Caring for our residents and those who may join us

This week has been dominated by the proposed changes to the Senior Leadership Team, and by the emerging refugee crisis.

I’ve always tried to undertake re-organisations in a deliberate manner, starting with defining the outcomes or products, then working out the processes which make these outcomes and products, and only then looking at structures.  I’ve found that too often people rush to an organisation chart, or set themselves arbitrary targets before working out what they actually want to achieve. For this reason, I was keen not to be rushed into a new structure, and was delighted that Philip Atkins and the Cabinet agreed to give me a three month window in which to think things through.

The biggest change is a proposal to bring Health and Adult Social Care together under the leadership of one director in the SLT.  As I think most people agree, the biggest challenge of our generation is to extend the healthy years of Staffordshire’s  residents in line with the improvements that medical science is making in life expectancy. Bringing preventative health and care at home together will allow us to work with our NHS colleagues to achieve this.

The refugee crisis, and the news that the UK will take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next 5 years, brought a feeling of déjà vu for me, having worked on this with the German authorities over the past three years, and with experience from the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.  The first key issue is to define the end state; are we accommodating these people with a view to repatriating them after the civil war in Syria is over, or is the intention to integrate them into British society?

Everybody focuses on housing, but it is probably the easiest and cheapest part of the problem.  We can reasonably assume that all the children have a need for extra support, for language if nothing else, and a high proportion will fall into our looked-after children system, having seen and experienced things that children should not.  There will also be long-term health issues to address from people who have spent weeks and months, and in some cases years, living in refugee camps without adequate sanitation and medical care, and in areas where malaria and other tropical diseases are endemic.  That’s before you get to dentistry, post-traumatic stress disorder and adult education.  It’s not for the faint hearted.

On a lighter note, I very much enjoyed my hour in the hot seat of BBC Radio Stoke with  Perry Spiller.  He’s a really decent guy, who is interested and interesting.  I promised to go back in six months or so, when I suspect that the callers might be a little less generous in terms of welcome, given that I will not have the defence of being the new boy.

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