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Sustainable growth - doing the right thing often takes longer.

An article by Sharon Pearson, Chief Operating Officer

This year, The Aurora Group is celebrating its eighth birthday and the achievement of a significant milestone, I am proud to say that we are now supporting over 1,000 children, young people and adults. We are immensely proud of this achievement and it feels time to pause for thought and reflect on our journey to date.

With a shared vision to transform the lives of those we support, we embarked on a journey of growth to enable our services to reach more children, young people and adults. Every provider has their own journey and story of growth, each at their own pace. Aurora’s journey is a purposeful and considered one, focusing on achieving a further reach without compromising quality. 

Do not underestimate the impact growth has on a whole organisation. It impacts every aspect of a Group; Operations, Finance, Systems, Estates, HR and Quality. Developing and being able convey an appetite for quality across a whole group drives ambition and collaborative working. Getting the quality right first and foremost has to be the priority. The day-to-day delivery of safe and effective services against a consistent quality framework, by skilled and confident operational teams is key. Through this approach the teams live and deliver to our values and support our wider community to do the same, supporting the development of new services and welcoming new services with a real passion and eye for quality.

It will come as no surprise that the challenges of recruitment and retention remain the toughest we as a sector have faced in recent times. Offering starting salaries that compete with, for example, local supermarkets is almost impossible, meaning time invested in clear recruitment, retention, training and wellbeing strategies is critical. Staff need to feel as important as the children, young people and adults, with a shared passion for positively impacting lives.  Focusing on quality and clear, relatable values have been key in building reputation, and both retaining and attracting those staff which share our vision and commitment. 

I feel very proud of the whole Aurora family, while each has different roles and responsibilities, our vision and values unite us. Working as one team provides confidence and allows us to expand our horizons and innovate and contribute more widely to our communities through shared commitments including NetZero by 2030.

Process, process, process is a mantra leaders hear me repeating time and time again. Having robust processes, policies and systems; which enable individuals to follow process and access important data; is key to maintaining safety in a growing organisation. Such systems support consistent safeguarding practices, reporting and data access to help us understand and respond to trends, keeping everyone safe. Investing in these and a central team has been key to developing policies, procedures, processes, systems and frameworks to convey and monitor our high expectations, enabling us to continue to grow safely. The quality and business development teams understand the nature of our work and provide, flexibility, support, challenge, guidance and robust monitoring to support safe and effective practice.

Communication is not something to bring out of the cupboard when things go wrong. Our sector is all about people and we perform better for the benefit of those we support if effective communication is prioritised. This is especially important in times of pressure, when deadlines for new builds are looming, recruitment is to the wire and there are so many other things to focus on. It is people who carry these important tasks over the line and regular updates and check-ins are pivotal to keeping everyone engaged.

Listening to all our stakeholders and ensuring channels of communication stay open is important. When times are tough and topics uncomfortable our instinct is to batten down the hatches, but this is the opposite of what should be done. Aurora regularly seeks and welcomes honest feedback from, for example, the people we support and their families, our staff and local authority partners. This feedback informs every decision we make, from what food is served at lunch to where new services should be opened.  

Listen, communicate, learn, take action, have fun and never lose sight of the vision. This may seem obvious but it’s more difficult to achieve when the day to day takes over. 

1,000 placements is a great milestone, but it’s only a milestone. We continue to focus on our purpose and the future, doing the right thing extending our reach and growing in a way that benefits more vulnerable children, young people and adults, by ensuring we take the right and not necessarily the quickest path.