Fully recruited and Outstanding: commissioning for high performance

Shelve your stereotyped view of social care. There is no crisis. Not in West Dorset, at any rate.

Here, in August 22, at the (so far) peak of the staffing crisis that has gripped social care across the country, Dimensions had fully recruited colleagues to support people in the area.

And over the New Year period, we were thrilled to get an Outstanding rating for our Dorset support. CQC doesn’t dole these out; an outstanding rating is cause for celebration, particularly in the current climate.

As CQC noted,

“…People led inclusive and empowered lives because of the ethos, values, attitudes and behaviours of the management and staff. People were absolutely at the centre of collaborative and respectful circles of support. Staff valued the knowledge and experience of people’s relatives and held them in high regard…”

One relative summed it up, saying: “They are getting their life.”

Operations Director Vikki-Lee Dampier commented,

“We work in true partnership with people supported, families and professionals here. Self-reflection, owning our mistakes and constantly improving as a circle of support isn’t always easy but as the rating shows, it is so worth it. This Outstanding is for all my colleagues who put their heart and soul into their work, every day.”

Our colleagues here – support workers and managers alike – are brilliant and absolutely deserving of this rating. But so are many colleagues across the rest of the country; being brilliant doesn’t in and of itself result in an Outstanding rating.

So what is going so well in this area specifically? One factor in particular is worth highlighting:

Back in 2021 following a ‘Cost of Care’ exercise, Dorset increased the rate they pay providers to a level that allowed us to pay competitively in the local jobs market. As a result we have been able to choose the best candidate for each job. We’ve frittered less money away on agency fees. There are more managers per person we support, even allowing for complexity of individual needs. And because we have longstanding colleagues who know the people they support well, the quality of that support is high, morale is high, staff retention is high. It’s a great place to work.

Dimensions continues to call for all support worker pay to be benchmarked at NHS band 3 with suitable additional funding from central government. What an outstanding national care system we could have.