I have now been the Chair of SECHA for a year and now is a good time to look back and also to look forward to the next year.
We first of all looked at where SECHA was going and how it did business. We looked at its values, its philosophy and what its objectives were. It was obvious that the members should always be central to what SECHA does and that there was a need to change the way we did business.
We wanted to create real benefits for its members and to create SECHA as a brand which stood for quality and trust not just within the care industry but more importantly within the community as a whole which ultimately is where we get our customers from. In this way SECHA members would have an edge on their bigger and more grander competitors to fill its beds and increase fees and profitability, to ensure home owners can reinvest to give their clients the best quality of care and at the same time give an acceptable return for their investment.
Yes a big ask.. But Rome wasn’t built in a day! Of course all the directors have their own homes to manage so we all work for SECHA as and when time permits and sometimes it does feel like trying to run through treacle. But what have we achieved?
Of course we are above all a trade association not a Trade Union. We do not have negotiating rights with the council when it comes to fees. Whilst we may ask about fees to try and do more is counter-productive We have seen over the past 5 years the adversarial negative and frankly destructive effects that approach has had on SECHA. To the point that it almost destroyed itself. SECHA has risen out of the ashes.
Whilst for some of us it may be difficult to find praise for Southend Borough Council it has to be said, many homes have seen a rise of up to 10% in fees by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council for residents obtained via the bidding system. When, in the history of SECHA has that happened before? Southend Borough Council should be applauded for this even though it may have come about more by accident than design. Currently we are talking to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council about reduced rate for energy for care homes and Southend Borough Council buying more training from us. Finance is the life blood of the Association and we need more income streams. This year we had a deficit again. I want this to be the last year we have such a deficit. I want that to be a thing of the past!
SECHA is becoming known as a voice to be heard not only within Southend-on-Sea Borough Council but within Essex County Council.
In recent months we have been involved with both Southend Borough Council and Essex County Council to seek our views in ascertaining the true cost of care in respect of Essex County Council and in relationship with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council quality issues. Our voice is being heard where it matters.
Additionally we have introduced ‘Viewpoint’ on the home page of our website. It is our opinion that SECHA should tell the community what life is about in the care industry in a way which does not put a spin on it. To the point and as it is. Sometimes the ‘Viewpoint’ is uncompromising and extreme but its goes to show the problems our industry has. We shouldn’t try to hide our problems or try to make them less than they are but SECHA tells it the way it is. Sometimes time does not allow us to pussy foot around individuals to make life look nice and lovey dovey. If individuals cannot accept the reality of life then they need to be told, told in a firm but fair way. Some people may say that its being abrupt. I disagree. I say its honesty and the community are entitled to treated as adults, and to be told THE WAY IT IS.
But the SECHA brand is becoming known. Our name is being talked about. In recent weeks we have had many members of the public contact us to ask advice and information. They have been referred to us from Age Concern, Basildon Council, Colchester Council, Clacton Council to name a few as well as the public within and around Southend. We were even asked if we could provide a speaker for a conference being held in London…!
That has been the past year. But more importantly what have we planned for the coming year?
We still are looking to recruit new members. Through large membership comes power.
I would not expect membership to increase as it did last year but year on year I would expect it to grow if only by 3 members per year would be a positive step.
We will continue to source partners who will give SECHA members discounts off goods and services The more members we have and the more the members use the partners the greater the discounts we can lever out of suppliers.
Our online training is expected to grow from 3,000 in the last year to, shall I say, 5,000 courses delivered in the coming year. No, 15,000 courses is possible. It is important we train our staff and develop staff and managers to deliver a good quality of care for their clients. Of course at that rate it becomes a significant income stream which then will allow us to develop future projects part of which is to sponsor a manager for a conference more about that in the forthcoming months, or we can deliver experts speakers for ad hoc breakfasts on subjects which are particular complex or current.
Further building of relationships with councils to ensure SECHA is at the centre of issues and changes regarding our industry and those issues which will affect all of you.
Our website will continue to evolve as and when it is appropriate. Our ‘Viewpoint’ will continue to be hard hitting. Members can contribute to our ‘Viewpoint’. We also want to be able to tell the community the good things about care homes. They are happening every day so tell us!
I mentioned earlier about associate membership. We have always had 2 associate members although they didn’t have that label on them. In recent weeks we have been pushing that idea to outside Essex I am delighted to say that we have had a chain of 14 homes throughout the UK who have joined us as associate members.
SECHA is not what it used to be. Whilst maintaining our intimate and local relationships with our members our associate membership now allow us to become a national care association!! The foundations have been created now let’s build, let’s all be proud of our association support us and give us the strength and power to make thing happen and give you real benefits from a local care association with national ideas.