As part of our commitment and desire to engage with ARC members, I had the pleasure of visiting Robert Owen Communities in Devon last week (who earned a CQC rating of outstanding at the beginning of the year) and spent an action packed day with them touring around their innovative services.FullSizeRender (1)

First stop was at ‘ROC Active’, within Paignton Leisure Centre. An embedded team of support workers, who are more like Personal Trainers really, support a number of service users to ‘get active’. It is a health and wellbeing focused program that engages on average 72 people with learning disabilities per week in gym, swim and sports. Gym goers supported by ROC, also access accreditations in many areas as the environment is geared to a learning experience, it’s not just about keeping fit. It’s also about good nutrition, healthy choices and being part of the community. Inclusion is truly at the heart of this service. The facilities there are great, the enthusiasm of the team almost tangible, especially from Personalisation Co-ordinator Bobby Singh. The whole thing was a breath of fresh air, a considered and different approach to day opportunities that benefited service users in so many ways.

We continued on our whistle-stop tour and visited ROC Point, ROC Aspect, ROC Creative Torbay, Laura House and Lower Sharpham Barton Farm. Again, fabulous to meet the staff and users of ROC’s services. The ROC Creative team was busily rehearsing at the local theatre for their show called ‘Flashpoint: The circle of change’, taking place in November, the costumes look amazing, again the focus clear and time spent productively. And the farm visit showcased how activities there built skills of people in animal care, metal work, woodwork and agriculture, all very empowering and useful to help people edge closer to the world of work.

My point is I think sometimes we can look at our sector and see only the challenges we face and can lose sight of the ‘good stuff’. There are so many providers who are looking to evolve and change their approaches away from traditional style services, support true personalisation and want to provide the best quality support possible. Surely something to celebrate, make sure you take a moment to ‘smell the roses’.

The sector continues to change in so many ways for so many reasons and ARC England are determined to be a positive force going forward. So where have I been lately… Recently, I have met with Sir Stephen Bubb, hit the road and met with new members in Yorkshire and London and I have today met with Skills for Care to give an update on a new project bid we have just won, funded by the Workforce Development Innovation Fund.

We are working with a user-led group of advocates with autism in Rotherham to support them to achieve a Level 3 in Education and Training Award whilst they train professionals and support workers at a school for 16-19 year old students with autism, specifically on understanding autism from their perspective.

Next we are focusing on our annual conference in Wolverhampton on 8th October, please join us, no doubt you will have seen our flyer. And as we move in to autumn, the grace period for providers to transition to fully implementing the Care Certificate comes to an end. We have our ‘Getting Started with the Care Certificate’ pack ready to be launched to support you, so contact us if you would like to know more.

If you would like to know more about ROC’s services please feel free to contact David Wilson, CEO or Therese Timberlake, Operations Director on 01803 868550.

Best wishes,
Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director

Picture, left to right- David Wilson (ROC, CEO), Lisa Lenton (ARC England Director), Therese Timberlake (ROC, Operations Director) and Andy Robinson (ROC, Personalisation Co-ordinator, Lower Sharpham Barton Farm).