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A New Year message to Brandon staff, friends and families, from our Acting Chief Executive

Tanya Abbott, Acting Chief ExecutiveI wish a happy New Year to all of you. As we welcome 2023, I am sure like me, you have taken a moment to reflect on the past year. So, I take this moment to share some of my thoughts with you.

During 2022...

We once again witnessed the continued under-resourcing by successive governments, taking its toll on social care. Like all providers, we had to act in-year to secure our financial footing. This of course came in the context of many actions that will continue into 2023 and most probably beyond. A consequence of an under-resourced, undervalued sector has unfortunately resulted in unprecedented staffing vacancies in social care. *Skills for Care detailed there would be at least one hundred and sixty-five thousand vacancies across social care by the end of 2022.

At Brandon, we did indeed see high vacancies in 2022, yet I have been reminded every day of the enormous resilience, versatility, passion, and empathy of our employees. And I asked myself, could we come out of 2022 stronger? I know we can.

Why do I think this? I have worked for Brandon since 1994, starting as a support worker. Throughout the years we have faced many a challenge, but I have always felt a sense of shared purpose, and an understanding of one's and others' values and strengths to pull together to work for those we support to live the life they want and deserve.

This was no different in 2022. Despite our staffing shortages, our Care Quality Commission ratings have been above national average compared to other providers who have a similar portfolio to us. 18 of our locations are either Good or Outstanding, 3 Require Improvement. To take that further, out of the 105 domains (known as Key Lines of Enquiry, or KLOEs) CQC assessed in our 21 locations, 92 were good, 4 were outstanding and only 9 required improvement. This is a phenomenal achievement.

Our shared purpose was never more evident in-year than when we developed our five-year strategy, Plan B. Plan B set out what we will do to create a future where we are all connected and have equal opportunities to make choices and thrive. A group of people at Brandon with lived experience who call themselves the Adventurers, had a key role in the creation of our strategy.

The Adventurers have championed our strategy throughout the year by engaging in projects designed to overcome the barriers people with learning disabilities face. There are too many achievements to list, but a couple do stick out. One of those is where they have potentially impacted 5,000-plus people with learning disabilities by being commissioned to create an Accessible Health Action Plan that GPs and people with disabilities could use together, especially at annual health checks. This was distributed to all the GP practices in the local authority. We were also commissioned to make a film to help increase awareness of annual health checks for people with a learning disability.

Another, was where they undertook a quality review of a general hospital, giving direct feedback to the Head of Learning Disability Nursing. This hospital has more than 10,000 staff who will learn much from their findings and recommendations.

And of course, at the end of 2022, we said goodbye to our Chief Executive, Sue Porto, who enabled us to grow and strengthen our resolve for 2023. We look forward to working together with our Board of Trustees to welcome a new CEO to Brandon soon.

Onwards to 2023...

In readiness for 2023, we have gathered feedback from our employees. We know there remains limited resources given our financial dependency on struggling local authorities, but this does not mean we do not strive to make social care a better place. We will work inclusively in 2023 on the feedback we were given, to increase job satisfaction and champion the valued role that our employees bring to society.

As a closing thought, please put yourself for one moment in the shoes of a loved one whose sibling, son, or daughter is supported by Brandon staff. A staff member supporting your loved one when they need them the most. These staff are highly trained professionals taking care of loved ones every day. Is it really good enough to be under resourced?

We do not think so. Alongside other providers, we have begun and will continue in 2023, to advocate on behalf of social care to central government for pay parity for equivalent roles across the whole NHS and social care sector and significantly improve the funding for local authorities on which providers rely.

As we move into 2023, we are proud to hold our sense of shared purpose in our hearts.

Tanya Abbott
Acting Chief Executive