• Kate Allen, CE end of year update – with some very good news!

    Kate Allen Chief ExecutiveAnd so we approach the end of 2021… Most of us thought the Covid situation would be different this Christmas, and whilst it isn’t quite as we had hoped, it is an improved position to last year.

    However, the Omicron transmission rates are worrying, with the greatest of concerns on the impact and consequences – both still largely unknown.

    Organisationally, we are experiencing some difficulties with staffing cover as we are typically seeing 2 or 3 positive cases across the organisation amongst staff at any one time, which isn’t high, but comes alongside increasing instances of self-isolation pending test results and much needed holiday and rest time for our staff. However, I am constantly proud of our workforce as they rally together to cover shifts and ensure as best they can that people we support are prioritised, often to the detriment of their own needs and plans to spend time with families. I cannot thank them enough.

    Mandatory vaccination will be introduced for some staff with effect from April 2022, however ahead of that we continue to push hard the Government’s advice on getting jabbed for protection, with vaccination rates over 84%.  As demand for vaccinations has increased, we’ve distributed a letter to all employees this week that gives priority for boosters and vaccinations at sites were queues were forming. With a copy of the letter those working in adult social care don’t need to queue and can instead take a priority place ahead of others.

    As recruitment across the social care sector continues to be a challenge it was welcomed news that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that the Government place support and care workers on the shortage occupation list. Their report is an important one and our understanding is that MAC recommendations are usually adopted, which would be good news for the sector. We have a number of recruitment campaigns underway and it has been encouraging to see some staff returning to us recently. It is reassuring that whilst it has been a hard year, the Kingwood culture and values remain and other organisations don’t care as much as we do about our staff as well as people we support. We aren’t perfect, but we do try hard and we do listen.

    Which brings me to the best news, that I have saved for last……

    We have been fighting tirelessly for social care staff to receive better pay through improved social care funding. I greatly welcomed the Government’s announcement to increase the National Living Wage to £9.50 next April 2022 and will be discussing with local authority commissioners how that will be funded. However, ahead of that, Autism at Kingwood has taken the big step to increase pay for our frontline Support Workers by 4% with effect from January 1st 2022. There will be further increases applied in April, for Support Workers (at least another 3%), Support Managers, Area Managers and for our other non-operational employees.

    I’ve knowingly set myself and the Leadership & Management Teams a big challenge as we step into 2022, of negotiating with commissioners to secure funding. But we had to take action. Our support workers have worked tirelessly, diligently and conscientiously to keep autistic people safe, happy and healthy. They deserved more and I know everyone will agree with that.

    I wish you all the best Christmas that is possible and rejoice in that we are here to enjoy it.

    Kate

    Philippa Stannard

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