Voyage (DCA) London East provides essential support for people with learning disabilities and complex care needs in supported living properties, in their own homes or in the local community.
Previously rated ‘Good’ in 2017 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Voyage London East has recently been graded ‘Outstanding’! This is an amazing achievement for Sylvia Berry, Branch Manager, her team, as well as the people we support.
Sylvia has nurtured an impressive culture focused on putting the people we support at the centre of their care plans, empowering them to make decisions about how they want to live, and working with them to accomplish the goals they set.
We spoke with Sylvia to find out how they achieved this new status, what it means for the people we support, and what’s next for the team at London East!
How did it feel when you first received the report?
I screamed! The CQC inspector called me beforehand to give me the result and the report was sent afterwards. I called every team member to let them know – everyone had the same reaction as me!
It was so unreal! We’re always so busy with the people we support and trying to achieve the best outcomes for them; we don’t think about it until we read something like this. It’s validating when external people recognise your hard work.
“The report puts things into perspective. It drives our ambition and makes me think about what we can achieve next.”Sylvia Berry, Branch Manager
The report recognises the hard work that goes into the services every day. But life doesn’t stop because we’re an Outstanding service – we still need to continue promoting outcomes for the people we support.
Can you explain why this is such a huge achievement?
The team have worked so hard to overcome obstacles. The COVID-19 pandemic created staffing issues, but the team worked harder than ever to keep achieving outcomes for the people we support. It’s amazing to know that, even after the challenges we had during this time, we were able to achieve this recognition.
The report also recognised the staff, which gives them so much encouragement to keep doing what they do. They have demanding jobs, and the result instantly lifted their spirits.
How did you prepare for this inspection?
So much work goes into it, and we didn’t leave anything to the last minute. We spent time preparing paperwork, ensuring records were up to date and getting everything in order. I know how hard the staff work and didn’t want anything to be missed or compromise our achievement.
We also keep an ‘Outstanding Service’ folder on our system, which was shown during the inspection. The team use this to log anything they’ve done that goes above and beyond for the people we support. It tells a story since the last inspection and documents all the amazing things we do. We’re constantly reviewing it, adding to it, and sharing things with each other.
How did you find the overall process of inspection?
It’s daunting. It’s difficult to evidence the hard work you’ve put in over years in just two days. On the first day I went through exactly what we do and was able to confidently demonstrate how well I know my team, the services, and each person we support.
I’m out in the field a lot, which helps. If you’re in an office, you can’t see what people need or understand the culture that’s developing. Being able to explain this to the inspector made me more relaxed.
What factors have helped you achieve ‘Outstanding’?
The key factor is demonstrating active support and focusing on what people can do. We don’t assume people can’t do something and just do it for them. We go through a process with them and encourage them to do things for themselves.
We find out the interests of the people we support and source opportunities for them. We then go the extra mile to help them do the things that matter to them – things they truly enjoy.
People often focus on what others can’t do, not what they can do. It’s about going through a process with them and showing them how to do something…. we must go that extra mile and help people do the things that matter to them.Sylvia Berry, Branch Manager
What difference does this rating make to the people we support?
It makes a huge difference because it shows the hard work we do and motivates the team to keep achieving more for them. It makes us think about the next steps for the services and people we support.
We’ll take the learnings from the report, discuss it with them and ask them what we can do to improve on the support we’re giving; do we need to change anything? We’ll continue working with them and use the report to establish how they want their support to evolve.
In your opinion, what makes a service outstanding?
For me, it’s ensuring the people we support know it’s their home and putting them at the centre of everything you do, not just doing things for them. It doesn’t matter how long it takes; go through the process because it empowers them. All the small steps they take on the journey are outcomes that help them reach their goal. Complete risk assessments along the way – identify obstacles that might hinder their progress, but always give them the chance.
We give the people we support opportunities to do things for themselves and make decisions – it’s their home, not ours. We give them so much encouragement and they take pride in this praise.Sylvia Berry, Branch Manager
What tips do you have to help other services achieve this rating?
I don’t want to claim to be the person with the magic wand! It’s about getting to know the people we support and getting them involved in making decisions.
It’s also about having a team that understands what you want to achieve – that’s important. Communicating with them and understanding what isn’t working and why, as well as constantly asking yourself how you can improve is vital.
Listening to other people’s ideas is important too. The team are the ones immersed in the role 24 hours a day. They have so much knowledge and might tell you something you didn’t know.
About Voyage (DCA) London East
Voyage London East is based in South East England. Operating across multiple supported living services, and in individuals’ own homes. The London East team work with the people we support to achieve their goals and empower them to live more independently.
Interested in the support we can offer? Get in touch via our quick and easy form, and a member of the team will be in touch!