I’ve decided to do a regular blog to let people know what’s going on in Iris Care Group. I will also comment from time to time on wider issues in our sector. I will also use it as an opportunity to celebrate the work of the great staff and the achievements of the people we support.
An update on our new combined services
Iris Care Group was formed in May following the merger of Holmleigh Care and Ludlow Street Healthcare. I’m very pleased with how the merger went. It was planned and implemented very thoroughly and we hit all the deadlines we set ourselves. However, this is just the start of our journey, and we are working hard to build a strong combined culture for our new organisation
I’ve worked in health and social care for nearly 40 years, and throughout my career I’ve always felt strongly that senior management visibility is really important in helping to create a positive culture. Staff should know the people who lead them, and know that those people demonstrate the organisation’s values through their behaviour. I regularly try to visit as many services as possible and I know that the rest of the Iris Care Group senior management team are aiming to do the same.
I have had quite a lot of experience of leading mergers. What often happens is that one organisation is perceived as taking over the other. I would like to reassure colleagues and all our stakeholders that Iris England and Wales are equal partners in our new merged organisation. We are planning a programme of events so that the people we support and our staff can get to know each other.
Learning disability hospitals get a bad press in our sector. We have a learning disability hospital, Pinetree Court, in Cardiff. We admit people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. I am hugely impressed with both the technical expertise of our staff, including our clinicians and therapists, and the person-centred ethos of the service.
I was at Pinetree last week, and was very impressed with the respectful way in which our staff interact with the people they are supporting. The Pinetree team have been through a tough patch supporting some individuals who have experienced very difficult emotions which have had an understandable impact on their behaviour. I would like to thank them for all their hard work and commitment.
In both England and Wales, we have a lot of very skilled staff who work very effectively with people with very complex needs, including a diagnosis of autism. I recently visited a single-person service in Gloucester where we support a gentleman with a diagnosis of autism who has a very challenging history. He is a lovely chap and I was very impressed with the work that his support team have done to build a rapport with him, which has led to both a reduction in behaviours of concern and a real improvement in his quality of life.
I will finish with a quick word about weeds. Throughout my career, I have had a reputation for being obsessed about weeds. I think first impressions are very important when I visit someone’s home, and I really don’t like seeing weeds outside. I was Chief Executive of a provider supporting people with learning disabilities for 13 years and always visited 10 services a week (before I retired for the first time; I’ve done it twice and realised it’s not for me!).
One of the leaving presents from my staff was a bottle of weed killer. True to form, I have been picking weeds if I come across them and speaking to staff about it. I know that it hasn’t always gone down well but I do think it’s important for both the people we support and our staff that they take pride in their environment.