Time for reflections and celebrations!

I am sure the older I get, the quicker time flies by! We are only a few shopping days away from the big day now; I seriously cannot believe we are nearing the end of the year! And so here is the last edition of Real People in 2016.

And what a year – not only for us here at ARC England but also for the Adult Social Care sector as a whole in one way or another and in fact the whole of the U.K.

Let’s start with Brexit – the biggest upset since Leicester won the Premiership! We are told Article 50 is to be invoked (allegedly) in March next year which will clearly open up Pandora’s box for us, but let’s just get on with it. In respect of the impact on us, we are keen to ensure that Health and Social Care doesn’t ‘come a cropper’ due to losing vital workers, at every level in the sector, from the European Economic Area (EEA). That is why ARC England is a member of the Cavendish Coalition; a coalition whose purpose is to work towards improving domestic access to training and employment, to provide certainty to EU citizens currently working in health and social care, and look at how to ensure longer-term access to global recruitment on a needs basis. I hear time and time again that recruitment and retention is such a problem for our members, so let’s ensure we don’t make it worse by forcing EU nationals to leave and conversely look at what we can do to raise the profile of the social care sector as a career choice. As always we will keep you in the loop with progress.

Next up is the burning issue of funding. As you will have heard the Government has given Local Authorities the power to increase the precept to 6% over the next two years. It’s a start (and we are grateful, honest!) but it’s not a long-term solution. I am keen to see how these ring-fenced funds will be put to use and the trail to account for them too. On top of this the Government has also committed an additional £240m grant next year, which is very welcome, but again it’s not enough to secure the sustainability of the sector. The view needs to be much more long sighted. Another challenge has been the ‘sleep-in’ issue and I hope that with the New Year comes some clarification of the law and with it some protection for providers. It has certainly been an area of focus and work for us over the past 12 months and will continue to be going forward.

Well, what else has been going on? For us at ARC England there has been lots – here are a few highlights. Firstly, we have held regional meetings across England on various themes – CQC, National Living Wage and mock employment tribunals. This has been a fabulous way of linking in with our members and feedback has been positive in terms of the value they add. We wanted to reach out to our members in a practical and relevant way and become more accessible geographically – and we are certainly getting there.

We have also enhanced our training offer by creating a more diverse suite of short courses and these have proved very popular. Most recently we have launched our MCA and DoLS Train the Trainer workshops, with places being snapped up! Active Support training, designed to empower people with learning disabilities to create an ‘ordinary life’, has been in demand so much over the last year too, which is so encouraging to see. We even have completed some training in this over in Denmark! And of course, we have continued to work with other stakeholders and alliances to lobby on those pressing issues too (a couple mentioned above). There is never a dull moment!

Lastly, we have finally moved office; only next door but at least now we have an appropriate space for our small but perfectly formed team.

Looking forward in to the New Year we have started to arrange our next round of Regional events, the focus this time is on Learning and Development. Following that, I think we will link in again with Flint Bishops Solicitors to organise a raft of mock grievance hearings, as the mock employment tribunal sessions were so well received.

Before I wish you all a Merry Christmas I would like to offer thanks to a couple of key partners this year who have supported us and our members – Rob and Emma Tice from Flint Bishop Solicitors LLP and Matt Wort from Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP. I would also like to thank all our members for your continued and valuable support – it means so very much and allows us to work hard to address the issues that affect providers and ultimately the people they support.

And lastly, there is no denying the mood in the sector is low at the moment. There are lots of depressing facts and figures around but let’s just take a minute to reflect on the positives. Let’s finish on a high, it is Christmas after all. Our sector is the most person-centric, it’s the most intrinsically rewarding and it makes such an impact on the quality of life of others. How magical is that?! I doubt you get that buzz anywhere else! So well done to everyone who works so hard and contributes to this amazing sector, it wouldn’t happen without you!

All that is left to say is the ARC England team and I wish you a peaceful and joyful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Festive wishes,

Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director