The Chief Executive of national learning disability support provider Dimensions last week shared his thoughts on the social care sector when questioned by somebody the organisation supports during a shadow day.
Steve Scown, Chief Executive of Dimensions, was shadowed by Sarah Absolom, 30, when he visited the West Sussex region of the organisation on Thursday. (June 27th) There he discussed employment opportunities with people supported by Dimensions, saw people taking part in drama sessions at a day centre run by the organisation and attending a local gym in their community.
Sarah, who is the co-chair of the Dimensions Council and is herself supported by Dimensions, also held a question and answer session with Steve; putting her own questions to him as well as questions from other people.
Asked about the biggest change in the social care, Steve answered: “After 30 years in social care the biggest change I have seen is people moving out of long stay hospitals and that is good change. My biggest frustration is that some people are still in institutions and they all need to close.”
Reflecting on the day, Steve said he had very much valued being able to get Sarah’s perspective on personalised support and other issues around social care. He enjoyed being able to see how direct services are valued in the community, especially in an environment when day centres are being closed down due to funding cuts.
He said: “Dimensions is committed to listening to people we support to ensure we are providing what they want and expect from us to truly live lives of their own choosing. Every day we see the real difference a personal approach makes to people’s lives.
“Things are difficult in the social care sector at present, with government funding cuts, but we and other providers must all remain focused on the people at the centre of support and not allow the needs of vulnerable people to be marginalised.”
Sarah lives with her family and dreams of living independently and getting married in the future. She told Steve about her dreams and aspirations and Steve was able to give her advice. Dimensions aims to help people to lead lives of their own choosing and Steve was pleased to hear about Sarah’s ambitions.
Sarah said she liked the fact that Steve was honest and loyal to the social care sector. She was interested in what a typical day at work for a chief executive involves, as well as finding out how he got to his position and what he likes and dislikes about his job. She will take some of his advice on getting into work back to the Dimensions Council and the people Dimensions supports. “It was a brilliant and inspiring day,” she added.
It is the first time somebody supported by the organisation has shadowed a Dimensions Chief Executive for the day. It was organised to ensure that Dimensions is transparent and open with people supported by the organisation, and to work towards supporting the pledges in the social care charter launched at parliament last year.
Henry Smith MP said: “Over the last year Dimensions has raised awareness around greater control and choice for people with learning disabilities and autism, through the Social Care Charter.
“It is so important for people to choose the correct support, leading to greater control over their own activities and lives; something I heard directly from people Dimensions supports when they spoke passionately about their needs and aspirations at the charter launch event,” he said.
To read more about the day and the questions posed by Sarah, visit www.dimensions-uk.org/shadowday
Dimensions is a specialist not-for-profit provider of support for people with learning disabilities and autism. It supports more than 3,000 people across England and Wales. For more information visit www.dimensions-uk.org