Midlothian service for adults with disabilities has plenty to celebrate

Monday November 20th 2023

Midlothian Community Access Team

In the picture are clockwise: Alan McKenzie, Donna Jenkins, Marie McGrath, Paul Stickings, Neil Stewart, Marnie Bowyer, Grace McCaul, Claire Donnelly, Aileen Currie and James Donnachie.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Staff members from the Community Access Team (CAT) and people using their services have plenty to smile about.

The national scrutiny body, the Care Inspectorate rated the service highly after a recent unannounced inspection of the community-based service.

The CAT team, which supports adults with learning disabilities, also officially opened a new hub in Mayfield.

Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership’s Head of Adult Social Care, Nick Clater said:

“It’s the first time the CAT has been inspected since 2015 under new evaluation guidance. Inspectors recognised several strengths, including the enjoyment expressed by individuals in participating in activities, attending groups, and meeting peers. Families appreciated the opportunities provided by the Community Access Team Hubs, while staff demonstrated effective skills in supporting the service users.”

The Care Inspectorate rated the service’s wellbeing and support as ‘very good’, the staff team and care and support planning were both rated as ‘good’, while the leadership was ‘adequate’.

Nick said: “Six areas for improvement were highlighted in the Care Inspectorate report, including reviewing and standardising quality assurance processes across all hubs. All of these recommendations are already being taken forward.”

Deputy Manager of CAT Neil Stewart said the service, which is based in five hubs across Midlothian, is “only as good as its staff”. He said: “If staff feel valued and supported, service users will too.”

Day Service Officers at the Mayfield hub, Aileen Currie, Grace McCaul, Marnie Bowyer and Paul Stickings speak with warmth and professionalism about the local people using their service.

Sitting in the comfortable, freshly-decorated and welcoming new premises, service users are just as enthusiastic about the staff and activities that bring joy, friendship and routine to their days.

James Donnachie has been using the CAT services for more than 30 years. He’s out and about with CAT on Wednesdays and Fridays enjoying everything from Tea Dancing in the community to knitting scarves.

Marie McGrath is the “social butterfly” of the group. The Community Access Team members take her bowling and she loves coffee mornings and good company. She also works in the kitchen at Cherry Road, Midlothian Council’s adult resource centre.

Many of the 50 or so service users from across Midlothian, including ballsports enthusiast Claire Donnelly, have won sports awards from Disability Scotland and are Scottish Learning Disability Champions.

Most of the CAT activities are in communities with service users regularly using facilities at venues such as Newbattle Community Hub. Neil said: “Friendship is incredibly important to those who use our services but it’s also about being valued as equal members of the local community and rubbing shoulders with the likes of grans taking the kids to the library or someone going to use the gym.”

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