A Year At PSS: A year of challenges, a year of opportunities

An introduction to our Annual Report 2015/16 from our Chair; Mark Rathbone.

As anyone who works in the Health and Social Care sector will know, the last twelve months have seen the continuation of elevated need across some of our most vulnerable communities.
Unfortunately this has been further impacted by reductions in public spending and a reputational crisis around some of the UK’s best known charity brands. The wider reaching implications of such controversies are yet to be seen but we as a sector have undoubtedly seen increased scrutiny in how we go about our business activities. Vitally this means we have needed an increased focus on ensuring we are transparent and fully accountable not only as Trustees but to those people we serve in our communities.

Within PSS this has encouraged us to look again at our internal practices, not only in terms of how we deliver our front line services but how we run our organisation as a whole. Over the past year we have refocused the objectives of our in-house Quality and Compliance team, and have welcomed John McLean as head of the department. Under his leadership, and with feedback from managers across the organisation, we refreshed our in-house Quality Review process. We have also rolled out our Impact Reporting toolkit and as this report goes to print we are in the process of capturing data to ensure we are well on our way to completing Impact Reports for all services by the end of 2016-2017.

Opportunities in the face of adversity

A key theme for 2015/16 was to refresh our existing models of support to make them both more relevant for the people who need them and to make the support we provide as cost-effective as possible.

One such project currently finding its feet after launching in March is our Homeshare initiative, a pilot project funded by the Big Lottery. Our innovative take on the existing Homeshare model matches older adults in social housing with a care leaver in need of a home. In contrast to other pilots across the UK this version of Homeshare will take a two pronged attack on inequality by tackling social isolation for the elderly whilst providing training opportunities for young people.

Aside from refreshing how we deliver our services, we’ve also been keen to look for new ways to fund our projects and our first piece of work in the city of Manchester is a prime example of tackling a new payment model. The ‘Shared Lives Incubator’ is the first of its kind and utilises social investment from numerous charitable trusts to rapidly expand the Shared Lives model within Manchester. In line with our mission our involvement in this project puts PSS at the forefront of innovation within a service we started back in the 1970s.

This year has also seen our hospital based domestic violence service, The Ruby Project, expand to cover Aintree Hospital. The Ruby team have achieved this following extremely positive feedback and clear returns on investment from their work at Liverpool’s Royal Hospital. Plans are now in place to grow the service further and to create longevity for the service by securing contracted funds outside of charitable grants.

Last but by no means least our new Making Days services are a great example of how we as an organisation can make an impact on a large scale in a relatively short time-scale. Following our success with the tender to take over two of Liverpool City Council’s day services in summer 2015 we recruited over 70 new team members using our ‘values-based’ system, and as a result hired people from various backgrounds and sectors. Over the second half of 2015/16 our teams have done a phenomenal job taking the existing centres and transforming the way they are run and the support individuals receive.

Aside from direct service delivery 2015/16 saw a big investment in our IT infrastructure. During the year we replaced much of our outdated hardware and software, increasing the speed of our networks and capability of our technology. This has created a very strong platform for our future plans to lead the way in Assistive Technology and state of the art Health and Social Care electronic systems. We also introduced a new helpdesk resource to support our organisation and to assist team members who are less confident with IT. This will be complimented by increased IT training and coaching in the next financial year.

As always, we as an organisation are eternally grateful for the support we receive from our stakeholders, the friends of PSS, our commissioners and, of course, the people who use our services. Each of these groups are vitally important in making the work we do a success and we hope that as we continue moving forwards in the run up to our centenary, you will continue to be proud of your associations with PSS.

I know that I can speak for the rest of the Board when I say that we are all very proud of what PSS has achieved during what has been a very turbulent year for our sector. I’d like to thank my colleagues on the Board, and indeed across the whole of PSS, for all your hard work. We hope to welcome a continued period of opportunity for 16/17 and I for one have high hopes for what’s around the corner.

Mark Rathbone, PSS Chair

Click here to read our Annual Report 2015/16