Charities Providing Care Report: Getting Leadership Right

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Charities Providing Care Report: Getting Leadership Right

Published 8 enero 2020

Good leadership starts at the top and nurtures strong leaders at every level of an organisation.

Good leadership and safeguarding at SCIE starts by “having good and well-understood policies and procedures in place and creating a diverse, ‘values-led’ leadership team where co-production is at the heart of what they do,” says Hunter.

He says it also requires a board “that is genuinely connected with the experiences and outcomes it is seeking to create”.

“At SCIE we have a board which is diverse, with a wide range of life experiences, where safeguarding is a priority on every agenda and funding is prioritised for safeguarding training,” he adds.

He stresses the importance of learning from past mistakes and viewing them as an opportunity to improve.

If past mistakes have led to governance changes, he stresses that it’s “vital to make sure that they are ones that staff and people who use the service actually see as helpful”.

Hunter cautions that any organisation with zero safeguarding complaints should not feel complacent. “It’s not always OK – it means people might not know how or when to come forward.”


Where things have gone wrong, contributors to this report agreed it is vital to be open and honest, and that this must be seen to happen in a timely manner. Dixon comments on a “potentially serious issue” at PSS, which involved the police and coroners, where she says the charity was “very upfront and honest about what happened”.

“We responded to the right agencies but also got in touch proactively and made sure that the right people were informed. In the end there was an issue that was not down to us, but we had enhanced our reputation by being transparent.”

Ospedale says it is vital to understand what has gone wrong by carrying out a critical path review. “We can learn from it and apply across the rest of the organisation so that you don’t have the situation where six months later the same thing happens in a different part of the organisation.”

Following a critical path review, United Response introduced a ‘health calendar’ involving a patient questionnaire that staff can use to check patients are following healthy practices such as eating well, taking enough activity and drinking enough liquid. The system will flag any issues with patients who are not doing these things, and will give staff the prompts they need to get the patient’s GP involved if necessary.

As part of the implementation of the system, Ospedale says it was vital that staff were given the confidence to be able to argue their corner with clinicians. “We had a support worker who went in to see a client in hospital and saw a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ sign above the bed [for a patient who either had not made that declaration, or was unable to do so]. The worker eventually challenged the consultant who said, ‘you are absolutely right, take that down’.”

United Response also uses HR firm Agenda Consulting’s People Count survey, which allows them to compare the organisation’s key HR metrics with similar providers. “We also participate in market oversight where we compare and benchmark ourselves using CQC data on financial performance and quality, for example,” he says.

It also benchmarks the number of whistle-blowing episodes and how many employee relations cases it receives compared with other organisations, which Ospedale says “gives an indication of whether you have got issues”.


Campbell says recent high-profile cases that highlighted failures at charities prompted Alzheimer’s Society to instigate an independent safeguarding review.

“An external consultancy evaluated and scrutinised all of our internal processes and procedures and we actioned anything that they told us could be improved in the way we operate,” she says.

Crucially, any changes to be made following a review should be agreed and believed in by clients and staff.

Alzheimer’s Society is also driving home the importance of safeguarding to all its employees and volunteers. Campbell says: “No matter which part of the organisation you work in, you know the role you have to play and what you would need to do. We also explain to everyone what safeguarding issues are – financial, sexual, physical etc, and that they know how to identify and report where they have any concerns.”

Robertson says that while charities may pride themselves on being more fleet of foot than other sectors, more agile methodologies for developing new service lines and policy initiatives don’t always include consideration of safeguarding.

“When you are spinning ideas up quickly and testing them, it may not be instinctive to design in all the things that you would if you were building a project by more orthodox methodology. So the team has to think about what point you build in safeguarding and other concerns – as soon as you start working with people. That is a question of leadership and a shared vision of ‘safety first and impact first’.”

Click here to download ‘Charities Providing Care: Leadership, safety and governance’ in full.


Alistair Robertson

Alistair Robertson

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6020

Key Contacts

Alistair Robertson

Alistair Robertson

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6020

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