Partner Story – Association for Real Change (ARC England)

As a local charity, Reach is firmly rooted in Nottinghamshire. Every day, our staff connect with local health and social care agencies, district and county councils, community and voluntary sector organisations, and local funders to help improve quality of life for people with learning disabilities in our county.

However, we also believe it is important to be part of national conversations about the very complex challenges facing the learning disability sector today. The Association for Real Change (ARC England) is a national membership organisation providing support for learning disability organisations. Through ARC England we can connect with other providers facing similar issues, share best practice, and have our voice heard by national policymakers through ARC England’s lobbying and networking. This all helps us to make better informed decisions and to provide the best possible quality of service to people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire.

Recent examples of how membership of ARC England has made a difference to Reach’s work include:

  • Updates about legal decisions around sleep-ins and national minimum wage
  • Guidance on interpreting fast-moving government policy and decisions during Covid-19, including social restrictions, clarification of position regarding vaccination and help with PPE
  • Updating the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) about sector challenges ensuring the voice of learning disability could be heard alongside that of the age-related adult social care dominant voice and assumptions.

Right now, like most providers, we face multiple challenges. The shortage of quality care support workers is impacting on Reach Care, whilst the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing Covid-19 issues threaten growth and development. By being part of national conversations about how to tackle such complex difficulties, we can continue striving for a sustainable future.

"As members of ARC England since 2015, Reach’s input into our work is highly valued; their role in our 2021 Virtual Visit with DHSC and Care Quality Commission colleagues played a vital part in driving home the message about what life is really like in learning disability services and how hard staff worked during the pandemic to maintain excellent care.

Providers coming together under the ARC England banner to represent the sector’s needs has never been more important. Below-inflation fee uplifts, a recruitment crisis and the steep rise in living costs is affecting services, staff and supported people. We are lobbying the Government to make their Fair Cost of Care exercise more representative of the learning disability sector and continuing to bring members together to share best practice in offering high quality, person-centred care.

The creation of the ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit will tackle the problem of a lack of available data about learning disability social care. This will allow new insight into the sector’s size and value, providing a knowledge base to inform business planning and shape policy making. As an ARC England member, Reach will be invited to take part in a quarterly CEO Confidence Index which will track sector health across a range of key indicators.

Reach provides an outstanding example to fellow ARC England members and the wider learning disability and autism sector, and we look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come.”

Clive Parry, ARC England Director

Liz Collins, ARC England Relationship and Communications Manager