Specialist expertise and the value of in-house support
Trish Lee, pictured here) Chief Executive Officer at Keys Group, discusses how specialist in-house support can help care providers overcome difficult challenges and enhance the services they offer.
As anyone working in health and social care will know, difficult problems require expert-led, targeted solutions. But it is too often the case in the sector that the same traditional methods are applied to problems requiring a more considered, careful and innovative approach. How can this innovative approach be put into practice?
I have found that in-house specialist support is an excellent place to start. This requires hiring expert specialists and using their knowledge to help staff overcome presenting challenges and to deliver tailored support adapted to the complex and sensitive needs of the individuals you support. At Keys Group, we have four in-house specialists working in the areas of: police liaison, substance misuse, self-injurious behaviours and behaviour management, and child exploitation. Not only does their expertise help our staff and the young people we support, it also helps us to improve our relationships with other agencies and our local communities.
Steve Challinor, our in-house Police Liaison Specialist Support Advisor, in particular has helped to strengthen our community ties. As a retired police officer, Steve has a unique understanding of how the police force operates and he has helped us to gain a comprehensive perspective of how communication might be improved between staff and local police forces. The police sometimes struggle to show an appreciation of the complex psychological issues that young people in care might be facing with unintended consequences for the young person, the wider community and the police force itself. Likewise, staff involved in caring for looked after young people may lack an understanding of the demands and resource limitations that front-line police officers must deal with. Again, with the unintended consequence that, police may be called upon inappropriately by care staff, causing frustration among local front-line police officers.
This is where Steve’s expertise comes in. The police are now much better informed of the nature and workings of our specialist schools and homes, and how vitally important stability is for the progress and welfare of the young people who study and live in them. His work has so far resulted in a forty percent reduction in police interventions in Keys Group homes from March 2018 to March 2019. This increased understanding and co-operation has undoubtedly improved the quality of life of our young people and bolstered our community relationships.
The value of tailored expertise cannot be underestimated whether that be the expertise of a retired police officer in a residential home for young people or the expertise of a dementia specialist in a residence for elderly people who require day-to-day assistance. Not only do these specialists have their own unique skills, but their permanent position as in-house advisors allows them to build up long term, sustained relationships with both staff and the individuals being supported.
Area-specific expertise in the care sector can seamlessly complement and add value to the existing services provided. At Keys Group, our advisors have certainly helped us to build on our four EPIC values – Excellence, Passion, Integrity and Caring – while delivering vital assistance to the young people we support. I would encourage all care providers to consider the merits of introducing in-house specialist support, to enhance your existing services and deliver truly exceptional care.