About Me Care & Support is a social enterprise working with people who have a sensory impairment to provide personalised, community-inclusive care and support solutions.
Officially launched in July 2012, we are a wholly owned subsidiary of the charity Deafblind UK. Our purpose is to expand the opportunities, choice and control that people with a sensory impairment have within social care and ensure that our services meet their individual needs and aspirations.
As well as working with people who have a sensory impairment, About Me provides a dedicated training service for social care professionals. We deliver bespoke training opportunities in areas of sensory awareness, assessment and communication.
In essence our mission is to provide customers with community-based personalised social care services which put the individual in control, supporting them to achieve their aspirations and lifestyle choices. This not only helps the individual but also benefits the wider community, ensuring that the people we serve have opportunities to participate within society and contribute to their local communities.
Any surpluses made by About Me Care & Support will either be reinvested back into the social enterprise or endowed to Deafblind UK, supporting the charitable objectives of the organisation.
Who we serve
About Me works with people who have a sensory impairment, this includes people who are blind, partially sighted, deafened, deaf, deafblind or have a combined sight and hearing loss. We support many people with a sensory impairment who also have a learning disability, physical disability or mental health issue.
In the UK there is a significant need for quality, community-based services that are focused on the needs and aspirations of the individual. To give an indication of the numbers of people in the UK with a single or dual sensory impairment the facts and figures are as follows.
There are circa 400,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK. However, it is estimated that there are almost two million people in the UK living with a sight loss, approximately 1 person in 30 (RNIB, Sight Loss UK, 2012).
Deaf and Hearing Impairment
There are more than 10 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss – or one in six of the population. Approximately 6.4 million are of retirement age (65+) and about 3.7 million are of working age (16 – 64).
From the total number of 10 million, more than 800,000 are severely or profoundly deaf. (RNID, Facts and Figures on hearing loss and tinnitus, July 2011)
Deafblind and Combined Sight and Hearing Loss
The Department of Health says people are deafblind, “if an individual’s sight and hearing loss causes difficulties with communication, access to information and mobility”. There are an estimated 356,000 people with a combined sight and hearing loss in the UK. Of this number 62% are aged 70 or over (Sense).
We know that for our services to deliver excellence it is essential that people feel in control of their support. Each support package is planned and delivered with the individual to meet their needs and aspirations. All our services are truly bespoke and personalised, with individuals involved at every stage from the planning and recruitment to delivery and evaluation.
About Me is registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England.
Our future plans
The way in which social care services are provided in England is changing rapidly. The introduction of “Personalisation” is driving a model of social care where the individual is in control and at the centre of the services they receive.
This is the only type of service that About Me delivers. Our future plans are all geared towards expanding, giving more people with a sensory impairment greater choice and control over the delivery of their social care services.
We currently work in more than 40 local authority areas across England. We are keen to both increase the number of people that we serve in these areas as well as expanding the geographical reach of About Me.
We are particularly keen to further increase the number of people we serve who have a sensory impairment with additional needs. We can offer alternatives to traditional services which enable people to remain in their local area and get involved with their communities. By providing the appropriate care and support, we can meet the individual’s needs and together work towards achieving their aspirations.
We are proud of the customer focused, personalised services that About Me delivers. However, we know and understand that striving for total customer satisfaction and perfection in service delivery is a journey that never ends. We will be undertaking annual reviews of our services to identify sucesses and areas where we want to improve or enhance our service offering. Development plans will be largely based on the experiences, feedback and wishes of our customers. Everyone who uses our services, and when appropriate their family and friends, will be given the opportunity to tell us what has worked well, citing areas for improvement and opportunities that would benefit our customers in the future.
Keeping our organisation’s focus on the customer is the only way that we can continually improve and is integral to our success.
Our Board of Trustees is responsible for the general control and management of the administration of About Me and our parent charity Deafblind UK.
Our Board is predominantly made up of people who have a sensory impairment and are aware of the needs of people requiring quality and community based services. Find out more about our Board below:
Bob Nolan, Chair
“Following my recent retirement from Shell and my family’s move back to England after 26 years north of the border, I am delighted to become the next Chair of Deafblind UK. I’m really excited about working with an outstanding group of people who we are fortunate to have as our staff, volunteers and trustees. Also following many years as Chair of our sister organisation in Scotland, I know we have opportunities to build on best practices from both organisations. I also believe that deafblind people can achieve anything we want with the right support, so let’s get out there and do great things together and continue to make Deafblind UK an organisation we can all be proud of. Thank you.”
John Greenhalgh, Treasurer
John is a Chartered Accountant and joined the Deafblind UK Board in 2011. He has experience working in senior positions across a wide range of sectors including care.
John Churcher, Trustee
John has been a member of Deafblind UK for over 20 years and is proud to have become a Trustee in April 2017. As a member of the GB paraclimbing team and the first blind person to summit The Eiger, John strongly represents our members who are determined to not let sight and hearing loss get in the way of what they want to achieve! John lives with his wife, daughter, guide dog, Daisy and his retired guide dog, Annie.
Ruth Bridgeman, Trustee
Ruth took early retirement from her post as National Director for the Peer Review Programme at NHS England in 2015 and was working with Cancer Research UK until becoming a Trustee of Deafblind UK in April 2017. She has worked with the Department of Health, National Cancer Action Team and NHS and was previously an Assistant Director with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
Ruth and her husband enjoy watching rugby and are Leicester Tigers season ticket holders.
Our Management Team
Steve Conway, Chief Executive Officer
Steve was commissioned in the Royal Marines in 1976. During a varied career which spanned 26 years he held several key appointments including; Signals Officer for the Special Boat Service, Adjutant of the Commando Training Centre, Director of Land and Amphibious Operations in NATO Allied Forces Northwestern Europe, and Commanding Officer of Royal Marines Reserve Scotland. On leaving the Royal Marines in 2002, Steve joined NHS Scotland as the National Emergency Planning Officer responsible for ensuring the NHS could respond to large-scale incidents. In 2004, he was appointed as Chief Executive of NHS Orkney, where he undertook a major service redesign programme, and at a national level was involved with the introduction of the new NHS Terms and Conditions. After three years in Orkney he moved to NHS National Services Scotland as the Director of Strategy and Support until 2011 when he was appointed Chief Executive of Erskine, a large charity that provides care, accommodation and support services to armed forces veterans across Scotland.
Steve and his wife Heather live near Stamford, and have a son who lives in Toronto and a daughter who lives in London. His hobbies include sailing and cycling.