The Chief Officer’s Group
|On the 5th – 7th October I attended the bi-annual Chief Officers Group conference that was held in Penrith in the Lake District. The Chief Officers Group (COG) is made up of CEOs of local and regional deaf charities with a turnover of £250,000 or more. The current membership includes: Manchester Deaf Centre, Royal Association for Deaf (London and South East), Deafness Support Network (Cheshire), Sonus (Hampshire), Nottinghamshire Deaf Society, Action Deafness (East Midlands), Deaf Vision (Cumbria), Deafway (Preston), Gloucestershire Deaf Association and Deaf Direct.
The aim of COG is to provide an informal forum for peer support and information exchange which meets the needs of its members, and helps to empower deaf service providers and their related organisations, and to influence the national and regional agenda in order to enable member organisations to fulfil their mission and aims.
The agenda for this conference included the following:
Deaf Common Purpose
COG discussed the frustration felt at the lack of a strong united vision on deafness in the UK. We were instrumental in establishing a statement of Common Purpose, giving a vision for the deaf sector. We want a strong statement that is clear to all, and to be able to have an equivalent of “Vision 2020” which is a clear national strategy for visual impairment in UK.
Older People and Social Care: A review
We are committed to delivering services that Deaf people want and need. For some time now we have been concerned about the lack of provision of care and support services delivered in British Sign Language (BSL).
The Royal Association for Deaf People and [sonus] jointly commissioned University of Manchester to do a report. The report reviews social care of older Deaf people based on available evidence. It applies mainstream social care frameworks to understand service need and planning of social care provision to the highly specific context of Deaf BSL users, over the age of 65.
Having access to communication is important for us all. For people who are Deaf being in the company of people with whom they can communicate is vital to their health and wellbeing. It reduces feelings of isolation and depression. Being able to communicate with care workers about their care needs without the need to use interpreters is important; ensuring that older Deaf people’s needs are fully understood and that they receive the best possible care. Many older Deaf people are increasingly faced with the dilemma of moving into residential care services which do not use BSL, near their families or moving some distance away to live with other BSL users in a residential care service. We believe this is not a choice Deaf people should be forced to make. The report is a first step ensuring the needs of older Deaf people are understood by decision makers and commissioners. It also demonstrates our intention to address the challenges that older Deaf people face and our commitment to ensuring that care and support services are developed to meet the needs of older Deaf people.
Voluntary Sector Challenges
We discussed the decrease in deaf organisation in the current climate, and whether mergers were a way of preserving the sector.
All this, and still managed to fit in a 2 hour walk in the lakes!
By Philip Gerrard