PAC-UK has received powerful endorsement of its work with an Ofsted ‘overall effectiveness’ rating of outstanding.
Following an inspection in January, Ofsted also awarded PAC-UK outstanding status in the categories ‘outcomes for service users’, ‘quality of service’ and ‘leadership and management’, plus a ‘safeguarding’ rating of good.
Some excerpts from the full report, which can be downloaded from the Ofsted website, are below:
This is an outstanding adoption support agency overall. Many of its service users, particularly children and families, experience exceptionally positive outcomes, over and above what could be expected, given their complex circumstances. There is a high level of user satisfaction with the service, and any dissatisfaction is promptly addressed. One service user commented: 'I cannot underestimate how important this agency has been to our family.' An adopter commented: 'The support we have received over a number of years has been consistently brilliant.' Exceptionally knowledgeable, committed and experienced staff are well led by a strong and effective leadership team, who in turn are governed by a board of trustees who provide good challenge to all aspects of the service.
Outcomes for service users
Service users are very clear about the purpose of the service which they are receiving. There is good, comprehensive written information in a variety of leaflets, supplemented by ongoing discussion throughout the intervention. Comments from adopters include: 'our views were integral to the whole process'; 'they listened to what we had to say and understood the issues very well'; 'it was everything we wanted'; 'they were non-judgemental'; and, 'they did it very much at our pace.' If children and young people are reluctant to take part, the very skilful therapists usually manage to engage and work with them by creatively using their interests as starting points.
Most service users are extremely positive about the service they receive. The training programme is very highly regarded, as is the advice line, the outreach service and the therapeutic support with families. They use words like 'fantastic', 'amazing', and 'invaluable'. The impact of the high quality support is outstanding in most cases. The intervention is instrumental in keeping families together, many of whom are at real risk of experiencing a disruption and are at breaking point. Some families commented, 'they saved us', 'they made a massive difference', and, 'they have enabled us to start again as a family.' Adopters comment about significant improvements for their children in areas such as concentration, educational engagement and achievement, self-regulation, behaviour and calmness. One young person said, 'they made me normal.' Another, when asked to give the service marks out of 10 said, 'a million. A ten is too low.' Most adult service users feel they have had beneficial outcomes through being listened to and understood, helping them at a very vulnerable time. One commented, 'life-changing support was received', and another said, 'my counsellor has a wealth of experience and I have benefited from this.'
Quality of service
All ongoing adoption support work is based on a very thorough assessment. This informs a clear plan which is shared with the service user and family at the outset. The needs of everyone are fully taken into account, for example, if there are birth children in the family, or if the adoptive parents are identified as needing some individual therapeutic work. Technology is also used in a creative way to meet the needs of some service users who may not easily be able to access the service otherwise.
The service is delivered by extremely knowledgeable, professional and skilful staff who bring a range of experience and therapeutic approaches to the interventions. of some service users who may not easily be able to access the service otherwise.
The service is delivered by extremely knowledgeable, professional and skilful staff who bring a range of experience and therapeutic approaches to the interventions. The service is promptly delivered, and where this has not been possible due to funding or commissioning arrangements, the agency has adopted a proactive approach to bring about change. For example, the number of outreach surgeries has been increased in one location due to increased demand which was bringing about delay. Comprehensive reports are written for local authorities, clearly outlining why particular work is needed and the outcomes it is hoped to achieve. Service users have commented that staff try to accommodate their wishes as to timing and venue, although it is not always possible. Feedback from commissioners is positive; they comment that the agency tries to fit people in to outreach surgeries as soon as possible in urgent situations and that they respond quickly.
The agency provides a safe service for all who are involved with or use its services. Prior to receiving a service, all service users receive written information about the limits of confidentiality and the agency's approach to safeguarding concerns, both current and historic, so they are clear about what to expect. Children and young people are given the guide to adoption support at the start of the work so they have information about other agencies they can contact if they have any concerns, as well as how to make a complaint.
Understanding the impact of early abuse, neglect and trauma is a fundamental part of the work undertaken with families and underpins the whole ethos. One adopter commented: 'It has made a huge difference to understanding what is going on and why.'
Leadership and management
The agency is led and managed by people with a passion to deliver the best service possible through continual reflection, evaluation and improvement. They are responsive to the needs of the sector, strive to be innovative and creative, and keep fully abreast of all the developments in the field of adoption through membership of national bodies such as the Adoption Leadership Board and the Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies. The recent merger with another existing adoption support agency was driven by the desire to share best practice, respond to demands and develop new projects. This is already having an impact, for example, with improved training in the north and a more effective database in the south. Staff comment that the agency is 'well steered' and that senior managers have 'energy and vision'.
The staff are similarly committed and passionate about the work they do. One member of staff commented: 'I feel privileged to work in this field.' They are highly skilled, knowledgeable, reflective and professional, and come from a range of disciplines such as social work, counselling and psychotherapy. They are committed to their own professional development and are keen to undertake advanced training to improve their knowledge, skills and competence. The staff feel fully supported by the agency through formal regular supervision as well as group and clinical supervision of a very high quality. This gives them a real insight into their work, enables honest reflection and provides alternative strategies to use when considering complex cases. Good administrative support and improved procedures further enhance the service delivery.
The agency has excellent and effective relationships with the local authorities who commission its services. Commissioners comment about its flexibility, its 'can do' attitude, its responsiveness and transparency. Comments include: 'it works incredibly well'; 'it makes a helpful and active contribution to the consortium'; 'they listen to us'; 'we are really pleased with the service and it delivered over and above what was asked for'; 'they make the best use of resources for the benefit of the service users'; and 'the reports deliver exactly what we want.'