Reacting to the latest statement by Together Gibraltar, the Government would like to make abundantly clear that it will always prioritise Learning Disability Services service users. Any decision that may affect the support service users receive is carefully planned out and is done in full consultation with specialised professionals and the Disability Society.
The Government will always welcome constructive feedback to decisions that are made but will not allow issues to be exploited for party political gain.
New members of staff at the Care Agency are enrolled on a bespoke learning and development programme which will ensure that they are trained properly and in line with the needs of the service. This training will enhance the quality of the service provided and is in the interest of the service users. Additionally, many of the new staff members are highly qualified in areas that specifically relate to Learning Disabilities and also have extensive experience in this field. For example, one new support worker is studying a Masters in Trauma and has experience of working at the Care Agency.
In their statement last night, Together Gibraltar state that this move will ‘cost the taxpayer more money in the long term’. This is absolutely not the case and Ms Hassan Nahon should not make such claims. New members of staff that are to be employed by the Care Agency to replace fixed term contracts (locums) have a much higher chance of retention with many opportunities for continuing professional development and contributing to developing services in the long term. This will, once again, have a positive impact on service users. Long term retention and minimalised recruitment drives will reduce the cost on taxpayers.
Together Gibraltar is spreading incorrect information without any consultation with those making the decisions. The Care Agency was in close consultation with the Disability Society throughout this process, and kept them fully informed throughout. The consultation gave the Care Agency the opportunity to provide them with up to date information regarding any changes and deal with any queries they may receive from families to help alleviate any anxieties.
The Government would also like to emphasise the importance of referring to the Care Agency’s service users as young people and adults with learning disabilities and not as children as Together Gibraltar have done in their statement.
The Government fully acknowledges that one of its most important resources is its employees and this is no different for the Care Agency. The Care Agency is committed to the training and development of its entire workforce which will enable its staff to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to maximise their full potential. It prides itself in its structure and organisation, especially when it comes to any type of transition that may affect service users who are always at the core of their decision making.
The Government would also like to highlight that the Care Agency has a Learning and Development Coordinator who ensures that professionals deliver bespoke training to all members of staff.
The recent changes were carefully planned with time to develop rapport with service users via experienced staff who receive close supervision and guidance. This ensured that service users remained at the top of the Care Agencies priority.
It must also be made clear that as a result of this transition, there are now more support workers available to assist service users than before. For instance, new members of staff are fulfilling a previous part time position in a full time capacity.
Additionally, the relevant staff were informed with due notice of the termination of their short term contract and were aware, throughout the lockdown periods related to the pandemic, that their contracts were extended exclusively to ensure that the impact of restrictions on the service users and families was limited.
Finally, the Government is extremely disheartened at the lack of faith that Together Gibraltar have in the Care Agencies ability to adhere to the expected standard of providing care to people with Learning Disabilities. The Care Agency recognises that each service user is an individual and that everyone needs to succeed and it aims to empower its service users with learning disabilities to reach their full potential. The Care Agency is fully committed to inspiring service users to achieve personal development through a stimulating and well thought out programme. As such, the Learning Disability Services respects the individual needs of service users, fosters a caring and therapeutic environment and emphasizes the social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of each service user.