Involving Service Users
Newton Stewart Activity and Resource Centre is for people who have learning, physical disabilities and illness, hearing or visual impairment, acquired brain injury and stress/distressed behaviour. The centre offers a wide range of activities, including a recording studio, and service users run the ‘Merrick Café’ for two days a week at the Merrick Sports Centre.
The centre involves service users through use of a variety of communication methods. These range from a manager’s blog and newsletter, to a ‘talking wall’ with messages from staff or a ‘post-it’ wall for new ideas from service users, and a members involvement team run by service users themselves.
The manager, Beth Bleasdale, emphasises that “the service users are absolutely at the heart of everything that we do, and they are very much involved in leading the service that’s offered here” and her manager’s blog, ‘Beth’s Blog’ puts up the “week’s news to let people know what’s happening, either on a particular day or that week. We also put up the newsletter and as much of the newsletter as possible is done with graphics to make it accessible for people.”
Ensuring that everyone knows who to talk to or suggest ideas to, can be a big part of keeping communication open and the Care Inspectorate inspector, Eleanor Higney, comments that “When you come in the front door, as well as saying ‘this is the person in charge from a staff point of view’, they’ve got ‘this is the person from the committee that’s here today.’ So again, if the members have got any issues or concerns or ideas then they’ve got a point of contact. Their picture, and their information, everything’s got an equal amount – whether it’s a staff member or whether it’s an actual member that uses the service.” As she concludes, this attitude comes through in everything as “it’s that real equal feeling of who’s running the show.”
The assistant manager, Paula Davies, further explains some of their communication methods to practically involve and inform service users, as all the staff photos on the ‘talking wall’ are made more accessible through the use of ‘talking spots’. The staff record messages so that service users know what staff are in the building and they can also press messages from staff to find out what’s happening, what activities, what staff are leading on what areas, and basically find out what’s happening. It’s really good for some people that have difficulty reading text, they can press the button and hear what’s going on.”
Paula also explains the work of their ‘Members Improving Services Team’ which looks at “how the service runs and how they can develop that and how they can be involved.” The team meets once a week to discuss different areas and how they can get involved in the community. Run by service users, who fill all the roles such as treasurer or secretary to chairperson, the team looks at “a lot of issues that they face and basically in terms of service development, looking at what we’ve got and how we can make it better and how we go about doing that.”
By involving users in the service, and encouraging different methods of communication for informing individuals or soliciting ideas, the Newton Stewart Activity and Resource Centre is innovating and improving the service they provide.
We publish regular inspection reports for all care services - and grades can go up and down depending on what we see. The effective practice we see here should always be read in conjunction with the latest inspection report.
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