’s a slightly different event because usually at events our main audience is parents whereas at the NAS Conference the main audience are clinicians, other providers and associations.

We do this conference because it’s an ideal opportunity to talk to others in our industry and to get a better understanding of what’s going on and hear the real issues other providers and organisations are facing on a day to day basis. 

Normally at these events we find there is a particular highlight.  In this instance we found ourselves next to Mark Bowes, the Local Authority Liaison Officer for The Witherslack Group . This group have 8 exceptional schools and 5 children’s homes in the North West, supporting individuals with complex behavioural needs, often for 52 weeks of the year.

Unlike schools and colleges who are regulated by Ofsted, as adult residential care, Home From Home Care is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  Whilst what they ask for in terms of information to comply to regulatory factors is important, it nevertheless only tells part of the story in terms of the success of somebody’s placement.  We don’t believe this is good enough, so we are working towards is creating other ways,  particularly outcome-based performance measurement to assess what we do to ‘fill in’ the other part of the story.

What made meeting Mark so interesting is that the Witherslack Group has invested very heavily in systems which do just that for students in schools.  They go way beyond Ofsted type requirements by using outcome based measurement to assess the success of their students’ placements and their progress over time.  The system is up and running and being used on a daily basis.

It is very interesting to see how The Witherslack Group in Children’s Services, and us in Adult Services are striving to be pioneers of moving the goal posts forward.  We both have a more practical understanding of the issues that are involved than necessarily the regulators do, and we believe that by creating these other ways of measurement we do actually hold a key for the future or a way forward.

I think the common denominator between our organisations is that we are both very committed to being professional and to doing better, and not just trying to make money out of care.  And that’s  the balance; it’s about putting the people that we all support first and then getting that commercial balance right and in doing so we are actually creating a better business.

The other highlight was of course, eating at Yang Sing  – the best and most authentic Chinese Restaurant in the country by our estimations.  According to reports, David Cameron eats there during the Conservative Party Conference.  On enquiries our waiters didn’t seem to know anything about his visits.  I suppose if you are the best in the country, politics simply doesn’t matter!



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