Northumberland support service rated '˜outstanding' by inspectors

A service that helps people regain their independence and recover in their own homes after an accident or illness has been rated as outstanding across the whole of Northumberland.

Tuesday, 12th June 2018, 9:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th June 2018, 8:31 pm
Northumberland County Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for Adult Wellbeing and Health; Short Term Support Service (Alnwick) deputy team manager Gail Cooper; and Short Term Support Service (Alnwick) registered manager Sue Davison.

The Short Term Support Service is provided by Northumberland County Council and managed in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. This vital service not only helps people get safely back to their own homes and loved ones earlier, but also relieves pressure on the hospital system.

The service is inspected by the Care Quality Commission in four areas – Alnwick, Berwick, south-east Northumberland and west Northumberland – to ensure each service meets quality and safety standards.

Following an inspection of the Alnwick-based service published this week; all four areas are now rated as outstanding – the highest possible designation.

Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for Adult Wellbeing and Health, said: “I am delighted that our short-term support services in each of the four geographical areas have now all been rated as outstanding by the CQC inspectors.

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“This shows that people across the whole of Northumberland are benefiting from top quality services when they need a bit of extra help.

“This service provides support to people in their own homes at a time when they couldn’t manage on their own, so I am particularly pleased that people who use the service speak so highly of the staff.”

The CQC has previously inspected the services in Berwick, south-east Northumberland and west Northumberland and rated each as Outstanding.

In the report on the Alnwick-based service, inspectors described the service as exceptionally responsive to people’s individual needs and said they saw and heard how staff went above and beyond their role. Inspectors highlighted that during a period of bad weather and heavy snow staff had walked through the snow to reach people, ensuring they had basic needs like bread and milk, and fuel for their fires.

People who used the service described the staff as ‘fantastic’, ‘excellent’ and ‘very caring’ and said they ‘couldn’t have coped without them, especially at the beginning’.

North Short Term Support Service (Alnwick) registered manager Sue Davison said: “This rating is a testament to the dedicated, caring and professional staff who go out of their way to help people not only to recover but also to improve their quality of life.

“I am so pleased that the people of Northumberland are receiving consistently outstanding support in each of the four geographical areas and so proud of the staff who are providing this support.”

The service has its own team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, technical instructors and rehabilitation workers, so people have access to a range of therapists to help meet their needs. Staff also work closely with district nursing teams to ensure people and external organisation including local charities and support groups to ensure people achieve positive outcomes.

Debbie Westhead, deputy chief inspector of adult social care in the north, said: “The care being provided by North STSS Alnwick is outstanding.

“We heard, and found, many examples of how the service has gone above and beyond to provide person-centred care, with healthcare professionals and care staff alike commenting how flexible the service is in order to fully support people. We saw how the service had reviewed previous cases to identify areas of improvement and learn from them, alongside actively engaging with the people they supported to fully understand their needs and find out how they can continue to develop the service.

“Staff were well supported with an approachable management team, who looked to make the service work for both the people they supported and the staff that delivered the care. The service had excellent communication links with healthcare professionals, collaborating with them to improve people’s outcomes.

“This is a great example of how a service has focused on continuous improvement, using technology, an effective care integration model and hard work, to benefit the lives of the people it cares for.

“A fantastic achievement, well done.”