Care and Support customers survey their own services

| Care and Support | News

The ‘peer audits’ aim to make things better at our Southend schemes for adults with learning disabilities

Grahame House

Care and Support customers are getting a bigger say in how their Metropolitan services in Southend are run.

A team of ‘peer auditors’ – residents at our three Essex coast schemes for people with learning disabilities – have conducted their own inspections of the services.

The auditors toured the buildings and met with residents and staff. They quizzed them about customer support, customer involvement, health and safety, maintenance and complaints, using a questionnaire they had helped to create. Final reports – including any action points – were distributed to the services.

This second peer audit – the first was completed in January – is part of a new project to encourage closer working with customers to improve their experience at their Metropolitan homes.

“Our Southend services add so much value to the lives of our customers,” said Francis Genovese, Metropolitan Director of Care and Support. “The customer engagement continues to be strong and the peer audit programme is just one way in which the team works with the customers to ensure they have a say in how we operate.

“No matter what their challenges and vulnerabilities, all our customers have the ability to inform and feed back on our performance.”

The four auditors were recruited after the initiative was explained to them at their tenant meetings. A training day, designed by senior care workers Marzena Mazurkiewicz and Trisha McAuley, was an opportunity to determine the wording and scope of the questions.

“This has been a very proactive and person-centred approach,” said Trisha. “We developed the process using the insight and suggestions from our auditors.”

Already, it has led to a safer and more collaborative environment, with recommendations from the first audit taken on board. Loose wiring, broken fire blankets and out of date insurance certificates spotted by auditors have all been rectified, while outstanding repairs have been resolved.

At their request, customers are now encouraged to set up, chair and take notes at tenant meetings, with staff support. They have also been familiarised with the daily health and safety checks carried out by staff, including fire testing, tumble dryer checks and building security.

“I am responsible for checking that all audit actions are completed,” Trisha explained. “Everything must be done before the next audit, which will be in six months.”

The auditors, whose findings this time round were largely favourable, also took away new skills and ideas for their own services.

“This activity helped me develop my people skills and questioning,” said Dan, who audited The Orchards scheme. “I got some good insight – I liked the ideas for their gardens. I would like to do that at Ford House.”

Most importantly, it was an experience they enjoyed. “Seeing the customers and auditors so enthusiastic about the project and enjoying being involved is rewarding,” said Marzena. “I would like to see the same auditors lead the audit again to help them build confidence in the role.”

For Francis Genovese, it is an approach that could be taken elsewhere. “As with everything we do in Care and Support, our customers get much better outcomes the more involved they are and I know other services are looking to adopt the peer audit approach.”