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Share the Journey

Would you like to find out more and Share the Journey with Medequip and Community Catalysts to learn and share how services can be improved, undertake some benchmarking, hear our experiences, trial some innovations?

To get involved – please complete this simple application form and email it back to d.griffiths@medequip-uk.com and we will be in touch.

Date:

Journeys, Roadmaps and the Importance of Keeping Going

I don’t have a background in social care so I have mixed feelings about commenting on this report but anything with the word “roadmap” is like honey to a bear for someone who supports social care through providing community equipment and the like.

We’re all aware of the significant issues facing what we know as social care, and I had my own experiences recently with my mother-in-law as mentioned in a previous article.

But as a lifelong fan of Newcastle United I’ve learned to learn from the doom merchants but be motivated by more positive voices.

So, although this ADASS report covers familiar ground, and doesn’t underestimate the short and long term tasks, I was heartened to see so much optimism about the future possibilities.

And, especially pleased to see the central role of co-production with people who draw on support, and the reference to the Social Care Future vision and the Making it Real framework developed by Think Local, Act Personal.

The world of Community Equipment has never been seen as a top priority in regards to its place in discussions on funding, the workforce challenges, and the personalisation of outcomes.

But the times they are a-changing.

At the Medequip-sponsored National Association of Equipment Providers annual conference this year we will hear from a range of speakers, including a new voice for Adult Social Care, Bryonny Shannon and one of the architects of the Social Care Future movement, Anna Severwright

And, Medequip has been on its own journey.

From changes to our process of collecting feedback, work alongside Community Catalysts, Healthwatch and local community organisations, to setting up our national co-production group, Equipment Matters, to both challenge and support this journey.

We’ve even held out our hand to local authorities who want to continue providing their own in-house community equipment services, as a partner in their own journey.

I won’t try and summarise any more of the report, there are many voices better placed to do this than I, but as ADASS and the authors say…..

“That means this is a challenge to all of us. To Directors of Adult Social Services, to lead change with our communities, so care and support genuinely enables people to live fulfilling lives. To our public service partners, corporate colleagues and providers in the private and voluntary sectors, who all need to contribute to a better future. And to everyone in England to participate in a bigger public conversation about the importance of care and support and to agree a new social contract on how to fund social care and what we can expect from it”.

If you are one of Medequip’s existing partners, are considering buying our services from a framework or are thinking about how the provision of community equipment can improve outcomes in your area in the context of the ADASS roadmap, why not get in touch with me for a chat.

David Griffiths, Managing Director, Medequip
d.griffiths@medequip-uk.com

Date:

Sharing the Journey: The Challenge of Delivering the Social Care Future Vision

We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing things that matter to us. That's the social care future we seek. #socialcarefuture

Today, Medequip, like most of the organisations working to make and distribute Community Equipment, is guided by a mission statement and an overarching purpose, in addition to providing a return to shareholders.

But is it enough to focus on vulnerability, independence, physical impairments and all the things we associate with other people?

The statement above was produced by Social Care Future. Not an organisation, but a movement of people who draw on social care and their allies, whose primary goal is to reframe social care as something that affects us all. In summary, working to achieve the objective of ‘a gloriously ordinary life’ everyone should have the right to enjoy.

Medequip and the Social Care Future Community of Practice

At Medequip, we know that over 10% of our staff live with a long-term condition. If you add to that number those who provide care and support to family members, friends and neighbours, those who are active in their communities and those that are seriously ill from time to time, it’s a significant part of our community.

So, we were really pleased to be invited alongside with other organisations to develop and co-present a workshop session for the Social Care Future Community of Practice in November 2022.

Inspired by a powerful presentation by Jennifer Pearl https://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/Blog/Title-Co-production-and-community-equipment-provision/ and working with other people who draw on care, Community Catalysts and Think Personal, Act Local, we planned a session that would challenge ourselves and others to think about how the Community Equipment services, however they are delivered could help achieve the Social Care Future vision.

Recognising the challenges

We are all aware of the long-term debates on how things should be organised in the health and social care systems. We also know there will be more people with more complex support needs and that there are financial and workforce limitations.

But we also know from talking to people, that they want things to be better today and tomorrow.

If not, their basic quality of life and dignity are compromised.

The workshop session gave us a valuable opportunity to share our ideas, frustrations, inspirations and work-arounds, identifying things we could do quickly to make a real difference.

Key learning points from the workshop session

For the services we provide:

  • If we want to understand how community equipment services can support the Social Care Future vision, we have to learn to work alongside people who use services at every step.
  • We need to be aware that people currently experience a variety of different models of community equipment service, with different service standards and targets.
  • Most services are under strain, and find it hard to support individual outcomes with their level of funding and staff. In these situations the focus can shift to managing activity speeds and controlling costs, either through limiting equipment on ‘the catalogue’ or by setting up ‘spend panels’.
  • There are some particular challenges with ‘specials’, those items that are not included in the main list of items that can be prescribed and delivered.
  • Community Equipment services are fundamental to many aspects of how the health and social care system works. Therefore, they need to be considered by commissioners when they launch new initiatives, e.g. to speed up hospital discharge, use more residential and nursing care beds, or provide support to people with more complex needs in their own homes.

Listening to the individuals

  • Peoples’ time is important so flexibility and real-time updates are as important as delivery speeds and waiting times.
  • We need more focus on checking in with people and doing inclusive reviews as there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of equipment not being used properly, or at all.
  • Peoples’ real experiences can be of poor communication and coordination between the services that are supposed to support them. Problems with equipment delivery or use can be a symptom of this.
  • There needs to be both more information, and more support, for people who choose, or have to, make their own arrangements.

Listening to the people working to make improvements - things we need to share

  • General information sharing through websites and other online resources as well as opportunities to learn from each other.
  • Specific information on activity levels, pricing models, equipment costs, and recycling rates.
  • Processes for the management of specials including benchmarking information.
  • Experience of using demonstration smart homes or smart spaces for people to try equipment before they buy it.
  • Experience of different methods of collecting feedback (including the Medequip co-produced feedback survey)
  • Examples of business cases that can be used to model an evidenced best practice, eg cost avoidance, budget savings, prevention approaches, the whole life cost of better quality equipment, the impact on other budget areas of an underperforming, or underbudgeted community equipment service.
  • Information from many pilot projects, for example where doublehanded care has been reduced by the provision of equipment and training.

So what can we do next to make real improvements?

  • Shift the focus to outcomes and what difference the service makes to people - don’t just count spending and measure activity.
  • Check your communication strategy and plan is built around what people using services have said they need and would find useful.
  • Make sure you and your partner organisations, including voluntary and community sector organisations, are communicating well together.
  • Share your learning and make sure you have allowed time for your staff to learn from each other, from people who use services and from people in other organisations.
  • Think how the organisation is helping people who want to make their own arrangements for equipment and technology. What local arrangements are there for people to see and try equipment and technology?
  • Training on the preventative benefits of simple aids to daily living should be provided more widely.
  • Refresh and restate your commitment to co-production with people who use services, prescribers and providers. Sign up to the Social Care Future movement and attend future events at https://socialcarefuture.org.uk/join-in/
  • Use the Think Local, Act Personal ‘Making it Real’ framework when you are monitoring or reviewing the services you commission or provide. https://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/makingitreal/

Make it personal every time. Adult social care impacts on the lives of over 10 million people in England alone, and at some point, most of us will provide care for a loved one, or need care ourselves.

Medequip will continue to promote the Social Care Future vision whenever, and wherever we can. We see direct references to it, and the language it uses popping up with the statutory services we work with and in some invitation to tender documents.

The vision was used by Sarah McClinton, the President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in her opening address to their conference in November 2022.

It informed the Church of England Archbishops’ Commission, "Care and Support Reimagined" Care and Support Reimagined A National Care Covenant for England (Summary).pdf (churchofengland.org) and has been included within the approach proposed by the Labour Party.

Medequip is not a campaigning organisation, but we have a view on what works and what doesn’t.

We hope our statutory and voluntary sector partners will work with the people who use our services, Medequip, or whoever provides community equipment, to keep improving.

After all, who is not moved by the Social Care Future vision, with its emphasis on home, love and community?

And who wouldn’t want “a gloriously ordinary life”?

(A version of this article first appeared in the membership newsletter of the National Association of Equipment Providers in March 2023)

Date:

Working to Be a More Inclusive Employer

Working to Be a More Inclusive Employer

It’s been very busy for everyone at Medequip for quite some time, and if I look forward, I can’t see anything changing soon.

Supporting the health and social care system is an important and demanding task in the best of times, and I wouldn’t say we are in the best of times.

Against this backdrop I find it very challenging, balancing my work life with my personal life. But as someone said, if you enjoy work, finding that balance isn’t quite so hard.

So, I’m always really pleased to hear feedback from people who use the service that shows Medequip staff really care about the service they provide.

Professional, knowledgeable and respectful go without saying. But staff who have been empathetic, patient and kind and put themselves out, can really make a difference to someone’s day. And that feedback helps people find their own balance.

If you have employment that you enjoy, with people you care about and who care about you, then you’ll realise how unfair it is that many disabled people, or those who face barriers into employment don’t have the same opportunity.

That’s one reason Medequip is working hard to be a more inclusive employer. The other is that it makes business sense. Two great reasons to try harder.

Across the country we are Sharing the Journey with Local Authority contract partners, local Supported Employment agencies and Apprenticeship providers. For some people, it’s just some practical adjustments to their workspace that makes all the difference. For others it requires different organisations to work together with the employee, their family or network and their co-workers.

Medequip can’t be experts in everything, but we can proactively reach out and find that expertise to help us be better.

You’ll see more in this newsletter from Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK who is helping us shape our policies and culture. The national work of Laura Davis and the British Association of Supported Employment and the work going on in Birmingham with our own Jo Page, the Local Authority and a number of partners.

Whatever it takes to increase our inclusiveness, we find it makes us a better organisation. More aware of each other and how we all contribute differently. More aware of our purpose and what we need to do to help people stay independent for longer.

More able to find that balance.

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Sharing the Journey with BASE and PURE

Sharing the Journey with BASE and PURE

Achieving a more inclusive recruitment policy is an integral part of Medequip’s HR strategy. The business has been working closely with BASE (British Association for Supported Employment) for some years to develop the policy. This month, Medequip’s Birmingham depot was pleased to welcome their third PURE trainee, with two previous trainees now in permanent employment at the depot.

The PURE project (Placing vulnerable Urban Residents into Employment) is the result of an innovative partnership between Birmingham City Council and a group of eight providers including Midland Mencap, MIND, Birmingham & Solihull Women’s AID, BID Services, Trident Reach, Fry Accord, Rathbone and Swanswell. Part funded by the European Social Fund, PURE brings together a range of coordinated interventions designed to assist the needs of the people with barriers into the employment market.

Depot Manager Jo Page has been a committed supporter of the PURE project for some time now, since her first PURE candidates joined the business prior to the pandemic.

We have been able to welcome a number of PURE candidates, despite a brief hiatus because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, she explained. We were always convinced we had the right environment to support, mentor and guide individuals through to employment, education and training in line with the PURE objectives.

Manjit joined Medequip as a permanent employee in 2021. Adrian became a permanent employee recently, and new candidate David is now completing work experience, supported by the team and his peers from PURE, in particular Manjit who has taken on a significant training role.

We have benefited from great support from local agencies as well as our own Medequip team here in Birmingham, who are completely on board with our objectives, added Jo. Our PURE people are an important and integral part of this team and a joy to work with, as well as exhibiting high levels of commitment and reliability.

As a result of her involvement with PURE and Midland Mencap, Jo was delighted to be invited to present graduation certificates recently at Fircroft College, a specialist adult residential college based in Selly Oak, Birmingham and originally founded by George Cadbury Junior in 1908. The college offers short courses aimed at helping adults improve their skills and confidence and work towards reaching their own personal or work goals.

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Partnering with Disability Rights UK for a More Inclusive Employment Strategy

Partnering with Disability Rights UK for a More Inclusive Employment Strategy

Disability Rights UK is a leading organisation run by and working for Disabled people across the UK, operating with a broad spectrum of organisations and governmental bodies to influence change in terms of better rights, benefits, quality of life and economic opportunities for Disabled people. Disability Rights UK celebrates a decade of action this year; the organisation was established in 2012, and continues to work to enable diverse Disabled people to have a voice and influence and to connect with each other.

Medequip and Disability Rights UK have been working together for some time on the Disability Confident programme, with Disability Rights UK supporting Medequip on the journey to become a Disability Confident employer, thinking differently about disability and making the workplace more accessible. Here, CEO Kamran Mallick talks about the organisation’s involvement with Medequip and his own expectations for how cooperation between Disability Rights UK and Medequip is expected to deliver into the future.

Now that Disability Rights UK and Medequip have been working together for some time, what impression has this insight given you into the Medequip ethos?

It’s been good to put a face to a company I’ve known for many years in terms of equipment supply. Talking to colleagues at Medequip, it’s absolutely clear that the team has a real desire and commitment to do things differently. This is not just a business to the people I’ve met; they’re dedicated to playing a developing role in helping to support people to live independently and well, alongside striving to be inclusive in everything they do.

Has Medequip been an easy organisation to work with?

This is a great people business. The team has been very open to constructive dialogue in terms of working practices, and is genuinely seeking our input to help them improve. I’m looking forward to meeting the wider management team when we deliver Disability Confident training later this year.

Do you believe Medequip is open to both listening and learning?

On the evidence I’ve seen so far, definitely. We’re helping them to examine just who they are, what they are and why as an organisation, defining their drive to be a better, more inclusive employer. We have actively challenged and questioned them around Disability Confident issues, and the responses have been positive and encouraging.

Are there mutual benefits to the partnership?

Definitely. At Disability Rights UK, we’re all about working towards creating an inclusive society where Disabled people can live independent and fulfilling lives, and we provide training and consultancy to businesses seeking to benefit from being a truly inclusive employer. Medequip is one of the many components involved in achieving that goal. Coming together to share knowledge and experience is integral to bringing about change and improvements. We’re all driven by trying to shift society so it’s better for the next generation, and it’s clear that changes made benefitting disabled people benefit everyone in society.

How do you see the partnership with Medequip evolving into the future?

We’re hoping our partnership will develop beyond the framework of the Disability Confident programme at Level 3 Leader status. There are clear opportunities to expand the sphere of influence developed by Medequip in this arena, going over and above the concepts of inclusive recruitment and other programme components. We would like to see this commitment extend to the wider supply chain, with Medequip demonstrating the benefits of inclusive employment to their suppliers and supporting other associated companies operating in this field to begin their own journeys towards disability equality and improved employment opportunities.

Kamran Mallick, CEO for Disability Rights UK, has been a wheelchair user since the age of three. He has been involved in the field of disability equality and rights all his working life, mainly in the not-for-profit sector, and has also served as CEO for Action on Disability.

Date:

BASE – The Leading Voice for Supported Employment Across the UK

BASE

BASE is a members’ charity bringing together a collective voice for the Supported Employment community. We work across government to champion the Supported Employment model, raising standards and quality within the sector and addressing the ongoing inequalities that exist for people with a disability who are trying to access employment. Our objective is to create an environment where everyone who wants to work has the opportunity to do so.

Supported Employment is an evidence-based model helping people who want to work, yet are largely excluded by the mainstream routes into employment. The greatest barrier to inclusion in the workforce is the recruitment process itself. Our model supports employers to explore ways to reduce these barriers and access an untapped workforce with so much to give.

BASE – The Leading Voice for Supported Employment

It’s not just about recruitment but about retention too. Supported Employment agencies work to build employers’ understanding and awareness of how the supported employment model can build the confidence within the workforce to retain talented people with a disability. If you can get it right for people with a learning disability, you’ll also open up the doors to other excluded groups who will bring diversity and talent to your working environment.

It’s not a unicorn – it’s a model that works. Some employers really engage – they get that it’s good for the business, meeting core business needs and not just a CSR exercise. The employers who get it right and recruit to the future potential of candidates have a real opportunity to access a rich and diverse workforce.

There’s a wealth of support out there, with agencies up and down the country who will partner with you and help you to become a more inclusive employer. There’s a misconception around the costs involved, too. Whilst there may be some additional time investment initially, the rewards are significant, and the average cost of a reasonable adjustment is between £30-£180 per individual.

At BASE, we enjoy an excellent working relationship with Medequip. The Medequip team first came to BASE to seek guidance and advice on making recruitment and employment more inclusive. We’ve helped Medequip to connect out to local organisations in areas where they have depots, making introductions and opening up new opportunities. It’s a great partnership where we’re learning together to develop best practice.

Laura Davis
CEO, BASE (British Association for Supported Employment)

BASE also offers training for employers around Supported Employment and is instrumental in developing organisational standards in this field.

Date:

Share the Journey - An Introduction

Share the Journey

It's about the people you meet along the way

Any long project, is like any long journey. However fabulous the destination is going to be, it’s important to be happy along the way.

Medequip have been on a journey of improvement, and truth be told, working in the Health and Social Care system, the destination, whilst always in sight, is always some way off.

That is why we want to do our best today, and tomorrow, for our contract authorities, suppliers, community partners and the people we support.

So, when someone asked me if we ever partnered with or helped in-house Community Equipment Services, I couldn’t think of good reasons why we weren’t and I was curious about the people we would meet. We got our thinking hats on, thought about what we could offer and so the idea of “share the journey” was born.

Share the journey is a three month, fully-funded project team, offered to three Local Authorities or NHS organisations that provide their own, in-house Community Equipment Service in England, Scotland or Wales. We have partnered with the innovative social enterprise Community Catalysts to help us deliver something different.

Whether you want to benchmark your service against best practice standards, reimagine how the service could develop, or simply take stock of where you are, a Share the Journey Project Team could be the answer.

Medequip and Community Catalysts will offer your organisation support, bringing in dedicated people with specialist skills once you agree. You would also be expected to enable key staff to participate. People using the service and local community groups should be included too.

What’s the catch I hear you say. What’s in it for Medequip?

No catch. We just all learn a bit from each other and improve things for people who use our services. I have committed Medequip to its own journey of improvement and I think there is a lot of learning out there and a lot of good stuff Medequip and Community Catalysts can contribute.

The simple application process is explained in more detail in the newsletter, along with stories from people who work for Medequip, suppliers, partners and people who are helping us improve.

I hope you will consider this offer and if you want an informal chat about how this might work for you, please drop me a line.

David Griffiths, Managing Director, Medequip
d.griffiths@medequip-uk.com

Share the Journey - get involved
Date:

Medequip and Community Catalysts - Already Sharing the Journey

Medequip and Community Catalysts

"We were first approached by Medequip just over a year ago with a view to sharing expertise on community, personalisation and coproduction. I must admit that initially, we approached the concept with some level of healthy scepticism. We were wary of how our ethos and values could integrate with a large corporate, how we could maintain the focus on people and communities and make them central to the partnership."

"Our scepticism was short-lived. It quickly became obvious that the Medequip team was working hard to develop itself and its approach, driven by strong values and a commitment to customer service.

A year on and we have just completed a key piece of work, helping Medequip to consider and develop their feedback process, using a coproduction approach. This involved creating a group bringing together users of equipment, their families and equipment prescribers, building opportunities for Medequip to hear the real voices of people using the equipment on a day to day basis. The new feedback system that has emerged from this process is now being tested and in the future will hopefully play an important role in helping Medequip and their commissioners to listen to these voices when they consider the services they provide.

The importance of this work is effectively illustrated by Isaac Samuels, a member of this group and a freelance coproduction adviser, who writes about his experiences here.

We are confident that the Medequip team is genuine in their desire to coproduce and hear people’s voices. As a partner in the Share the Journey project, we at Community Catalysts look forward to working closely with the project team to identify the chosen initiatives and to provide input and mentoring support over the course of the project.”

Angela Catley, Director of Development for Community Catalysts

Other work has included helping Medequip to identify and connect with disabled people, organisations and community groups in areas where they are tendering for contracts, to help them to fully understand individual and local requirements and issues. Our work with Community Catalysts is proving invaluable, stated David Griffths, Managing Director for Medequip. Their experience and credibility creates an important bridge between the people, communities and the voluntary and statutory sectors, and we are constantly learning from their connections with people with lived experience.

Share the Journey - get involved
Date:

Share the Journey - Accora and Age UK

Share the Journey - Accora and Age UK

Richard Smith, Sales Director for medical equipment manufacturers Accora, talks about the company’s link-up with Age UK in Cambridge in the shape of a ‘Listeners’ initiative to befriend and communicate with older people.

"There were a number of contributing factors behind our decision to move forward with a planned CSR programme. Alongside our own desire to add social value and the need to demonstrate our commitment in tenders and other documents, we were encouraged and supported by Medequip, a key customer for Accora, who shared expertise and knowledge with us to help get our initiative under way.

With a network of technicians and representatives across the country, we looked initially at a national initiative, but made the decision to partner with our local Age UK to ensure we could begin by delivering and monitoring something meaningful and commercially viable.

Our ‘Listeners’ befriending programme makes best use of our Support Centre staff, who have specialist skills in telephone techniques and proven abilities to communicate well. In addition, it effectively cuts the shackles of geography and provides us with a foundation which we can extend into other operational areas in the future.

We began the programme with our local Cambridge team, using an allocated percentage of their time to conduct outbound telephone calls to elderly people in the area identified by Age UK. This initiative is working well and proving rewarding, both for our staff and for the local residents they are now chatting with on a regular basis.

One of the great advantages for Accora has been how much the team is enjoying this part of their work, and how well received it has been. Recent feedback has been encouraging, with our staff reporting as follows.

Calls are usually around 30 minutes every Wednesday at 10am which I find easy to fit in with my day job. My service user match looks forward to the calls and has fed back to Age UK that she is happy to continue as am I. It’s a very rewarding call to make!"

Jo, Accora

"I called Allen at 11am this morning – we had a really lovely chat for 30mins and covered quite a lot! I really enjoyed the call and look forward to speaking to him again."

Tanya, Accora

"Once our befriending ‘Listeners’ programme has had a little more time and gained more experience, we plan to look at how we extend this across a wider geographical area, hopefully again in partnership with Age UK in different parts of the country."

Richard Smith, Accora Ltd
Share the Journey - get involved
Date:

Share the Journey - Jade's Story

Share the Journey - Jades Story

From being a person with lived experience, to becoming a member of the Medequip team

Growing up

When I was just 15 years old, I had to have a massive operation on my legs where I needed a Medequip hospital bed, commode and a few other items.

Medequip was super! They delivered all the equipment that was needed for me after my operation. They delivered it on the day of my surgery to make sure it was all in and ready for my hospital discharge.

Once I got home from the hospital, I was thankful for having the bed. As I couldn’t lay down flat, I was happy to have the bed so I could go to sleep comfortably sat up.

Once 6 weeks had passed and I was able to weight bare again, we sent some of the equipment back to Medequip and it was perfect. It was all collected on the date they had given.

Once I was able to weight bare, I then had a different delivery of grab rails and shower stool.

I kept the bed for a few years, just so that I could use the ‘sit up’ function. With every year that passed, they booked it in for a service, to make sure everything was perfect with the bed, which it was!

Once I was ready to get rid of the bed, we simply phoned up our local depot and booked the bed in for collection. It was so easy to do!

A few years later

I managed to get an interview at my local Medequip. I was nervous to start with, but once I was there, I felt comfortable.

After the interview had ended, I was asked when I could start - I was so pleased with myself getting a job as I was finding it hard whilst being in a wheelchair.

I was given 2 weeks training for the job, which made me feel very welcome and got me used to doing everything we need to do on the computers.

Since the training, I noticed that you still learn something new every day, and if you get stuck there is always someone to ask!

It is a great pleasure to be working with an amazing team that all work together to help each other.

I can’t thank Medequip and the people that I work with enough for taking me on for who I am.

Share the Journey - get involved
Share the Journey - get involved
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