The hard work starts here


Dan Mushens reflects on his five years working at Penumbra and a recent excellent grade for his service

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21st March 2019 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

I’m in my fifth year of working in Penumbra’s ARBD services in Glasgow, and it’s been quite a journey. If I’m honest, I was all set for leaving after the first couple of weeks, but I decided to stick it out, and I’m glad I did.

I started off working in our supported accommodation service (SAS) in the north of the city. It’s a discreet care home for up to eight people to continue their recovery from alcohol related brain damage for around a two year period.

To further support people when they return to their own homes upon discharge from the care home, we also have a separately registered supported living service (SLS) which at the time, operated out of the same building.

Due to sharing the same office space and staff team, the SLS didn’t have its own identity and was generally considered an ‘add-on’ to the SAS - or its little sister as it used to feel to me. It wasn’t given the same attention and ability to grow that a stand-alone service would have been afforded.

Our capability to deliver support to people who lived in the community was inconsistent and largely depended upon what staff members were available in the SAS on any given day.

Morale amongst the staff team was low and leadership from the management team wasn’t living up to expectations. Although at face value the support that was delivered did appear to produce good outcomes, there was no paper-trail or evidence to back this up. Everything was a bit casual and somewhat chaotic.

With both services having no clear direction, we were a bit like a rudderless ship without a captain – coasting along in the hope that everything would somehow be ok. Standards were slipping and so too were the grades we received from our annual care inspectorate visits.

As an organisation, Penumbra introduced a new recovery team model, which slightly altered the job title, role and responsibilities of employees. During a shift, the atmosphere seemed toxic at times and some sort of change was clearly needed.

I began to work in the SLS full time to try and offer some consistency and soon after we had a change of management too, which provided some much needed leadership.

Alison Garrow arrived with ideas and enthusiasm in abundance and slowly but surely things improved. Over time, our staff team has been overhauled giving us the right blend of youth and experience.

We now also have a highly respected peer volunteer with a peer worker also due to join our team very soon too. We fully appreciate their unique lived experiences are invaluable and can further benefit our supported peoples recovery journeys.

To help staff deliver consistent support across both services with recovery and person centeredness at its core, the team was encouraged to devise an in-house tool we now call the ‘step up programme’.

The programme prepares and assists supported people for independent living and offers different tools to regularly review their individual recovery journeys, at a pace that suits their needs.

The step up helps staff to facilitate and dictates the flow of a support session, instead of simply turning up at someone’s house; asking how they are and having a nice chat over a cuppa. The practical and therapeutic aspect of this toolkit has been a big hit with the people who use it.

As it’s a key part of a support plan and a live document that is used to inform a support session, it’s continually reviewed and contributes to the evidence that was once missing.

The SLS office base has also relocated into a city centre location and is now outwith the care home altogether. It wasn’t right to have a separate business operating out of a place that eight people call their home.

Dan Mushens

Dan Mushens

Our grades have steadily increased over the last few years and after a care inspectorate visit in December 2018, an anxious seven-week wait concluded with the news that we had been awarded the highest grade of six for all the themes we were inspected for.

The grade of six equates to ‘excellent’ and ‘sector leading’ and although biased, I feel it’s warranted due to the team’s efforts over recent years. Our staffing has come full circle and the challenge we now have is how to keep this ambitious and motivated team together.

This transformation is the fruition of several years worth of service planning with the excellent support delivery now considered to be embedded within every staff members own practice.

The hard work starts here as they say and holding on to these grades will be our next challenge. The inspection report for the supported accommodation service can be found here, with the supported living service located here.

Dan Mushens is a recovery practitioner for mental health charity Penumbra. He regularly tweets on the subject of ARBD and can be found on twitter @danielmushens   

22nd March 2019 by Kathleen Round

Once again I read this article with pride as Penumbra and it's hardworking enthusiastic staff and management obviously have worked extremely hard and the results are here to see how they have helped the unfortunate and gave them hope and confidence to get on with their lives knowing they have these wonderful caring people to help them along ..Well done again Penumbra you should all be very proud .Regards