Attitude, Attitude, Attitude Conference review

Image: Attitude, attitude, attitude conferenceAddressing both ARC members and non-members Chris Bull, Lead for the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme, opened our  busy Attitude, Attitude, Attitude Conference in Bristol on 3 October 2013.

The day was an opportunity to enable ARC members and stakeholders to to connect and liaise and learn from each other.  Our aim was to encourage people to think about what difference attitudes make in driving up the quality of learning disability services from three perspectives: Families, Providers and Commissioners.

Our Keynote speech

Following a welcome from Jacqueline Bell, Chief Executive of ARC, our keynote speaker Chris Bull began by sharing the lessons learned from the Winterbourne View Hospital:

  • The need for fast and lasting change from childhood, that prevents crisis situations in the first place
  • That people really get the care and support they want and need
  • That people and their families really have a say
  • The need to change attitudes and behaviour at all levels – Provider Board and Directors, senior management, the workforce, Commissioners and Regulators, and the wider community

And what’s being done so far…

  • Sharing what good looks like – a good review, good quality person-centred plan, good provision, most importantly good quality of life
  • Thinking about regional and local development and how can we let local areas know what they need to do, most importantly the Driving Up Quality Code
  • How we can all work better together to support future planning, the development of quality alternative provision.

Chris finished his session by taking questions from the audience.

Really Listening and Involving People

Round-1Following Chris Bull was the first round of presentations  – delivered enthusiastically by ARC Staff from across three of our nation countries, talking about projects and initiatives that are really involving people with learning disabilities.

  • Lynnette Linton, Vice Chair of the National Involvement Network (NIN) and James Fletcher, Director, ARC Scotland outlined the Charter for Involvement and the difference it has already made to the lives of at least 1750 people with a learning disability. The Charter has been heralded as a ‘catalyst of change’ by those organisations who have signed up to it, acting as a template for inclusion and encouraging people who use services to speak up for themselves and be involved in quality checking their services. The Charter is set to be updated and relaunched, thanks to funds from the Scottish Government, with the goal of involving yet more organisations and people.
  • Margaret Sharvin, TILII Co-ordinator, ARC NI – discussed how the work of the Telling It Like It Is (TILII) Groups has encouraged and trained people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland to embolden their outlooks and attitudes and speak up about the issues that matter most to them. An amusing and insightful video, featuring the groups involved, reinforced the difference TILII  has made to them as individuals – encouraging participants to share their stories on what people with a disability can do with the right support. Great Stuff.
  • Rod Landman, Safety Net Project Officer, ARC and Stephan Betteridge, then presented their talk on Mate Crime. Rod began by asking a ‘simple question with complicated answers’ – What is a friend?, exploring the connotations that may hold for a person with a learning disability, before recounting often harrowing stories of people falling victim to abuse perpetrated by people pretending to be their ‘friends’. Through initiatives such as the Safety Net Project, Helping Each Other and Safer Net Rod outlined the steps that have been taken to combat the abuse with the development of protocols, training, and a range of toolkits and resources to raise awareness and help keep people safe and informed. Building on this work was news that ARC’s two part Mate Crime Real Change Challenge for both Providers and Police had been published. Stephan drew the presentation to a close by relating how becoming a peer trainer; teaching people about Mate Crime and abuse, had resulted in discernible benefits for both learners (greater empathy, respect  and empowerment) and for himself as a trainer, helping to boost his esteem and confidence and employability – clearly evident in his assured, considered and amusing delivery.

Supporting Really Good Staff

Following a quick break and a chance to network business resumed with the second round of presentations focused on recruitment and initiatives to support staff to drive up quality in Learning Disability services.

  • Sarah Maguire, Director of Quality, Choice Support , wearing her “Driving up Quality Alliance hat” introduced the recently launched Driving Up Quality Code aimed at raising the quality of services for people with learning disabilities beyond a minimum standard. Drafted in response to the deplorable events at Winterbourne View, Sarah laid out the context for the code and the case for having a revived passion and a clarity in the sector about ‘what is right and what is wrong’. Later, in presenting the aims of the code (to develop a culture of openness and honesty in which providers could provide a high quality, values led service ), Sarah revisited the lessons that had been learned from its development – not least among them that support should be focussed on the needs of the person and not the needs of the service.  Central to it all was the core tenet that a person should be supported to have ‘an ordinary and meaningful life’. Learn more about the Driving Up Quality Code.
  • Maureen Hinds, Head of Programmes, National Skills Academy (NSA) – laid out a compelling case for the importance of good leadership, beginning with a perceptive quote from John Buchan – “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already”, followed by a summary of the challenges facing the sector, including, financial pressures, the push to raise the quality of services and the need to address public perception. In the context of a sector undergoing significant changes, not only in term of its size (the care sector supports 1.8m service users and has a workforce of 1.56m – equivalent to the size of the NHS) but also in its varied, fragmented nature the need for good leadership with strong skills and appropriate values and beliefs would seem to be ever more important, particularly if one believes as Maureen and the NSA does that, “good care begins with good leadership”.
  • Gwenne McFadzean, Facilitation Advisor, MacIntyre – The old adage ‘It ain’t what you do… it’s the way that you do it!’ appeared to ring true in this presentation by Gwenne McFadzean. Outlining the journey behind the development of MacIntyre’s recruitment tool Gwenne presented a fascinating insight into the reasoning and processing behind an initiative that has transformed the MacIntyre workforce, not only in terms of improved recruitment and lower turnover, but, most importantly, in better outcomes for the people they support.

Real Collaborative Commissioning

The final round of presentations were about developing a more positive attitude to collaborative working with commissioners, and working to develop channels of honest dialogue with providers and families.  

  • Kerry Blair, Development Director, Advance – laid out the case in favour of Social Investment Models and Social Impact Bonds by highlighting the overwhelming difference adopting such approaches had made to a particular service user’s support, outcomes and life.  By adopting creative approaches, increasing inclusion and developing a strategy towards working more collaboratively with families, staff and commissioners Kerry was able to demonstrate how one young lady’s behaviour and life had been transformed. Kerry also presented figures to highlight the availability of funding and opportunities for such work in the social care sector.
  • Ann Chivers, CEO, BILD – delivered a wonderfully simple but effective presentation by inviting delegates to define what they believed the culture of a workplace to be and how that translated to their own organisations. Central to the task were the questions of how were people working together and how were people with a learning disability involved and included? By introducing a short activity Ann was able to clearly demonstrate what it meant to be excluded and not be involved – to literally be on the outside. Rounding off a packed morning, Ann left the conference with a final thought before lunch – that by working together and being inclusive, ‘We can make a difference’.

Following lunch and a short AGM, there was an ‘ask the expert’ informal open space session.

During the session delegates were able to ask the individual speakers questions about their particular areas of expertise and work, seeking advice if necessary, whilst also contributing their own ideas and experiences to small, informal group discussions.




Feedback from the conference has been overwhelmingly positive – here’s just some of what our delegates thought worked well:

“The networking and buzz from people having great values and drive.”
“Positive speakers.”
“Relevant topics covered by excellent speakers.”
“ARC staff presenting with people with learning disabilities.”
“The various presentations.
“Great content.”
“Each topic could have had 20 minutes more presentation! Very worth attending.”


All the presentations from the day are available to download – Click here.

Thank you

ARC would like to thank all the speakers and delegates who contributed to making our Annual Conference 2013 an overwhelming success. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.