Voyage Care Voice – S2E3: Outstanding quality care at Sheringham Avenue, one of our NAS accredited care homes

After a successful pilot season of Voyage Care’s first ever podcast, we are excited share our second season with everyone! Relaunching as Voyage Care Voice, our podcast will be showcasing real people with real insights.

In this season, we’ll be focusing on how important quality is in the social care sector. This week, we’re hearing from Champika Gallage, Behaviour Support Practitioner and Messias Moyo, Service Manager at Sheringham Avenue. They’ll be discussing how the NAS accredited and CQC rated Outstanding care home maintains a high level of quality.

Support for autistic individuals

Our goal is to support each autistic person to achieve the best possible outcome for their lives. We use our specialist approach that includes personalised autism specific assessments, person-centred plans, personal autism and sensory profiles, environmental assessments and communication plans. To learn more about our autism support, please visit our webpage.

Catch-up on Voyage Care Voice

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Read the transcript of the podcast below.

Amanda Griffiths:

Hello, I’m Amanda Griffiths, a quality director at Voyage Care. Welcome back to season two of our podcast where the theme is quality. Today’s episode is about one of our National Autistic Society accredited residential care homes, Sheringham. In this episode, we hear how the service manager maintains a high level of quality, which is reflected by their CQC outstanding rating.

Champika Gallage:

Hello, welcome to Voyage Care Podcast. My name is Champika Gallage, one of the behaviour support practitioners for Voyage Care. Before joining the behavioural support team, I worked as a manager for Sheringham Avenue for 15 years. I started with Voyage Care in 2002. It’s a long time, long journey. Started as a support worker but became a team leader in six months’ time.

In 2004, when we opened Sheringham Avenue, my manager, at that time, he moved as the manager there and I went for later as the deputy manager and I was successful. So, actually, we started the service from everything. I was the one who decorated the service with staff team and bought every everything, pots, pans, everything for the service. And it’s quite nice to start a new service.

The current manager for Sheringham Avenue, Messias, is also with me today. I will give a minute for Messias to introduce himself. Thanks.

Messias Moyo:

Thanks, Champika. My name is Messias Moyo, and I’m the service manager for Sheringham Avenue. I took over from Champika in April 2020. I used to work for another provider where I was for 18 years as support worker, deputy manager, manager for almost 11 years.

Champika Gallage:

Thank you, Messias. Today, we are going to talk about the importance of high quality care and support and how we achieved outstanding rating from CQC for Sheringham Avenue. And also, we will be talking about the journey in achieving national accreditation for the service. So, let’s talk about the ways we can improve high quality care and support.

How we ensure high quality care and support in our autism specialist services

Messias Moyo:

We ensure high quality care and support through the involvement of people we support in the running of their home. We listen to their views through team meetings, key working sessions. And their needs are in the centre of what we do. They’re encouraged to report any concerns and have good understanding of safeguarding. We also work closely with commissioners, families and health professionals. And we ensure that their support plans are person-centred and that the staff team that supports them is well-trained in understanding their needs.

People choose what they want to happen in their home from decorations, from the food they eat, from activities that they take part in. Each person has their own individual menu and they are supported to prepare their food actively. People we support are supported to access the community on a daily basis and all activities are risk-assessed. We have monthly meeting, as stated above, to discuss issues that affects the service. Also, safeguarding is one of the main agendas and people are made aware of their rights to challenge and report unsafe practice.

Individuals choose staff who support them through a matching tool. For example, we have individuals who like playing football. Those are linked to… They become key workers for the individuals. Similar interests are the main theme when we’re completing the matching tool. We also encourage people to attend places that help them identify with their cultural needs, such as church, pubs, social and golf clubs. And we celebrate festivals or celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter.

We also have annual surveys to inform us about areas that we need to work on or what we’ve been doing well. These are sent out to relatives, professionals. And the outcomes of that are incorporated into the service consolidated action plan, which is reviewed and updated every month.

Champika Gallage:

Yes. There are quite a lot we do, actually, even barbecues. I think the young men enjoys it. At least once or twice, we have these. So, there are so many things, activities, we plan in our service that enjoyable to the people we support. And also, some of the close by, nearby, services join us in these activities. So, it’s quite a nice way to everyone to get together and enjoy.

And also, success, when we have lots of successes and achievements. We won awards for our service, the best service support, the best teams award, and many other achievements. So, we usually have a barbecue or a party to have this success. And also, if we look at how we measure quality and care…

Messias Moyo:

Yes. We have audit processes in place, which are completed by myself, as the service manager, by the operations manager, the quality and compliance, and then the audit. The actions from these audits are incorporated into the consolidated action plan for the service which, as stated above, is reviewed and updated every month.

And we also have daily checks around health and safe. And the main thing, I think, how we can measure qualities about how people feel about how the service is delivered to them around food activities, independence and if they’re treated with respect and dignity, which those are some of the pointers that inform us that we’re doing a good job.

We also share our achievements with the relatives, especially on a fortnightly basis. We send emails with what the people have done, especially around activities. If someone has achieved, for example, baked a cake or done some weights or in the garden, we share photos with relatives and we get good compliments from relatives about these updates. And we continue to do that as a measure of the quality and care that we provide.

The service had an outstanding CQC rating and was accredited by the National Autistic Society. How did you prepare for these events, Champika?

CQC rated Outstanding and National Autistic Society accreditation

Champika Gallage:

Yes. It was during my time, actually. If you look at how we prepared for the CQC inspection and national accreditation, it’s important that we gather evidence on a daily basis than waiting for the PIR to come through because we can forget things, the great support we provided or the compliments we received, the awards we achieved, et cetera.

Messias Moyo:

PIR stands for provider information return. This is information that we send to CQC to let them know how the service is performing around successes, barriers, and other challenges.

Champika Gallage:

So, it’s important that we record this in a book or somewhere, so we can use this book to complete the PIR without forgetting this information. And also, when facing the inspection during the day of the inspection, it’s very important that we run the service as normal as we can and let the people we support to have discussions with the inspector and also letting the staff come and join in and have discussions freely with the inspector, so they can get an idea of the service, how we run the service. And the tension of the inspection will go down as well.

And also, it’s quite important that we maintain good relationships with families, other professionals, everyone involved in the support because, now, the CQC inspections are mainly focusing on the feedback they receive. So, working in a transparent manner is quite important. So, in inspections, they give quite good feedback.

It is important that people with support talk about their support, the support they receive, because they’re the people who knows whether they are receiving a good support. So, when they go and speak with the inspector about how they were before and what they achieved, et cetera, these conversations are really helpful to achieve outstanding. This will give a good picture of the service to the inspector.

If I talk about the accreditation process, actually, we were very fortunate to have the accreditation prior to the planned time scale. It’s because all our staff had a good understanding of autism and also, the guidance and support we received from Raj, the autism implementer for Voyage Care. We use lots of knowledge that staff have and how we work on day-to-day basis. All our staff team have a good understanding of autistic traits.

For example, one person is hypersensitivity to light. He would select dark colours to decorate his room. And also, he likes to keep his windows shut and curtains closed. So, we discuss this in the staff meetings, also staff inductions, supervisions, so they’re familiar with the support we provide to autistic people. So, they were able to discuss these with the inspector, assessors, very well. And we had lots of good feedback from the assessors regarding how we work in a consistent manner, because everyone were able to talk about this.

I think, Messias, the last person who moved to Sheringham Avenue, he came from a secured unit and he was refusing the support in the beginning. He was leaving the service on a weekly basis and we didn’t know where he was. He’d go and stays with these homeless people near tube stations. And every week, we have to call police and looking for him, where he was, et cetera. So, staff team were very stressed. Family was terrified, but we never gave up. We carried on. But one thing we did was, we did not focus on the challenges. We focused on the strengths of the person. We had discussions with the family and we came across he likes animals.

So, what we did was we bought some books about animals. We bought a television for the room, so he can watch documentaries on animals. Also, we planned a trip to London Zoo, actually. That was his first ever trip on the tube. I should thank the staff member who was confidently agreed to take this challenge and take him to London Zoo. This trip made a big difference. After this trip, he started to trust the staff team. Now, he enjoys visiting farms, parks, where he can be with animals. And now, he lives a very enjoyable life.

I also can give another example about another person. He also moved to our service from a secured unit. And when he came in, he was also refusing support and he was an alcoholic. He likes drinking quite a lot. When he goes to a pub, he drinks until they stop serving him and then he moved from that pub to another pub. We don’t know where he was and staff had to go looking around in which pub he would be in. So, we managed to build a very good relationship with him, thanks to the staff team. They’re working consistently and understanding people, those who can get OCD and autism, et cetera.

Now, he has completely stopped drinking since, I think, 2007. He go and talked to the inspectors about how he gave up his drinking and how he achieved everything. Now, he works in a charity shop and he enjoys his work. He goes around with Raj, autism implementer for Voyage Care, and giving talks for those school children, those who have autism and talk about his life, how we improved his life, et cetera.

One thing I want to mention is that since we opened this service in 2004, we managed to move out four people to their own, living their own flats. They still visit us for Christmas, et cetera. So, it’s quite nice to see how these people are improved.

The key to have an outstanding rating and national accreditation because of the positive feedback we received from people we support, families and professionals. I think the quality and care and support is about supporting people to have a life of their choice and to improve skills and independency.

What does the phrase “high quality care and support” mean?

Messias Moyo:

Thanks, Champika. What does the phrase “high quality care and support” mean? For us, as a service, it means that the people receive the right support that is safe, effective, caring, and responsive, and that their needs inform what we do in the service. Staff are not here just to do things for people, but to encourage and work with people to develop skills that, as Champika stated, move them to supported living where they can have their flats.

Champika Gallage:

Yes. Best quality and care is about providing their upright support to make their choices. We respect their likes and dislikes and supporting them to live a life of their choice and making their own decisions and to see them improved from where they were to how they are today and how independent they are, how improved their social skills, communication and how they are realized today.

Amanda Griffiths:

Thanks for listening. To find out more about our focus on quality, please visit our website at

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