M C C H Society

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from M C C H Society is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

www.choicesupport.org.uk

1CHOICE SUPPORT |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Group Director of Operations
Mel Shad
The Beeches Forensic
Mental Health Service,
Maidstone
Founded in 1988, Choice Support provides services for
people with learning disabilities, mental health issues
and autism. Based in Maidstone, they provide care and
support, aiming to build independence for people who use
their range of services including, but not limited to, registered
care, supported living, community wellbeing and day services
and a range of social enterprises. In December 2018, Choice
Support completed a merger with mcch. Director of Operations
Mel Shad discusses how they have adopted an alternative
approach to supporting people, aiming to empower individuals
with a range of complex needs and to integrate them into their
community.
We provide unique, community-based services for people with learning disabilities,
autism and mental health issues. Our services build independence and help
integrate people into their local communities. Because a lot of our services are
based in accessible and mainstream environments, we remove the physical
barriers individuals feel may lie between them and engagement with their local
communities. For example, we encourage individuals to use local community
resources like leisure centres and libraries to build their confidence and develop
relationships.
We evolved out of the closure of long-stay hospitals, resettling people in the
community. Over time we grew and expanded across Kent and the neighbouring
counties. We established multidisciplinary approaches, supporting individuals with
FACTS ABOUT
CHOICE SUPPORT
»Group Director of Operations:
Mel Shad
»Founded in 1988
»Based in Maidstone, Kent
»Number of employees: 3,000
»People supported: 2,300
»Services: Providing services
for people with learning
disabilities, mental health
issues and autism
Choice Support
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| CHOICE SUPPORT
»Vision – A world where
everyone matters and
everyone cares
»Values – We care, we
respect, we learn, we
lead
a range of complex needs. Today,
we offer a diverse range of services,
working across the southeast. Our
recent merger with Choice Support
has provided us with national coverage
and a joint turnover of just under
£65million.
We offer wellbeing and job retention
services to help people into work,
before supporting them in their new
role. We aim to destigmatise mental
health issues, learning disabilities and
autism. In the past, individuals with
these challenges have been largely
ignored by society, but we actively
challenge this practice and provide
them with the support they need
to integrate safely and comfortably,
so they can fulfil their aspirations
and live full and rich lives. To this
end, our services are designed to
educate communities as a whole and
encourage inclusion.
We also provide specialist housing
services, with a dedicated housing
team designed to support people in
their tenancies alongside their support
service. We do this because we want
people to have safe and homely
environments to live in while they
build their skills and move towards
independence. We have extensive
development experience, designing
and building dedicated services for
people with a range of needs and
have won awards for our innovative
buildings. To maximise choice and
control, we work directly with families
and individuals and design services to
meet their individual needs, utilising
personal budgets.
Our vision and values
Our ethos is built on a vision of a world
in which all people, regardless of their
disabilities, are treated equally and
fairly. We are a caring organisation
that welcomes all people, no matter
their background or circumstance.
We believe that people who access
our services aspire to achieve the
same things as anyone else in society:
to have somewhere to live, to do
something fulfilling and to have
someone to do things with. With our
support, we hope individuals accessing
our services will achieve this.
Empowerment is a crucial aspect of our
service and we provide our people with
the tools to achieve what is important
to them. Personalisation can be an
overused term in social care, but we
are committed to placing the individual
at the centre of their support, so they
can make informed choices about their
lives and achieve tangible outcomes.
Building relationships
underpins meaningful
support and individual
progress
We offer
wellbeing and
job retention
services to
help people
into work,
before
supporting
them in their
new role
3CHOICE SUPPORT |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
We include people who are important
to them in this process and develop a
circle of support within which they feel
safe and can succeed. We believe in
positive risk-taking and support people
to make informed decisions about
what they want to do and how they
want to do it. We believe in people
until they can believe in themselves.
We help people to take incremental
steps towards their identified
objectives, encouraging them to
achieve what they may have previously
viewed as impossible. Pushing their
limits and boundaries, but at their own
pace, enables individuals to achieve a
life they may have thought was out of
their reach. We build risk management
structures and safety nets around
people to help them do this.
Tackling stigmas
We face a number of challenges
as a care provider, but we are
always willing and able to respond
accordingly. Firstly, we work constantly
to improve understanding and
behaviour towards people who use our
services and strive to integrate people
into their communities to help with
this. The stigmas surrounding mental
health issues and learning disabilities
are hurtful and damaging and we aim
to reduce their prevalence in society.
Secondly, we are contracted to provide
services by statutory bodies such as
local authorities, CCGs and health
trusts. The last few years have been very
difficult for them and, by extension,
for us. We have seen funding levels
cut drastically year on year, with
an expectation for us to continue
to deliver services, but without the
commensurate funds to do so. We are
experiencing significant financial loss
as a result of these cuts and are having
to constantly try and make efficiencies
to respond; however, like many other
providers, we are reaching a stage
where there are no more efficiencies
to be made and service provision will
inevitably reduce or end as a result. It
is our view that we are going to reach
breaking point as a sector in the very
near future, and we are concerned
about what this will mean for people
needing services going forward.
Finally, the public’s understanding of
social care and its importance is a key
challenge. It’s hard to get behind us if
people don’t know who we are and
what we do. We work with people who
are often invisible and marginalised
and these groups aren’t always
recognised or popular in society, so
we have an uphill struggle to generate
public empathy andunderstanding.
We help
people to take
incremental
steps towards
their identified
objectives,
encouraging
them to
achieve what
they may have
previously
viewed as
impossible
Learning basic life skills,
helps people to manage
their own homes

www.choicesupport.org.uk

This article was sponsored by M C C H Society. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.