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Sandwell ‘Blue Light’ Project nominated for two public health awards

The Sandwell ‘Blue Light’ Project has been nominated for two awards: The Guardian Public Health & Wellbeing Award 2019 and the RSPH Healthier Lifestyles Award 2019.

The Blue Light Project in Sandwell supports people who have significant and longstanding issues with alcohol misuse. Support is coordinated across a range of different agencies including substance misuse services, NHS, police, probation and housing teams. An evaluation has shown that it leads to improved outcomes for individuals and significant savings across the system. The Cranstoun Group has been involved since the early development of the Blue Light Project and provides the alcohol and drug services in Sandwell.

Annie Steele, our Director of Operations, said: “We are really pleased to work with colleagues as part of the Blue Light partnership approach in Sandwell. This partnership successfully works together to produce a multiagency response to an individual’s needs, helping them to make the changes they need to lead healthier, safer and happier lives.”

About the awards

  • The Guardian’s Public Health & Wellbeing Award is for public service projects and teams that have made significant improvements to people’s physical or mental health and wellbeing.
  • The Healthier Lifestyles Award recognises the effectiveness of projects and programmes that improve the lifestyles of the most vulnerable and supports people to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Discovery and new beginnings

Discovery and new beginnings Cranstoun

Clare Maryan, Director of Development and Innovation
Discovery and new beginnings Cranstoun Discovery and new beginnings Cranstoun

For me, September is about new beginnings. It’s like that first page of a new notebook – crisp, clean and begging for neatness. Working for Cranstoun, there are new beginnings found in multiple places – a new business planning and financial year, a new contract start, a new intervention. More so, our unrelenting principle that every service user has the ability and potential to lead the life they want no matter how many times it takes.

Cranstoun has been empowering people to live healthy, safe and happy lives for 50 years. When you combine that history with the individual assets of our people, you get an organisation bursting with knowledge, experience and ideas. This is great news for me, given my job title! However, Cranstoun is still just 50 years young – we must continue to grow to better meet the needs of those we exist for. That is as important today as it was in 1969. Our Cranstoun leaf – for those who have always wondered about the formation of those orange dots – symbolises organic growth for the organisation and its people, staff and service users alike. As we take steps to fulfil our vision and mission, every Cranstoun service user is taking steps towards theirs.

Each journey is one of discovery, and so ‘discovery’ is exactly what we decided to call our new behavioural change platform. We think it’s a great name as it means something to us all – no matter who we are and what role we have to play. ‘Discovery’ has three phases:

  1. ‘My life’ seeks to both understand the person and for each person to better understand themselves.
  2. ‘My world’ explores and navigates change and builds connections.
  3. ‘My future’ provides the skills to move on and evolve towards the life each person envisages.

It will be delivered by our trained staff who help individuals to visualise what that life is, build belief that they can reach it and support with the steps to help get them there. Our Discovery platform draws together the best group work interventions from across Cranstoun and externally, all supported by an extensive evidence base. We will be rolling it out across all existing services and including it in future services.

We are excited about this particular new beginning, not least because it’s a direct result of what we do best – putting our people at the heart of what we do. This holds true to how we work as a charity – one that I’m proud to work for. But we won’t stop there, it’s our collective continual discovery here at Cranstoun that keeps us all ambitious.

Sutton awards Cranstoun contract to lead domestic abuse partnership

Sutton council has awarded Cranstoun the contract to lead the borough’s specialist domestic abuse partnership, Transform. Transform incorporates local organisations, each bringing their unique skills and experience in domestic abuse to deliver support for the borough’s communities:

The service, commencing on 1 November 2019, will reduce risk levels for victims/survivors, children and families while effecting real change in the incidence of domestic abuse by perpetrators. Transform will enable people in Sutton to identify abuse and know what to do if they or their family or friends become a victim of domestic abuse or are concerned about their own behaviour.

The range of services includes:

  • Assessment and support for victims and children
  • Assessment and support for perpetrators
  • Women’s refuge and floating support
  • Offering support to children in schools
  • Working with health providers to establish referral pathways
  • Targeting services to the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups

Our service provision will be strengthened by a network of partner relationships including GPs, hospitals, probation, police, courts, homeless services, social care, substance abuse, mental health, sexual health and education, training and employment providers.

Leader of Sutton Council, Cllr Ruth Dombey, said: “We are ambitious for Sutton to remain a great place to live, work and raise a family and we recognise we have more to do to make this a reality for our most vulnerable residents. That is why we are focusing on both reducing domestic abuse and also improving our ability to look after and guarantee the safety of victims, survivors and their children.”

Read our joint announcement here.

Swanswell West Berks (Newbury) rated ‘Good’ in latest CQC report

We’re delighted to announce Swanswell West Berkshire, our substance misuse service for adults living in West Berkshire, has received an overall ‘Good’ CQC rating.

The CQC inspection team carried out a thorough assessment of several aspects of the service, including speaking to service users and staff, observing an alcohol detox assessment, and reviewing care records for our clients.

Our people are at the heart of what we do, so we are particularly pleased about the following feedback:

The service user representative told us that staff were responsive and supported clients well. They described how engaging with the service had enabled them and their peers to achieve positive changes in their lives.

Sian Orton, service manager at Swanswell West Berkshire, said, “We are pleased with the rating and report as it demonstrates our commitment to providing safe and caring services for our service users. We are a small service with big ambition, and with organisational and local support have managed to help more people across West Berkshire live healthy, safe and happy lives. We will continue to be responsive to our service users’ needs and ensure any areas of potential improvement are acted upon.  As a team, we feel this report is reflective of all our hard work and are delighted to be able to share it with you. I would just like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to the team who, on a daily basis, are dedicated to enabling positive change amongst our service users.”

Read the full report here.

The Cranstoun Group joins digital channels

We’re excited to announce Swanswell has joined Cranstoun’s website and social media channels.

Swanswell became part of the Cranstoun Group in December 2016. By joining the two charities in this exciting partnership, we consolidated our operations and shared our knowledge and experience to enhance and develop high-quality services for service users, their families, and the wider community.

Service users have always been at the heart of both organisations and our shared vision, mission and values reflect this strengthening the Cranstoun Group for the future.

Now is the right time to join digital channels; the Cranston Group can communicate with key audiences more effectively and develop online support and resources for service users.

Access Swanswell’s new online home at cranstoun.org/swanswell

Co-production is more than a concept – it’s a core strategic aim

Co-production is more than a concept – it’s a core strategic aim Cranstoun

Wendy Taylor, Director of Operations
Co-production is more than a concept – it’s a core strategic aim Cranstoun

Co-production is the coming together of two sides of the same coin – service users and providers – to improve existing services and develop new ones. It is the meeting of ideas that respect the diverse experiences of those involved by creating an environment of equal partnership.

So what does that mean in practice? Co-production goes far beyond consultation and therefore must inform and challenge providers’ beliefs and values. It can also challenge the value service users place on their personal experience and knowledge, in the hope that it is not only recognised but also put to far greater use.

Providers need to believe that to deliver services people want to use, they must involve service users at every level of delivery, from design to evaluation. In turn, service users need to believe that their experience and input is vitally important in providing good quality services.

In my experience, staff are usually very open to co-production and embrace its main principle of an equal partnership with service users. Others can be resistant, nervous about embarking on a different kind of relationship with service users.

Cranstoun’s approach is to ensure all staff understand the benefits of co-production and how it differs to service user participation. It is worth reading this comprehensive report which includes good examples of co-production.

Providing training on co-production creates strong leadership throughout the organisation. To establish a consistent approach, we have reviewed all organisational governance processes to ensure service users are involved in service development and decision-making at all levels.

Service users may be familiar with sharing their story with others, but co-producing services means articulating and using their experience differently. Using lived experience to influence service delivery is a skill in itself and one that needs nurturing with the right support and guidance. Providing mentoring support is key to getting service users involved.

Supporting service users in this way is as important as getting buy-in from staff teams. Both are required to change the culture of the organisation, which, along with organisational structures that allow equal partnerships, creates an environment where co-production can flourish.

However, it’s easy to be complacent. To ensure success, there must also be an open and honest review process built into the system; any learning should inform continuous improvement, and so the cycle continues.

Co-production is a no-brainer. The resource it takes to set up and deliver is far outweighed by improved service user outcomes, making the gains for everyone immeasurable. Now that’s got to be worth it.

Resilience rated ‘Good’ in latest CQC report

We’re delighted to announce Resilience, our substance misuse service in Windsor and Maidenhead, has received an overall ‘Good’ CQC rating.

The CQC inspection team carried out a thorough assessment of several aspects of the service, including looking at the quality of the environment, speaking to service users, staff, volunteers and commissioners, looking at records, policies and procedures, and attending a group therapy session.

Our people are at the heart of what we do, so we are particularly pleased about the following feedback:

We spoke with five clients during our inspection. All spoke highly of the service and praised the support they received from staff. Clients felt that staff treated them with kindness, dignity and respect. They told us that staff were non-judgemental and that this encouraged them to be open and honest with staff and that they felt they could trust them. Clients we spoke with all attended groups at the service, which they unanimously agreed had a positive impact on their lives and helped aid their recovery. Clients told us they met with their key workers frequently and that they felt involved in their care planning.

Geena Virdi, service manager at Resilience, said, “The CQC report has been a delight for myself and my team at Resilience. We are all proud of the service that we deliver and this report reinforces the hard work, determination and responsive attitude of our service and organisation. It was humbling to read how supported and safe our service users feel when accessing the support we offer, as well as the healthy workplace culture within our team. Will continue this hard work and strive to develop our service moving forward. I’d like to say a big thank you to the Resilience team for working as hard as they do on a daily basis and making positive changes in the lives of our service users.”

Read the full report here.

Investing in care, quality and governance

Investing in care, quality and governance Cranstoun

Jason Warriner, Director of Care, Quality and Governance
Investing in care, quality and governance Cranstoun Investing in care, quality and governance Cranstoun

When talking about quality and governance, one of my most frequent sayings is, ‘show me an organisation that claims to have no incidents and no complaints and I will show you a failing organisation’. To me, if an organisation claims the above, it speaks volumes about its leadership, culture, processes and systems.

A culture of openness, transparency and learning ensures the safety of service users and staff alongside the provision of high quality and effective care. An organisational and integrated approach to governance and safety is vital.  Separating governance into silos can cause duplication, build in unnecessary processes and hinder the sharing of learning and feedback. Looking back over the last 25 years when clinical governance was a key driver in the NHS, we probably didn’t realise at the time that this would pave the way for today’s ways of working and approaches to safety and quality.

When you look at the charity sector it can feel at times that we are over-regulated; we have the Charity Commission, CQC and Information Commissioner’s Office to name a few. Understanding the roles of these organisations and why they exist is key to ensuring compliance and consistency across the sector.

Over the last year, a few of our services have been inspected by the CQC. We are consistently receiving positive feedback and ratings of ‘good’. This confirms to us that we are providing safe, effective, caring and well-led services that respond to individual needs.

There are many different views on whether inspection works. For us, it’s about using inspections and associated feedback as an opportunity to develop and improve. Ensuring that we promote privacy, dignity and respect are the fundamentals of care. The CQC is here to stay, and an external view can provide us with a reality check to make sure we are doing what we say and safeguarding the needs of our service users.

At Cranstoun, we believe that governance should enable innovation, service development and service improvement. The quality and governance team is a support service, working in partnership across the organisation to ensure that we do the best for our service users. Governance should never be used to hinder or prevent change or as a reason not to do something – it is about driving things forward in a way that promotes collaboration, learning and visible leadership.

During the next year, our quality, governance and safety agenda will continue to grow and evolve. Energising our approach to quality, safety and governance alongside demonstrating compassionate leadership will drive our work forward enabling us to meet any challenges on the horizon. Our focus is not only on meeting the requirements of regulatory bodies but taking the next steps in our journey to provide the best services possible for people who need them the most.

Stocktaking and adaptation – it’s all part of the process

Stocktaking and adaptation – it’s all part of the process Cranstoun

Peter Glass, Executive Director of Operations

We recently, as we often do, took stock of Cranstoun’s whole-system integrated services. ‘Stocktaking’ is part of ongoing performance management and development, a continual process applied throughout the lifetime of any contract. Even with this mature and robust framework in place, general reporting cycles of KPIs or outcome and output data can fail to recognise some of the more macro aspects of delivering whole-system services, as well as the wider panacea of service evolution, often spanning up to five years. This is one of the reasons Cranstoun developed and continues to refine its Mobilisation, Implementation, Transformation, Exit (MITE) framework, a tool within our governance structure that considers wider operational aspects linked to service development.

While integrated services contain common core elements, each offers individualised, unique aspects that are significant both in the immediate locality and in relation to building an extensive collection of ‘what works best’. For example, in our countywide service across Worcestershire, which covers both rural and urban populations, the latest (Q4) NDTMS completions report shows significant improvement since the contract started on 1 April 2015:

  • Opiates improved from 4.8% to 8.5%
  • Non-opiates improved by 21%
  • Alcohol improved by 22%

Since implementation, PHE data analysis shows the following improvements in numbers accessing in-house Hep C treatment:

  • A substantial reduction in ‘did not attends’ (90+% to 20%)
  • An increase in treatment numbers (0 p/month to 3 p/month)
  • A reduction in test-to-treatment time (12 weeks+ to 8 weeks)

Since embedding the shared care service across Worcestershire, the service has seen an increase of 32% in prescribed clients accessing shared care.

In its 50th year, Cranstoun remains a leader in the sector; we have learnt a lot from our wide-ranging current and historical portfolios. While our approach will always be to learn and evolve, each service we manage assumes a local focus, seeking to co-produce, partner and complement local strategic and operational plans, systems and processes. Demography and geography are perhaps obvious factors within the planning and delivery for each service, but it’s when we start to consider other layers of overall operational and support requirements that we see a more representative picture of the sheer complexity of the task at hand.

People who use our services often present with a range of issues – homelessness, significant physical and mental health problems, contact with the criminal justice system, debt, to name a few. Indeed the whole sector has witnessed higher levels of presenting complexity over the last ten to 15 years. What particularly strikes me is how, despite deep and enduring financial constraints, there is sustained momentum to continually strive to improve and try new and innovative approaches.

Cranstoun’s Brighton and Hove service, Pavilions represents an excellent, real multi-agency partnership where Cranstoun is the lead organisation. Examples include:

  • Prescription collection – we have changed the culture from one where clients collected their prescription from pharmacies to collecting it from Pavilions. 70% of clients engaged better with one to one appointments than previously.
  • Mobile needle exchange – by providing needle exchange on the streets we have doubled engagement rates of the number of people rough sleeping and using the night shelter who have entered treatment as a result of a needle exchange interaction over the past nine months.
  • Peer-led group work – the totally peer-led ‘Speakeasy’ group is an excellent example of co-production, running five days per week with 65 regular attendees.

There are similar threads across all of Cranstoun’s services, with many excellent illustrations of how our provision evolves. By utilising co-production as a cornerstone of design and by ensuring relevancy and flexibility with built-in review periods, we create an environment that accommodates an adaptive and dynamic development process.

Annual Service User Survey 2018-19

We carried out our annual service user survey across Cranstoun Group services from December 2018 to February 2019. The survey was open to all service users in any type of treatment, from drop-in attendees to service users in long-term structured treatment.

We received 1348 responses across 15 services, including seven adult community substance misuse services, four young peoples’ community substance misuse services, one residential service, one supported housing service, one family and carers service and one family and carers team.

Here are a few of the key results:

The highest scoring question was on staff friendliness (9.6/10).
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The most commonly given score was 10 out of 10.
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Service users find our most helpful treatments/activities to be key work sessions, group sessions and prescribing.
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The most common positive outcomes experienced by our service users are abstinence, less use, and prescription.
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The top three words used to describe Cranstoun services were safe, happy and supported.
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97.7% of service users said they would recommend their service.


In response to the survey, we also received some fantastic feedback from our service users:

All I wish to say is please keep going, as there are so many others needing help out there. I’ve still got a long way to go as well – it’s a life saver. Good luck to all the staff and the organisation. We need you.

– East Sussex FACT

Just a big thank you!! West Hill has given me back safety and security, plus my independence. I’m looking forward to working on my problems positively and overcoming them, and becoming a clean and well-balanced working member of society!

– West Hill & Ritherdon Road

Thank you so much. You’re all very professional, understanding, knowledgeable and emphathetic. An amazing service.

– Pavilions FACT

I feel very grateful to have had this opportunity for change. Thank you for being in my life.

– Inspire Sutton

Thank you for saving my life and for the love that I feel coming here, which is very important when you’re lonely.

– Swanswell West Berkshire

Click here to read the full service user survey report.