Archive for October, 2020

Coronavirus and Dignity in Care Awards

Monday, October 26th, 2020

The theme this week, in the Covid outbreak, is one of rising infection levels across the country; Staffordshire is not immune in this respect.  Stoke has moved into High Alert or Tier 2 on Friday.  In Staffordshire, infection levels are mostly lower, but nonetheless rising, and on the current trajectory it will be a question of when, rather than if, the county moves into High Alert too.  My aim, along with the whole of the county council, is to manage this transition in a planned manner, firstly through our ongoing discussions with government but more importantly by working with residents and partner organisations across the public and private sectors, to ensure that we strike the balance between control measures and keeping Staffordshire businesses and schools operating as well as is possible. 

Local test and trace arrangements are working well, which is the result of a great deal of detailed work by county council and NHS colleagues, but, we must remind ourselves that any test and trace effort contains the spread after infection has happened; as infection levels rise, the focus moves onto personal behaviours of hygiene, space and face coverings, which will have the greatest preventative effect on the spread of the virus.  Having made a great effort in the first wave to treat Staffordshire residents with respect and trust in their common sense, the fastest route out of Tier 2, if and when it happens, is for these efforts to be redoubled.

Adult Social Care providers bore the brunt of the first outbreak, and it was good this week to have an opportunity to speak to the care providers at one of their regular meetings with Health and Care colleagues.  My main messages were to says thanks, well done, and we will be with you in exactly the same way in the winter ahead.  We had some pretty dire predictions of infection levels and staff illness and absence in March and early April, which did not come to pass, principally because they and our colleagues put in some very targeted and effective measures which kept the show on the road; we are doing the same again to ensure that the winter passes safely. The virtual event worked well, with well over 150 attendees, which gives an indication of the size and complexity of the effort. 

I’m also delighted that we are continuing with the Dignity in Care Awards this year, also in a virtual format.  This is an excellent opportunity to recognise the efforts of carers across Staffordshire.  It is, I think, a unique enterprise, in that it gives equal attention to professional and voluntary carers, which, in my opinion is very important.  As we recover from the Covid pandemic, there is an opportunity to build upon the raised profile that care has as a profession and activity; events such as the Dignity in Care Awards offer a real platform to achieve that.    

Meeting teams, delivering for Staffordshire and MJ Awards

Monday, October 5th, 2020

I spent part of last week attending team meetings, either in person or using Microsoft Teams, and I thought that some of you might be interested in some feedback.  Firstly, I’m very grateful to the teams who were very welcoming, and allowed me to take about 20 minutes of their collaborative time.  I was hugely impressed and reassured by the robust morale which I perceived, and the upbeat nature of the conversations.  We are all working very hard, and many of us are struggling to find the boundaries between work and leisure – myself included – but there’s no doubt from the colleagues with whom I spoke, that we are all well aware of the importance of the work that we are doing, and of the positive results that we are achieving for the residents of Staffordshire. There is, however, a realisation that we’ve got another 6 months of this at least, and although some factors will be less pressing, because we’ve mastered them in the past 6 months, it will also be through a winter when we will undoubtedly have a flu season, and it will be getting colder and darker.

This morning SLT will discuss a paper on the piece of work that I trailed last week about moving capacity within the organisation to bolster those areas which are under increased pressure, rather like we did with the #iCount campaign in April.  It is a more deliberate, considered approach this time around, because of what we have learned, but also because we will be tackling this while all of our services are up and running.  I’m clear that all options are on the table in terms of increasing capacity where it is needed, including bringing in extra staff, and also taking some more risk by reducing in some carefully selected areas.  I’ll keep you posted on how this work progresses, and I would ask that you have a look at what is available under the #DoIt campaign, but hopefully you are reassured that I am completely focused on this as we enter winter.

Lastly, I’m delighted that we got three teams into the MJ Achievement Awards on Friday.  Sadly, I did not see it as I was with Gavin Williamson MP at the time.  Even more sadly, we did not manage to pick up any winners.  Whether in a normal year, where we would have had a face-to-face interview board, at which they could have seen the enthusiasm and the substance behind our entries, we would have done better, I couldn’t say.  But I am sure that the 3 teams – Provider Improvement Management Team in Adult Social Care, Staffordshire Warmer Homes in Public Health, and Highways – are representative of many excellent teams producing tangible results.  Without wishing to sound like a proud parent at a primary school sports day, you’re all winners!