Living Our Values

I had always been very aware of ENABLE Scotland, and had noted the shift in their profile as a modern, vibrant charity in the social care sector over the last couple of years. So I was excited by the opportunity to move into the role of Director of Services and Child Protection Officer last year to help build on the success of the charity’s PA Model of social care delivery with an organisation that has taken on such an important role in Scottish civic society.

What a difference a year makes

I could never have anticipated that within my first year in post, we would be dealing with a global pandemic unlike anything any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes.

As we faced up to the challenges and upheaval brought about by Covid-19 back in March, I felt that this would either bring out the best in people, or the worst.

It’s always easy to say you’re proud of the organisation you work for, to the point that saying so has probably lost its impact. But beyond what is now common in social media platitudes, there is a truth and authenticity demonstrated by ENABLE Scotland’s teams across the country to continue – through our Personal Assistant (PA) Model – to deliver exceptional levels of personalised care and support to vulnerable adults and children throughout this immensely difficult period.

But there’s nothing lucky or coincidental about how we have navigated our way through the storm of Covid-19.

The advantage of still being relatively new to ENABLE Scotland is that I can view the organisation in perspective and consider its strengths against the other bodies and providers I’ve been involved with in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors over the course of more than 25 years working in health and social care.

I can honestly say ENABLE Scotland is the most values-driven organisation I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of. It’s a pleasure to work with such talented, dedicated colleagues who are absolutely committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for all of the people we support.

We’re not perfect – no provider is – but we continue to strive to advance the rights of people who have a learning disability by following “the four P’s” – Purpose, Professionalism, the PA Model and Passion for equality.

 

Purpose

Every organisation has its stated mission, vision and values, but the reality is that some lapse into a culture of simply operating to fulfil statutory obligations, or being driven by pressure to generate profits.

Since I joined ENABLE Scotland, it has been striking how the charity’s purpose has been central to every decision that has been made. At the heart of everything we do is consideration of how we can improve the lives of people who have a learning disability and contribute to a fairer and more equal society.

 

 

Professionalism

That’s certainly not to say that being purpose-driven is at the expense of professionalism.

On the contrary, the level of professionalism right across ENABLE Scotland is beyond anything I’ve seen elsewhere.

The Covid-19 crisis has really brought this to the fore. The significant investment the charity made in technology and its commitment to establishing a digitally-enabled workforce meant the massive upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic was experienced by most of the 2,200 staff as a relatively smooth transition to remote working and a bit more reliance on the smart phones all our Personal Assistants (PAs) had been issued with prior to the crisis.

This has really highlighted how our adoption of digital solutions and communications hasn’t been an emergency response to a unique crisis; it’s demonstrated the agility of the organisation and our commitment to innovation and improvement.

So our response to this crisis hasn’t been to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass so we can come back out and do things the same way we used to; we have been driving positive change and adapting the way we work for the better and for the long term.

 

PA Model

Having been part of the inclusion movement going right back to when most people who have a learning disability in Scotland were still routinely living in institutions, I consider the charity’s commitment to the PA Model of personalised support to be central to its appeal and its success.

It’s seven years since the Scottish Parliament passed its Self-Directed Support (SDS) legislation, yet as Audit Scotland and others have noted, there are still far too many examples of the Act’s laudable objectives not being translated into people’s experience of care and support.

ENABLE Scotland’s PA Model gives people true choice and control across all the SDS options, and our values mean we aspire to deliver care and support in accordance with the spirit of what SDS means to how people live their lives, and not just to the letter of the law.

 

 

Passion for equality

I think what really makes ENABLE Scotland so unique is that it’s much more than just a social care provider.

It’s a charity set up 66 years ago by families who were determined to achieve better outcomes and better lives for their loved ones who had a learning disability, and this culture of campaigning for change and fighting for people’s rights is embedded in how we deliver care and support on the frontline – and in everything the organisation does.

This is reflected in the recognition that the charity works for the people we support, and that staff across the organisation are therefore dedicated to supporting our PAs on the frontline to have everything they need to deliver excellent self-directed care and support.

Sometime, people working in social care organisations will tell you that “the tail wags the dog”, but at ENABLE Scotland, I really feel we have the balance right. This doesn’t happen by accident, and I must credit Theresa’s leadership in setting the standard for the whole organisation and placing our PAs at the centre of the charity’s operational focus.

Again, the Covid-19 crisis has brought this culture sharply into focus, and I have really been struck at how the other teams across the Group have brought their expertise and energy to supporting our keyworkers on the frontline.

From our unique internal recruitment agency, ENABLE Recruits, bringing more talent into the organisation, to the daily communications and guidance updates for staff, to the focus on health and wellbeing from our Practice Development Team, to the consistent, reliable support from all our vital back office services; I really feel the values and purpose of the charity have shone through. This crisis really has brought out the best in us.

When we get care and support right, it changes lives – and sometimes saves lives.

As we start to move out of the emergency phase of the Covid-19 response, I really feel like the crisis has made us stronger and even more determined as an organisation to put our values into action and really change lives.

Our focus remains relentlessly on keeping people who have a learning disability safe, well and supported in their own homes and out of hospital. Our Practice Development Team and Learning Disability Nursing partnerships have shown that we can apply these values to some of the most complex and successful examples of care and support I have ever seen.

Where we have supported people out of hospital and institutional settings where they have lived for many years and into their own homes – sometimes for the very first time – we have received excellent feedback from commissioners and stakeholders. We know this is difficult, but we also know it’s the right thing to do, and we are passionate about seeing everyone being given the opportunity to live the life they choose out of hospital settings as citizens in their own home and community.

As a society, we have a moral duty to put things in place that make people feel connected; that they’re not isolated; that they’re not alone; that their lives are worthwhile.

I am so proud to be part of a charity that is driven by its values and determination to deliver an equal society for every person who has a learning disability. It’s been a very eventful first year, but I believe it has made us even stronger and better equipped to deliver real change to society, to social care and to people’s lives in the years ahead.

Howard Elliott – Director of Services

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