Spring blog by Michael Laing

We had to break up the ice and wait for it to melt before we could get onto the river to race and make progress. When we turned up at 7.30am on the 11 March to row on the River Wansbeck the surface was thoroughly iced over. Even if the spring bulbs had bloomed it was still wintry.

The race organisers met. There were 200 plus people waiting to race plus helpers and supporters. There was discussion and debate. Advice was sought from the local club and water safety experts. Insurance policies and national guidance were consulted.

20230408_103509.jpgEventually – helped by some hot drinks and bacon rolls – a plan was agreed. A motorised boat was launched. The ice was broken up. The sun came out and the water started to flow. Racing started and the exciting part of the day began.

We are in a similar position with the County Durham Care Partnership. Partners are agreed that we want to co-produce a Joint Committee. Sometimes we think, wrongly, that the way ahead is “frozen” as new structures fix into being in a short space of time. However this is not the case. Just like the race organisers we can break through the ice when we meet together, discuss and debate options, take some expert advice and make best use of policies and national guidance. When we have done that we can put together our “Durham Crew”, get into the race and make progress. Over the next few months that is what the County Durham Care Partnership will be doing.

I’m happy to say that once we had sorted out the ice we had a great day of racing in a friendly atmosphere where we all “got stuck in” to help each other. Did my crew win? It didn’t matter. The whole sport “won” because of the co-operation between the Clubs to make the day a success.

When I experience icy conditions I always think about our Teams who visit people in their own homes. They always tell me that it is a great privilege to be welcomed into someone else’s home and in many cases become part of “the family”. The quality of care we give is, of course, of paramount importance. However it is often the kindness and compassion we show which makes a real difference to people.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in recent months with colleagues working out how we can demonstrate not only the quality of care but also your kindness and compassion to CQC. Inspections of adult care assessment and commissioning are being re-introduced from April 2023. NHS partners and the Council’s in-house services are well used to CQC inspection and we are sharing experiences and learning from each other. Our preparations are often about data and policies and evidence but we are determined to showcase your daily compassion and kindness to people who use our services.

“Daffodils” by William Wordsworth is a poem often associated with spring, when he is wandering “lonely as a cloud”. Wordsworth also wrote a fantastic poem about compassion focused on Alice Fell a “fatherless and motherless” girl who said to him “And I to Durham, Sir, belong”. Wordsworth met her on a journey from the Lake District to Durham. She was “weather beaten” and had lost her cloak. Wordsworth, as an act of compassion, bought her a new cloak of “duffil grey” which made her “proud”. You should be proud as well of the compassion and kindness you show to people who use services and to each other. As we leave winter behind and go into spring - the season of new life – we can re-affirm together our commitment to compassion and kindness. Enjoy the daffodils!