January Newsletter

  • By Ellie McDaniel
  • 02 Feb, 2016
By Rossella Kench 07 Jul, 2016
Our CEO - Keith Deane - has kindly answered a few questions on the future of Support Horizons, and we are all looking forward to working together on many new projects.

Question: Where do you see the company going?

Answer: 
Support Horizons has a great future and in some ways I feel honoured to be looking after what I call Tim's "baby". It's great to look back at the last ten years and just remind ourselves how far we have really come, from nothing to a £1.5 Million turnover delivering 1,600 hours per week of support, which is truly impressive.

Looking forward, we have been looking at more imaginative ideas around service delivery, and I see the business growing and diversifying into some new areas over the next few years.  This could include some private care, respite care, domiciliary houses and expansion outside Wokingham.  We have also looked at the possibility of morphing into more of a charity and building a volunteer base with more activities.  That said, this is all work in progress and no final decisions have been made, and it would be very interesting to know what staff and clients think about this too.


Question: What are the challenges that the company faces in the short term?

Answer:  Support Horizons is a not for profit social enterprise run by the clients and for the clients, so we don't make money in the conventional sense.  That said, we had a number of financial surprises that we need to make sure are eliminated moving forward, and this will be a core focus for our new Financial Controller.

In the summer, we are keen to enable pay-rises for staff that maintains our position as a premium payer in the local marketplace, with the highest possible delivery quality.  To do this we need to improve our efficiency and increase our support hours; we have done the former but support hours have stayed stubbornly static, so that's a major short-term focus.

The professionalization of the care industry and the work required on the Care Certificates is certainly a good thing for the sector but also has a cost implication.  I am very pleased that our new Care Certificate Boot-camp seems to have worked so well, and it is also a very cost-effective way of delivering a high-quality programme.  The last six months seem to have been spent "tidying up the back-yard", focusing on efficiency and robustness.  Getting a GOOD rating across all five new measurement areas in our CQC audit was a truly brilliant result but, moving forward our desire is to get at least one "Outstanding" rating the next time around, after all we are an outstanding business!


Question: What is the biggest challenge you face as a health and social care's company leader today?

Answer:  There is some great news on the horizon for Support Workers as the national minimum wage will push up rates of pay considerably over the next few years.  However, in contrast, our main funder is the council who are under increasing cost pressure from central government and the biggest reason for not increasing support hours has been recruitment.  These three things are our biggest challenges at present and we have been looking at more imaginative ways of getting round this, like an 'enhanced apprenticeship scheme' that we will launch soon, and enhanced referral schemes for current staff, diversifying into newer areas, improving our marketing presence and bidding for some specialist new business.

As a leader, for me it's all about engagement and communication, getting our staff and clients to understand and buy-in to what we are trying to achieve and being proud to be part of a successful business is key.


Question: What are you doing to ensure the company continues to grow and develop?

Answer:  Fortunately, we have a strong base to work from and whilst some smaller and weaker providers might suffer, I am confident that our focus on efficiency guarantee our own future, building a business that is effective, efficient, progressive and adding real value to the community by delivering quality bespoke care solutions that meet people's needs and promote independence.  Nice words, but these ideas underpin all the changes we have made and further change no doubt to come!
By Rossella Kench 03 Jun, 2016
This week we interviewed our former Managing Director Tim Holland, who saw Support Horizons going from a temp agency to the healthy business we know today.  At the beginning it was just an idea, but the core values were already in our blood stream!  

We will soon be celebrating our 10th year anniversary, and it wouldn't be a real celebration without remembering and honouring our roots.

Question: What inspired you to start Support Horizons?

Answer: 
Support Horizons started as a very exciting idea from the community to support the community.  There was a strong need to create something different in the borough.  Wokingham Learning Disability Partnership Board, Wokingham Borough Council, Dimensions and Ravenswood came together to create an agency which provided support to people with learning disabilities, and to give employment opportunities for vulnerable people. Initially I was seconded from Dimensions as Project Manager of the new venture.


Question: How did you establish Mission, Core Values and Vision?

Answer:  As a community owned organisation they were embedded within the project from the beginning and were at the route of the new organisation.

Question: How did you encourage others to communicate the core values?

Answer:  As the reasons why we existed, they  were part of the project from the start, we were able to apply them to everything we did without having to think about it.  We were lucky to recruit some great staff who all shared the core values of inclusion and community ownership.


Question: How did you ensure the Support Workers and other employees understood the culture?

Answer:  All employees - Support Workers and office staff - would be exposed to Support Horizons' culture from the interview process. Where possible, there would be a customer involved during each interview, and the questions asked put the message across very strongly.  There used to be a very thorough induction from people who used the support themselves - "Listen to us training" - which has now been handed over to CLASP (and is still used to this day - now called Values Training), and the training focused on the induction of new employees as well as give the role of new Support Workers within the company.


Question: What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Answer:  A few years into the project we realised that a lot of agencies  were providing the same service as Support Horizons.  We had a business plan and strong core values, so we decided to change the business from a temp agency to a support provider.  This involved conforming to rules and legal requirements that didn't apply to us until then.  Also, we had to start the registration process with professional bodies like the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and it was a very scary time for all involved, as we didn't know how things would have turned out for us and our customers.  We had to change the nature of our business otherwise it would have been difficult to carry on, so we jumped ... and landed on our feet!


Question: What have been the biggest achievements?

Answer:  Our proudest moment was when we started winning bigger contracts from Wokingham Borough Council, as it meant we had finally grown into a real business.  We also had a company-wide feedback exercise, which we used to do for our AGM, and we asked questions to absolutely everyone - Customers, Support Workers, Board members -.  We would use all feedback, positive and negative comments, to find out what was working and what we needed to improve in order to grow as a company and remain competitive in the market.


Question: What are the three biggest accomplishments?

Answer:  Changing the business model from a temp agency to a successful support provider about to celebrate its 10th year anniversary.  Surviving in a sector where the only constant is change.  Creating something that was different from any other business and that gave great value to people and their lives.


Question: Give me one word that describes you the best.

Answer:  Enthusiastic!

We are very grateful to Tim for his generosity and for sharing his insights and past experiences about Support Horizons, and we look forward to seeing him again at our 10th Year Anniversary  party on the 17th June.  Please see our latest Newsletter for more details.











By Rossella Kench 23 May, 2016

We interviewed our customer Stephen one cold February morning, at our office in Denmark Street, as he had some very exciting news for us: his father – Don Bastow – had decided to write his incredible story for the family, during Stephen’s latest hospital admission. This wasn’t the first hospital admission for Stephen, who spent his life dealing with various medical conditions, but this time his dad thought he would not come out alive!

The book is a little treasure chest filled with precious photos, happy family memories and the outline of a scary journey lived by a very brave family.

There are many touching moments, but the sweetest thing we would like to highlight - apart from all the challenges Stephen and his family had to face – is the love story of Stephen and his partner Jackie, which was featured on the three parts BBC3 programme The Unbreakables: Life & Love On Disability Campus , in July 2015. The programme examined life for young people living with a disability around the Campus, and Stephen and Jackie’s story was one of them.

Mr Bastow introduces his book by saying “The proof that a person, with some learning difficulties, together with a little help and support, can live a happy, contented, and successful life”, and Support Horizons is very proud to be playing a very small role in Stephen and Jackie’s lives.

The book isn’t on sale, as it was meant for family and friends, but we were kindly donated a copy by Stephen to keep in the office, so pop in to see us and take a look at the book should you wish to find out more about the story.

By Ellie McDaniel 15 Apr, 2016
By Ellie McDaniel 02 Feb, 2016
By Ellie McDaniel 04 Jan, 2016
We hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a very happy New Year. To prolong the festive feeling, here are a few images from our  Christmas jumper day. 
By Ellie McDaniel 23 Dec, 2015

On behalf of all the team here at Support Horizons, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you all get some well-deserved time to re-charge your batteries, spend time with family and friends and of course enjoy yourself!

To everyone in and around our team, thank you for the efforts that you have put in throughout the year. I might have only been here two months but I have seen some great engagement from people at all levels of the business and it truly is a pleasure for me to work with such a committed team. Every one of you should be truly proud of the contribution you have made to this superb business.

Most of you will be aware that we were recently audited by the CQC.


I am pleased to announce that the draft CQC report was received today and rated us GOOD across all five areas of measurement!  

  • Is the service safe? – GOOD
  • Is the service effective? – GOOD
  • Is the service caring? – GOOD
  • Is the service responsive? – GOOD
  • Is the service well-led? – GOOD

Overall Rating – GOOD

 

you can tell I am enjoying writing the word GOOD! can’t you!

 

Once again, I hope you all have the Christmas you want and deserve. There will be further communication about more changes and improvements in the New Year!

By Ellie McDaniel 17 Nov, 2015
Here's an update from our Gardening Club:  “Tesco kindly donated some seeds and garden resources to Support Horizons Garden group. We go to Jealott’s Hill every week where we have an allotment, a greenhouse, raised beds and cold frames as well as use of a poly-tunnel. We use the poly-tunnel to grow seedlings – then plant them out. We grow vegetables and herbs all year round under the expert guidance of David who is a trained Horticultural Therapist. We share the produce or donate it to a good cause… We always have fun and garden in all weather” - Colin Higginson, Support Worker
By Ellie McDaniel 05 Oct, 2015
We're delighted to announce the launch of our new website which has been designed to work more effectively on mobile and tablet devices. It will also give us the opportunity to keep all of our customers, staff and support network informed going forward.

Thanks to the team at Digity Web Design in Wokingham for all their support to get us to this point.  
By Chris Lunn 27 Sep, 2015
July’s award for Support Worker of the Month goes to Carmen Sarrion. Carmen is reliable, flexible and always willing to help out. She’s always aware of her customers’ needs and how they’ll be affected by change, especially when it comes to swapping her usual routine to cover other people’s shifts.

Carmen will be getting an extra £50 in her wages next week.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We’d just like to add that even though we have this award and are very pleased when people are nominated, we’re delighted to have such an excellent group of support workers working with us. We wish we could give the £50 to everyone!
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