Becoming more efficient

As a charity, we are always conscious that we use money that people have generously donated. We feel a huge responsibility to spend this money as wisely as possible.

That’s why we always look for ways to operate more efficiently. By regularly reviewing our services, both nationally and internationally, we can make important efficiencies. For a charity of our scale, even small changes can result in significant savings.

The more efficiently we work, the more we can do for disabled people around the world.

What we achieved last year

Reviewing the way we procure products and services, to make sure we’re getting good value

Staff member in one of our kitchensWorking closely with disabled people in our local services, we looked at all the things we buy, from the groceries and utilities in our homes to the specialist furniture and equipment, and whether we were sourcing the best-value products and services. We’ve worked hard with existing and new suppliers to make sure we’re making the best possible use of our resources.

Managing our staff well

Across the care sector, it’s increasingly challenging to recruit the right people with the right skills. Sometimes, there simply aren’t enough registered nurses to cover the work that needs to be done - so, like other charities, we turn to agency staff to fill the gap. This does not provide the same continuity for the people we support and, of course, can be expensive.

That’s why our first priority was to support our own staff, and encourage them to develop long careers with us. We offered new training and development opportunities. We launched an in- house management skills programme to identify and develop future leaders from within our staff. At the same time, we wanted to improve the way we use and manage agency staffing. We examined the reasons we use agency staff and now report every week on how we’ve used agencies to check that we're using our resources wisely.

Even so, changes in the economy mean that the skills shortage is increasing, and our total agency hours and costs are higher this year. This is something we’ll keep monitoring closely.

‘I found the course very rewarding and have especially enjoyed learning about and understanding my own and other people’s preferences and how we can best work together going forward.’ — Inspire leadership course participant

Developing our care and support provision more effectively

We carried out a strategic review across all our services, to make sure that the work we do matches the priorities of disabled people. We carried out surveys in certain areas, which gave us a snapshot of disabled people’s views – we discovered some key trends about what they wanted from the future. We also examined external factors – things like reducing funding and increasing demand for support, as well as legislation such as the Care Act.

The result of our review was a clear Social Care Development Strategy. This will help us to systematically shape and adapt our services over the coming years, even as disabled people’s needs change.

Making training across the charity more efficient and effective

Our Learning and Development team broadened its focus. Now, our central team coordinates regional training, delivered through hubs across the UK and Northern Ireland - these hubs bring staff together to share skills and build strong support networks. As well as being more efficient, this system allows us to deliver consistent training throughout the country.

Of course, the core of our training is to make sure we’re fully compliant, so that we make sure that everyone we work with stays safe and well. But to deliver the best possible support, we recruited a team of national, specialist trainers. These provide individual training, to make sure we can offer the best possible care and support for people with complex needs.

Making our international directorate more focused

Beneficiary of one of our Access to Livelihoods programmesWe undertook a large project to standardise the way overseas programmes are managed, run and reported on. This will give us more visibility about how the projects are working, as well as allowing us to manage them more efficiently.

This work included a review of our international financial controls. As a result, we have put new processes in place and improved existing ones to give us greater transparency on how we and our partners spend money on overseas projects.

We have ambitious plans to expand our international work, and this project has given us the solid base on which to fulfil these plans.

What we will do next year

  • Develop a plan to deliver our Social Care Development Strategy, including finding ways to improve our existing service and extending our activities to reach more disabled people.
  • Continue to manage staff more efficiently, including a review of staff rostering to ensure that we are providing the right level of support to disabled people at the right time and right place.
  • Review our information governance systems, so that we can evidence good practice in data management across all areas of our work.