Ghosts and ghouls, trick or treat and carved pumpkins. I’d forgotten how much British people love Halloween after being away from it all for so long. I have the ‘pleasure’ of carving my own pumpkin tomorrow night actually – now that in itself is a scary prospect, my knife skills aren’t, shall we say, the best.

Thinking about this time of year, the nights drawing in, Bonfire night approaching and Mr. Claus getting his elves working hard ready for you know what, has made me reflect on the year so far.

Then I realised I became ARC England Director 6 months ago, 6 months gone in what seems a blink of an eye. So much to celebrate and challenges to continue to rise to going forward.

So highlights, they are in abundance. I think getting out and about and meeting our members has been the favourite part of my Directorship so far. To see what good work, some outstanding, is going on in services and sharing my vision for ARC England really gets me enthused and energised. Together we are strong and influential. Don’t misunderstand me, the road is a rocky one and the hard work will continue.

It is great to see our membership base growing. We have had 12 new members in the past few months with a few more on the horizon. I have been looking at the organisations who are ARC England members and I see we are very unique in our make up. We have providers of various sizes, from the voluntary and independent sector offering services to people with a learning disability in various provisions. We have such strength in our diversity. I am proud to say that ARC England is perfectly positioned to continue to feed in to consultations, collaborate with our members and sector stakeholders and truly foster that sense of being part of the ARC community. Thank you to our members who continue to support us to support them.

So what else in the last 6 months? Well, I’ve had the honour of chairing 3 events so far with another 3 on the horizon over the next 5 weeks relating to the National Living Wage and market positioning. We have strengthened relationships with CQC, TLAP, NICE, and have been collaborating with other umbrella organisations on the important issues we are facing to support you, our members, and to maximise our impact. We have also surveyed our members to help steer and inform our business planning.

We have put together a fabulous team of training associates to offer training to every corner of England and have been developing new ideas for workshops including a ‘Self-harm and people with learning disabilities’ workshop which has now been delivered twice to Robert Owen Communities. We are looking at further roll out. And I would like to acknowledge the small but perfectly formed ARC England team, who continue to work hard each and every day!

I had the opportunity to attend the CQC’s State of Care launch on 15th October in Westminster, an early start but it was such an interesting morning. David Behan, candidly went through the summary of the report. It was acknowledged that “the adult social care sector is under pressure and there are issues around the sustainability of provision, due to the increasing complexity of people’s care needs, significant cuts to local authority budgets, increasing costs, high vacancy rates and pressure from local commissioner to keep fees as low as possible.” And “despite this pressure, inspections to 31 May 2015 show that almost 60% of services were providing good or outstanding care”. The sector is challenged on many levels but let’s not overlook the ‘good stuff’.

There was one comment that has really stuck with me though in the absence of a wealth of funding; “collaborative working will drive improvements in the provision of care”. I believe this 100% and I look forward to collaborating with our sector colleagues, stakeholders and members to create a better sector.

Here’s to the next 6 months!

If you would like to know more about becoming an ARC England member don’t hesitate to drop me a line or give me a call. Lisa.lenton@arcuk.org.uk or 01246 555043.