Co-Production Learning Disabilities & Autism Real Lives

Checking on quality

John Leicester

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The four-strong team of Quality Checkers are highly valued employees within Consensus who regularly visit each one of 96 services across the UK. They all live within one of those services, so are experts in the issues faced by people with autism, learning disabilities and other complex conditions, as they have a disability themselves.

The aim for the team, working alongside their own PAs, is to audit every single service every year. This process is designed to ensure that individuals supported by Consensus have a voice, share their views and talk to someone about how they are feeling about the service provided and where any improvements could be made.

John Leicester, Senior Quality Checker, reflects on the accomplishments of the Quality Checkers Team throughout what has been a difficult couple of years for all of us:

Kelly and I cover the Midlands and North area, Jamie and Louis our services in the South. When we weren’t able to make visits and have face-to-face conversations for our audits, we used technology to communicate and stay in touch with the individuals and staff members through ‘Teams’ meetings.

During the first lockdown we wanted to remain in contact with as many individuals we support as possible. We quickly became “film stars”, making videos to support individuals across Consensus during the lockdown and help them to understand the pandemic and what this meant for them.

We filmed a shopping trip to show how to keep safe during the lockdown, a hand hygiene video explaining the importance of personal protective equipment and why their support team needed to be wearing this, and produced easy read information on what the Covid vaccine was and shared experiences about receiving it.

We came up with a whole lot of other ideas for wellbeing activities and competitions to keep everyone connected – we organised quizzes, karaoke and armchair bingo amongst other group activities. We thought about how we could get people to work together on projects including: Singing a Rainbow song using Makaton, getting out into their gardens for a Consensus in Bloom competition, sharing Consensus Got Talent videos, best Christmas cake and the Service with the Best Festive Decorations competitions, and a 2021 Consensus Calendar showcasing the creativity and artwork of individuals living within many of the services.

These proved so popular that there was a second ‘Consensus in Bloom’ competition last summer and another lot of Christmas competitions. The individuals we support are proud of their homes and enjoy opportunities of making their environments better and more personalised. Another Consensus Calendar was printed again for 2022 and sent to all our services – they can give copies to supported individuals, and family or friends can ask for Calendars too.

In the Spring of last year, we were very excited to launch our ‘Consensus Voices’ Forum for supported individuals from different services to get involved and to share ideas. There have been three Forums so far – the Quality Checkers organise these and put together the agendas. We’ve discussed keeping safe when out and about, health awareness, internet safety, relationships, and what independence means to us. Those views and ideas are shared with the Consensus Executive team.

We’re pleased now to be back in the services carrying out our regular audits, speaking with the individuals and managers and support workers, and making sure the highest standards of care and support are received by all those using one of those services. We’ll continue to introduce new and exciting initiatives to keep Consensus services communicating together and working together as one big team.

John’s line manager is Jackie Preston, Best Practice & Operational Support Manager, who says: “All the Quality Checkers are passionate about their roles and are a fundamental part of Consensus’ operations. They complement the management team and feedback to us on important issues and the impact this has on people with learning disabilities, to ensure that informed decisions and changes are made. I’m so proud of John and his colleagues and of all that they do.

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