This was our first full year of operating as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) with a new identity. An almost entirely new Board of Trustees was formed in September last year and this has been a year of continued development, building on the learning gained from the period following our initial changeover. Below are just some of the highlights of the last year.
Graeme Nisbet, Chair
Our Working Groups have grown in numbers and strength, particularly as more carers get involved. Pictured are members of the User Carer Working Group, who welcomed representatives from the Connected Care project, NHS Borders Pharmacy Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service among others to meetings during the year.
Celebrating Carers Week
In 2014, we held our first event to celebrate Carers Week, which proved to be a great success. Another similar event followed in 2015. Speakers included dementia activist Tommy Whitelaw, and representatives from Playlist for Life, the Coalition of Carers in Scotland, and local carers' organisations. More than 80 carers, service users and providers attended each time and enjoyed presentations, workshops and leisure activities. We now plan to hold Carers Week events every year.
Delivering dementia training
Last autumn, Borders Care Learning Network (BCLN) piloted a roll-out of the dementia training developed by NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council. After talks with Scottish Borders Council, it was agreed that we would run a concentrated programme of dementia training. By the end of the 2014-2015 financial year, 215 people across all sectors had accessed the training. Find out more. We look forward to working with SBCares to see where we can support their training needs going forward.
Leaving ... but staying
Meg Roper stepped down as Mental Health Development worker, a role which she carried out with great skill and expertise for more than five years. We are delighted, though, that she has remained in her BCLN post and is looking at ways to continue to develop our training services and offer new courses to meet demands.
Welcoming a new face
The new Mental Health Development Worker came into post in June. Shirley Barrett has settled well into the role and brings a fresh perspective, as well as new experiences, skills and connections. Shirley was already known to many of our colleagues and partners as she is also employed by Scottish Borders Council, working within Joint Health Improvement on Suicide Prevention. We are grateful to SBC for fully funding this post, enabling us to increase the hours.
Listening to our members
We piloted a new style of Member’s Network in 2014, with meetings in Peebles and Foulden. After listening to members' views, we have looked at developing the model, particularly to help our provider members to become more involved in our work and in local developments in health and social care.
We have supported the involvement and participation of service users, carers and third sector providers in discussions about a wide range of relevant developments, including health and social care integration, social work charging, and the mental health needs assessment.
We said goodbye to Mary Daykin, who retired from her role with BCLN this year, and from her position as Support Worker for Live a Life (formerly People First) at the end of 2014. Her cheery demeanour has been missed by us all, and her absence will be especially obvious at Christmas!
We have worked hard to improve how we communicate. A monthly E-news was piloted and then mainstreamed. It has received great feedback and now goes out each month to more than 500 recipients in the Borders and further afield. Our website and social media channels have continued to grow, allowing us to communicate quickly and effectively with members and other stakeholders.
Ensuring access to quality training
As more care provision is externalised, we need to ensure that staff in the third and independent care sectors have the same access to quality training and Continuing Professional Development that statutory colleagues have. Borders Care Learning Network has continued to expand its programme and to promote training provided by others.From January to August 2015, 433 attendees took part in BCLN training courses. More than 90% said they thought the training would have an effect on their working practice. Find out more.
Making information accessible
We have continued to offer training to staff and volunteers on creating accessible information and to act as a ‘critical friend’ to statutory and third sector partners on their key publications and promotional materials. We will continue to offer this feedback.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum has consistently been very well attended. One of its achievements this year was a Consultation Cafe to prioritise the recommendations of the Mental Health Needs Assessment. Welfare benefits continue to be a key topic of discussion, and the group has also discussed Self-directed Support, medication and prescriptions, and health inequalities.
Getting feedback from providers
In February 2015, we decided to conduct an online survey of care providers, to get feedback about our training courses. We previously undertook face to face audits, but they are very time consuming, so this was an additional questionnaire to test the water about doing this in a more time-effective way. It revealed that there was uptake across the full range of courses and mandatory, management and vocational courses were all accessed. Find out more.
Welcoming new carers
The Carers Planning Group was delighted to welcome a number of new carers as members. Among the issues discussed by the group were duplication of carers assessment systems. the need to review and refresh the Borders Carers Strategy, and the new Carers Bill.
Giving parents a voice
The Parent Carer Working Group, facilitated in partnership with the Borders Carers Centre, is now meeting every two months instead of every month. It welcomed a number of guest speakers over the year and held a Family Fun Day in 2014. Scottish Borders Council's Integrated Children’s Services have agreed that the group will be the focal point for consultations on children and young people’s services.