Can I start with a big thank you to everyone who read my first blog and for all of your comments, likes, shares and retweets on social media. (I’ll get the hang of this digital malarkey yet!)
Over the past two weeks, it’s been really good to have had the opportunity to meet with some of our new colleagues from Cumbria who will be joining us from 1 October. During my recent visits to Carlisle, Penrith, Whitehaven and Workington, it’s been very clear to see the commitment and passion of staff and I was especially interested in hearing about the things staff were most proud of. Together, I am confident that we can deliver on our shared objective of providing the best possible services for those who need our help.
I’m sure many of you will have seen the focus around learning disability services there has been in the media over the last few weeks. For those of you who watched the BBC Panorama Programme about how badly people with a learning disability and/or autism were treated in an independent sector hospital in the North, I am sure, like me, that you will have been horrified at what you saw. The programme had a disturbing and profound impact on me personally, as I am sure it did on you too. I have spent some time visiting some of our own services for people with a learning disability to offer my support and reassurance that I have every confidence in the great job staff are doing. But also to talk and listen with staff about how they’d been emotionally affected.
We have been working with other NHS and local authority partners to enable the safe transfer of people from the unit into alternative NHS hospitals and to prepare services in the community. If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues raised in the programme, the BBC has provided some information which signposts to organisations who may be able to help https://bbc.in/2HzlbG8
Learning disability will be featured in the media this week but for a much more positive reason. Learning disability week is taking place from 17 to 23 June and the theme this year is about sport and inclusion. And although I confess I’m no ambassador for fitness (!), we can all play our part in raising awareness as we know that there are great benefits in terms of improving our health and our wellbeing through sport and other physical activities The charity Mencap are encouraging as many people as possible, with and without a learning disability, to get involved in inclusive sporting activities in their community. You can find out more about the week by using the hashtags #HereIAm and #LDWeek19.
On 6 June I paid a visit to the SIB team; SIB stands for Social Impact Bond and is one of seven government pilot schemes running across the country to try and address the issue of homelessness. Specialist Nurse Rebecca Wilson explained that the team engage and support people who are either long term rough sleeping or stuck within the hostel accommodation system with the aim to help people leave the streets or hostel system permanently and engage with relevant services, such as mental health, employment or where relevant addiction services. The team works across Newcastle and Gateshead and we are delighted that Rebecca’s post has been funded for two years by Newcastle City Council.
Rebecca introduced me to a gentleman who was alcohol and drug dependent but has made huge progress after being supported by the team. Schemes such as this one can make such a difference in supporting a person to help them get their life back on track. The team use a strength based approach, looking to meet basic needs first and use formulation (5Ps) to help them better understand each person and find creative ways to support a way forward. Rebecca explained that the learning from the team is being used by commissioners when thinking about future services as they have recognised the model works with multi-partnership working.
Thank you for taking the time to catch up with what I’ve been up to recently, and as ever, if there is anything in particular you’d like to ask me please let me know via firstname.lastname@example.org