Profile – Roy, Manchester
This is demonstrated very clearly by how it seeks to involve its service users in its own staff recruitment, right up to the most senior levels of management. This is achieved by inviting service users to participate in all the initial group interviews and in the final selection interviews. Creative Support is unique as a company in my experience, by letting their service users have a real say in who they would like to support them, who they want to let into their homes. They have been very successful in encouraging their service users to achieve their own full potential and live independent lives by providing a whole range of services that allow them to do just that.
Day to day support is provided in well run projects and through outreach support in the service users’ own homes.
Creative Support has a holiday home in Bowness-on-Windermere called Howe Top. Although, to call it a holiday home is an inadequate expression to describe Howe Top, it really is like a deluxe hotel, very comfortable, beautifully furnished and a joy to stay in. I know this because I have stayed there myself!
A Cyber Café in the very centre of Manchester provides wonderful and inexpensive food, a friendly atmosphere and free use of computers, as well as computer tuition from very a basic level to advanced. There are also groups for art, cookery, creative writing, drama and photography, as well as a walking group. At certain times it is possible to have your hair styled, nails manicured and a relaxing massage in the Breakthrough area, for a very small charge.
All these services have changed many service users’ lives for the better and allowed them, and myself, to do and achieve things we had only ever dreamed of.
In my experience, there is no group of people in the community who Creative Support is not prepared to help, encourage and empower, whether that be service users with learning disabilities, mental health needs, Afro Caribbean or Asian service users who need help and support, single homeless mothers, homeless young people or service users who have had contact with drugs and the criminal justice system, older service users with physical and mental health needs and service users who need support in their own homes, for a variety of reasons, so that they can enjoy an independent life.
I hope this will give you in some small way an understanding of what Creative support does and what it is about. To me it is an excellent company.
Involvement in Quality Audits
Soon after Creative Support started supporting me I saw a notice on the notice board in the Cyber Café in Manchester asking for service user volunteers to join the quality audit team. I didn’t know an awful lot about the company at the time and I thought it would be a good way to see what the company offered. Also, I thought it would give me the opportunity to meet a wider range of service users, like those who don’t come to the Cyber Café or who live in other parts of the country and also to meet the staff and see how they work and what drives them.
For the service user role in the audit team, my attitude is to go in with a friendly face, to meet people face-to-face, chat with service users and find out if they are happy living where they live and happy with the support they are being given. You can be in a project where they look after you, where everything is provided but you can still be unhappy. To me it is important that someone is happy and content and that people are encouraged and motivated to reach their maximum potential. I also feel that if they know they are talking to someone who doesn’t work for the company they are more able and willing to talk frankly. We talk about the house, staff, support, food and what they want to do with their lives, and all this is fed into the system and then it is up to the company to judge whether the company is working along the right lines or whether they should or could be doing something else to make it better. That’s my role. I am there for the people.
I have learnt an awful lot from doing this. We have had really good Quality Managers and I have learnt from doing audits with them. I have felt that I have been on a learning curve and that’s what I have enjoyed as well. Also, I meet people at the projects and then I might see them at Howe Top or they might come to the Cyber Café and there is that social contact and social interaction with people, which I enjoy.
Involvement in Interviews
From my experience, Creative Support is quite unique as a company in actually involving their own service users in having a say in the people they employ. I recently helped to interview for a Service Director and at the end of the interview Anna Lunts, the Chief Executive, turned to me and said “is that the kind of person you would like in your home?”. I have never been involved in a company where my opinion has been asked before.
Service users have equality, so at the end of the interviews they have an equal say with the other panel members. It’s funny, in all the interviews I have taken part in, I have never disagreed with the panel, it is like we are all looking for the same things, the same ways of working. We must be on the same wave length as we always seem to agree, but everyone has an equal say.