The Good Support Group
Owned by a London local authority, The Good Support Group (TGSG) had operated as an independent company since 2017. It has delivered its Dementia and Older Peoples Day Care Services, Adult Learning Disability Day Care Services and Children’s Learning Disability Residential Services as a wholly owned private company.
Following a safeguarding incident in 2019 the children services registration was suspended and although its Adult services were allowed to continue, the referrals to it were also put on hold. An interim Managing Director, Mr. Ken Mackness, was appointed to analyse the organisations position and move it forward, ensuring that the organisations customers were still able to receive a crucial service in their lives.
The Good Support Group delivers their adult services at two centres. Mariner Road Day Centre and Chargable Lane Resource Centre based in London.
In the wake of the suspension of their children services an Independent Review and Audit was commissioned into their remaining Adults services to ensure that they were safe, fit for practice and compliant with current safeguarding requirements.
Like with all organisations that have suffered serious incidents any safeguarding audit or review of the Good Support Group Adults services would need to be managed sensitively and transparency. The ongoing support of staff and the dignity of service users was a key feature when agreeing the Review’s activities and arrangements in order to promote full engagement and honesty of contributions.
They also required expert assistance to help identify risks and gaps, make recommendations for improvements and help create a safeguarding action plan to promote a change for a safer culture.
During the work to develop a Safeguarding Action Plan, Athena became aware that the services that the Good Support Group provided would be taken back under Council control by 31st March 2020, which required a full suite of further new Policies being prepared under related areas.
The Athena Solution
Athena recommended a strategic overview review of TGSG Safeguarding Governance, Reporting pathways, policies and procedural documentation, site visits to both centres, face to face interviews with key post holders, focus groups and case files audits.
The findings of the review would be detailed in a report identifying areas for development, make recommendations for improvements and advice on an action plan with priority areas and suggested time-frames for completion. The report would indicate priority areas for action by the use a R (red), A (amber), G (green) (RAG) rating.
It became apparent during the review process that there were development requirements in safeguarding governance processes and practices across the organisation. This related not only to safeguarding adults at risk but wider business practices including safer recruitment, communication and training.
During the review TGSG commissioned Athena to assist them in producing a Safeguarding Plan that would provide the Directors with the oversight of their responsibilities and risks and help them deliver safeguarding improvements in a timely manner. Each recommendation and proposed action would be assigned a SMART action plan led by a strong and dedicated leadership team.
Athena also identified that TGSG did not have a readily identifiable Designated Safeguarding Lead (or deputy) or clear lines of reporting which provided confusion to staff and a risk to the organisation.
Prior to the site visits in August 2019, Athena spent time reviewing and researching the TGSG’s safeguarding policy, procedures and a library of closely aligned policies and documents, i.e. whistle blowing policy, Complaints Policy, Lone Worker Policy Allegations against staff and Induction Procedures.
It was acknowledged during the review that the organisation’s collective safeguarding policy and procedures required updating for compliance. During the review TGSG commissioned Athena also produced an up to date Safeguarding Policies and recording form. New writing of policies also included:
- Whistleblowing Policy and procedures
- Reporting of Serious Incidents Policy
- Administration of Medication Policy
- Complaints – How to make a complaint explained
- E-Safety Policy
- Lone Workers Policy
- Allegations Management Policy
- Personal & Intimate Care Policy
- Reflective Supervision Policy and Procedures
- Visitor Policy
The review identified that TGSG required development in the areas of Safeguarding training at induction level, frontline staff and management and DSO level. There was an absence of records for safeguarding training for all staff.
The initial review identified a number of areas for improvement and development. These areas appeared in the TGSG Safeguarding Action plan. Whilst most of the areas have been addressed the remaining areas for improvement are being driven forward by the transition date back to Council ownership by 31st March 2020.
The Interim Managing Director now leads on the implementation plans in partnership with the Athena team (led by Dr Carlick) and therefore now has excellent oversight and strategic planning in place to act as a platform for progression. This links a safer culture with effective Governance and models safer values, attitudes and behaviours.
A Designated Safeguarding Lead and a team of Safeguarding champions have been appointed to provide a robust safeguarding structure within TGSG.
New Safeguarding Policies and Procedures with clear reporting pathways and structures have been written and implemented within TGSG. Along with a suite of further relevant policies.
Athena provided appropriate safeguarding training for the newly appointed DSO and deputy. The bespoke training was provided conveniently using a remote delivery programme. This ensured that both delegates could access the training from different locations maintaining a consistent TGSG approach.
TGSG has developed a robust training recording system linked to HR activity.
Whilst supporting the interim Director of TGSG in its action plan delivery Athena became aware of the intention of The London Borough of Newham to take back the company into full council ownership by 31st March 2020. In order to prepare for the transition Athena was commissioned to conduct a 2nd Review in order to compare finding against the original Review conducted in August 2019.
This review found significant improvements
In order to prepare TGSG for this transition by 31st March 2020 Athena was commissioned to provide a suite of additional Policies as requested by the Council. These new Policies were matched against the C.Q.C. KLOE and NICE requirements and they were produced in time for the transfer of business
TGSG is now a safer organisation as it is handed back to council control.