What keeps me awake at night?

Peter Kinsey, Chair and CEO of Iris Care Group

Peter Kinsey, Chief Executive and Chair, Iris Care Group

After working in health and social care for 37 years and retiring twice, I am delighted to once again be leading an organisation that is working hard to improve the lives of the people we support. It’s great to be involved at the launch of Iris Care Group which I think has huge potential to be a leading champion of best practice, particularly in supporting people with the most complex and challenging needs.

Ever since I was a Home Manager in the 1980s helping a group of young men who were labelled as having “challenging behaviour” move from long-stay hospital to a new life in the community, I have always been drawn to working with this group of people. I have been actively involved for a number of years at a national level promoting positive behaviour support as an effective way of helping people who challenge to communicate and get their needs met.

I am really pleased to be leading Iris Care Group which has some absolutely fantastic staff with enormous expertise in supporting some of the most complex and challenging people in the country. I am excited about the possibility of developing some really high quality leading-edge services that will offer a community-based alternative to hospital care.

When it comes to what keeps me up a night, I think I have become quite sanguine as I’ve lived with risk for many years. The one thing you can predict in care is that things will go wrong from time to time, despite your best efforts. I think the most important thing for leaders to pay attention to are:

  • Getting the right people in key leadership roles. Anyone who has read the excellent “From Good to Great” by Jim Collins will know the importance of “getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.”
  • Promoting a strong open culture in which staff feel appreciated and in which the reporting of concerns is actively encouraged. Visible leadership is absolutely essential. I am out in services every week speaking to people we support and staff. It really is the only way to know what’s going on.
  • Having effective governance processes so that you are getting the right information to monitor and manage the most significant risks.
  • Making sure you respond really quickly to serious incidents, including learning lessons and having very well thought through communication with next of kin, commissioners, regulators, and Safeguarding. Openness and honesty rather defensiveness is crucial.

This is a tough sector and it’s got tougher in recent years.

Recruitment in particular is hugely challenging and I’m not sure that the regulatory and commissioning structures in this country do enough to promote and encourage outstanding practice which is focused on the quality of life that the people we support live.

Despite that, it continues to be hugely rewarding making a real difference to some of the most marginalised people in our society.


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