SCIE opinion – 10 January 2014

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Photograph of Tony Hunter

My first week as Chief Executive

By SCIE’s Tony Hunter

I’ve spent the last few months saying a ‘long hello’ to SCIE staff and board members. Over my last three months as Chief Executive at North East Lincolnshire Council, I met as many SCIE staff as I could, but now I can really concentrate on the job in hand. So, on 6 January I started my new role; a strange time to begin, but I had no problem addressing my new year’s resolution for 2014; “here’s to good practice in social care and to SCIE’s strapline: “sharing knowledge, improving lives”.


At 10am on my first morning, as we packed away the office Christmas tree, we also packed into a meeting room; I was quickly able to reflect on my own priorities and expectations, and to gather, from staff, their thoughts on what lies ahead. Plus, importantly, I gathered their advice for me. I personally believe that it is only via open and honest discussion that we can move forward in well-informed ways in these complex times. 


I had to apologise to any staff who had the misfortune to see me in my shorts as I headed off for a run around Regents Park on my second day in the office. Apparently, if you run past London zoo, on the other side of the main entrance you can commune with giraffes and zebras. More important this week has been meeting up with lots of external stakeholders, some of whom I know from previous roles. These initial meetings with people from the world of social care, health, local government and other areas of public service, are really important for grasping a feel of what’s happening in the world of care and support.


Next; to a meeting to discuss some upcoming media appearances. I’m talking to Children and Young People Now next week about our work in their areas of interest. So I’ve been gemming up on issues like the Working Together guidance, which looks to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. We have our successful SCIE model for case reviews and serious case reviews, Learning Together and I’ll be telling the journalist about that. I’ll also be writing some thoughts soon for the Guardian, on its Social Care Network, so watch this space. Also today; a great lunchtime event from SCIE trustee Alex Fox from Shared Lives, on how small community initiatives, such as micro-businesses, can make a big difference.


Good news. We’ve heard that we’ve been awarded the additional Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) commission we bid for; SCIE are working with HQIP, the clinical audit specialists, to improve the situation in dementia settings. This will be addressed by using a pilot scheme which will use “care audits”. I’ve thanked the staff who worked on this over Christmas. And there’s now one week to go until the SCIE trustee away day. Next Thursday, some senior managers and I will be supporting the away day, focusing in particular on the outside world of potential customers for our work; what they need and what they will be ready to pay for.  This is ambitious territory and shows all our intentions of thinking big about SCIE’s future.


A time for a few moments’ reflection on my first week. And I had to explain away the picture on my desk showing me performing, with my band, in a well-known rock venue in Hull (or was it a back-street pub?). I’ve been singing with the band for a few years now and it’s a good way to let off steam. Is there a similar venue in London, and, if I perform, will anyone turn up?

A good first week; there’s great people who are all up for it.