As we go into 2021, we want to honour the lives lost, but also celebrate the heroism, determination, and resilience our sector has demonstrated time and time again.
Alongside the basic challenges of staff recruitment, there have been significant changes in working practices driven by legislation, regulation updates, and social distancing requirements. There have been substantially increased workloads, mainly through increased cleaning regimes and loss of formal and informal support. There have also been changes to core working practices such as assessment and support, which are increasingly being delivered through a remote platform. In addition, there has been rapid recruitment requirements, new challenges in maintaining staff wellbeing and managing safety and safeguarding, all of which have impacted on workforce development requirements.
This led to a considerable rise in the demand for our services, which we had to match with the rapid development of a new digital infrastructure to enable us to offer programmes online. During this time, we have worked extensively across the sector, with a very broad range of stakeholders. At first we were reluctant to make the change from face to face to online, and like many others in our sector, it felt a huge struggle to meet the demands of day to day whilst undergoing vast transformation. We watched in horror when many of the support services we trained were left to deal with challenging, complex situations without adequate support and equipment. We heard many stories of the personal challenges people faced balancing the need to protect their family, with protecting their community. Their stories motivating and inspiring.
Despite these challenges in 2020, our service reached and trained over seven thousand staff and volunteers and delivered over 600 programmes. However, we were not able to reach all services in our community, or at times, have the impact we aspire to. Many services experienced digital poverty and struggled with the skills to access online learning. Others struggled to understand the etiquette for online learning, leading to poor commitment and engagement. Some struggled with such huge workloads that it was impossible to undertake skills development.
It has been a huge learning curve for us, but some of the triumphs are that we are now able to reach more people, be more creative in our learning design and offer a more flexible and accessible service. In addition, we are now able to benefit from the power on many voices, access more experts by experience, made possible by the collaboratively power of technology. We have also been able to learn from and support situated practice, through better accessibility. We have been driven far more by learners dictating their own learning needs, rather than taking a top-down approach. All of this has meant that we have a far greater impact in our work.
In this period of rapid growth, we have welcomed many new team members to our team and have immersed ourselves in learning, development, and reflection during this period. Through this process has emerged a whole set of new programmes including our higher apprenticeships which are designed for service improvement.
During the year we gathered large sets of data so we could compare performance, pre and post pandemic. The outcomes are welcome and show that moving forward, the way is truly blended.
During this period, we have continued to gather impact data on our programmes and are already starting to see some excellent results. For example, from our Advanced Care Planning programmes some of the impacts we have seen include:
- Being able to provide appropriate and timely advice to individuals and families about legal provisions related to advance care planning
- Being able to carry out timely conversations in advance care planning
Or in our Safeguarding Enquiry Officer Programmes, some of the impacts we have seen.
- Being able to support the process of MSP, particularly in complex cases
- Being able to develop productive relationships with adults, (and others) to produce multi agency safeguarding protection plans.
- Being able to confidently apply the legislation and policy that underpins adult safeguarding.
Our Social Enterprise structure has enabled us not only to survive, but thrive during this time, and has reaffirmed for us that we must adopt different approaches in our sector that consider the collective, not just the individual.
It is with great gratitude to those individuals and organisations that have been on this journey with us through this time.Follow Us