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Chief Executive Joe Rafferty's update

I’d like to start this week’s blog by saying how delighted I was to see so many people attend this week’s Public Board and AGM at Aintree Racecourse. As you know, it was our first AGM since earning Foundation Trust status last year so it was good to see so many people interested in hearing about our plans for the future and review of the last year.

I don’t know the exact figures but I estimated around 70 people attended our Public Board meeting and nearly 300 were there for the AGM. It’s great to see such interest in what we are doing as an organisation and I was particularly pleased that so many people attended our Public Board and could see for themselves how we go about conducting our business. I had a lot of people comment afterwards that they were impressed with how the members of the Board questioned each other and the extent that we debated issues associated with patient and staff safety and wellbeing.

For both parts of the day at Aintree we had refreshing Q&A sessions with really knowledgeable questions put to the Board. There also appears to be a bit of consistency among those attending our annual meetings and I recognised many faces from the last few years. It’s great to have continued interest in what we are trying to achieve and it was nice to be able to respond to promises we’ve made in the previous year.

Another important decision made this year was the election of Hilary Tetlow as our Lead Governor. Our Board of Governors is fully up and running now following our transition to a Foundation Trust and they will play an important role in guiding this organisation’s future. Many congratulations to Hilary, who is one of three elected carer representatives among the governors for Liverpool, Sefton and Knowsley. I look forward to working closely with her and chairman Beatrice Fraenkel in the year ahead. I will provide a pen portrait for Hilary in next week’s blog.

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Preparing for the AGM is always a good process because it forces you to reflect on the previous year and what a last 12 months this organisation has experienced! In addition to becoming a Foundation Trust, we’ve also acquired Calderstones NHS Partnership Foundation Trust. This has increased the size of the Trust considerably, adding around 1,000 staff to our workforce and establishing our new Specialist Learning Division at our Whalley site – and what a great bunch of staff we have there!

That transition has been one of many challenges this Trust has had to overcome in the last year, which has included the launch of our zero suicide policy, the refurbishment and opening of the Life Rooms and scrutiny of our methods and practice in submitting our application for Foundation Status.

Yet, while facing those challenges, staff here at Mersey Care have continued to deliver high quality care and continued to innovate and you should all be proud of the work you have delivered during such trying times.

Congratulations

I’d like to offer big congratulations to our Resettle team, who have won a European probation award for our public protection work. This is a great example of Mersey Care working alongside other agencies to ensure new ways of providing care.

For those of you who don’t know what our Resettle team do, they work alongside the National Probation Service and the police and work intensively with male offenders on their release from prison. All have complex social and psychological needs, they are at high risk of further offending and typically they will have served long prison sentences having committed serious violent or sexual offences. They have a high level of interpersonal and social difficulties associated with personality disorder diagnosis.

The work begins six months before their release with a focus on relationship building and developing a personalised risk management and intervention plan to best meet their needs and mutually agreed goals. Once a participant agrees to come to the project, their attendance becomes a licence condition.

The project adopts a” through the gate" service with participants picked up from the prison gate, with a high level of support offered on release. They attend for up to four days per week, during which they participate in group work, individual key work sessions and activities to support their social integration and steps to independent living.

It’s a great project and I’m delighted they are being recognised in this way with such a prestigious award. Well done to all involved.