MA Consultation and the Organisation (Psychoanalytic Approaches) Tavistock Clinic/University of East London (2002)
Advanced Diploma in Business and Financial Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance (1998)
MSc Social Policy and Planning, London School of Economics (1987)
BSc (Hons 2:1) Science for the Remedial Professions Polytechnic of Central London (1985)
Diploma in Occupational Therapy, St Loye's Exeter (1969)
Penny West originally qualified as an occupational therapist and has many years’ experience as a senior manager in health, social services and social housing. She draws upon her further studies to develop her practice and skills as a coach, consultant and facilitator.
Penny has worked independently since 1998 as a consultant on a diverse range of projects, mainly organisations delivering services to older people and people with mental health needs. One of her main clients was the Centre for Mental Health Services Development England at King’s College London (which became the Health and Social Care Advisory Service) and has worked with the Mental Health Foundation as an associate consultant. Penny undertakes a range of work including whole system reviews and service development, consulting with and working with service users and other stakeholders, in the mental health, social care and housing fields to draw up strategies and action plans to achieve tangible and relevant improvements in health and well-being. Penny has recently led on the development of a mental health service user involvement strategy for a PCT in East London; a joint mental health strategy for older people in North London and has worked with a number of voluntary organisations to embed the concept of "recovery" within their organisational culture. Penny uses open space technology and solution-focused approaches, for individual coaching; team development events; action learning sets and longer term consultancy to organisations. Penny is a committee member (treasurer) of the UK Association for Solution Fcoused Practice.
CIPFA Advanced Diploma in Business and Financial Management (CIPFA Education Centre 1994-6 research thesis: Business Planning for DSOs)
Diploma in Housing Management (Hackney College 1973-6 - Institute of Housing and Guinness Trust prizes 1976)
Post Graduate Diploma in Social Administration (London School of Economics 1972-3)
Degree: BA Hons History (Trinity Hall, Cambridge 1969-72).
Robert has been working in social housing since 1973. He spent 18 years in operational management, chiefly in housing management, but also in housing aid, reaching the position of co-ordinator of 4 housing neighbourhoods. In 1991 he changed track and moved to work in policy, commissioning and service development. His last post was at second tier level in an Inner London borough, where he was responsible for the commissioning and development of a wide range of internal and external housing and maintenance services.
He became an independent consultant in September 2001. His first major project was as a member of the team setting up the innovative Islington street properties PFI scheme which went live in 2003. Subsequently as a consultant he has worked with over 90 organisations, including 49 RSLs, 20 retained stock councils and 16 ALMOs, and other housing-related agencies and companies. He was appointed an Affiliate Housing Inspector in early 2003, and carried out 15 inspections for the Commission, of which he led five.
His work has included a wide range of projects to review and improve services, and to help organisations plan for service improvement. He has reviewed service structures, advised on improving VFM & efficiency and helped landlords to set service standards and measure performance. He carried out an important private sector procurement project in 2008. He has been involved in high-level mediation, carried out training for a national service improvement network, undertaken Due Diligence prior to an RSL amalgamation, and prepared service specifications for use in New Partnerships in Affordable Housing programme.
Recent unsolicited client feedback on Robert’s work has included the following:- “a top quality piece of work (that) is very helpful to us… excellent value for money” (large metropolitan retained stock council); “one of the best pieces of work (we) have ever seen” (provincial RSL group); “the report is great – very straightforward and easy to understand” (large metropolitan RSL group); “you have been brilliant” (London ALMO).
Robert has been working in social housing since 1973. He spent 18 years in operational management, reaching the position of co-ordinator of 4 housing neighbourhoods, before moving in 1991 to work centrally in policy, commissioning and service development. His last post was at second tier level in an Inner London borough, and he was responsible for the commissioning and development of a wide range of internal and external housing services, including housing management, repairs and estate cleaning. He was also lead Best Value officer for housing services. Subsequently he worked on a secondment basis for 5 months for Islington Housing Services as commissioning adviser, and became an independent consultant in September 2001 (working with Penny West under the aegis of Orchard Solutions). He completed work on the Islington street properties PFI in September 2003 – this was the first housing PFI to go live. He was appointed an Affiliate Housing Inspector in early 2003, and since August 2003 has completed thirteen service and DCPA inspections for the Commission. Since early 2005 he has led four housing inspections, including the major wide-ranging inspection of the Riverside Housing Group and the re-inspection of Chester Housing Trust. He has also completed a number of performance management, staff review, inspection support and other projects for local authorities, ALMOs and housing associations.
Robert combines the benefit of extensive frontline operational experience with a practical knowledge of partnering and running a mixed economy of service providers, and understands and is committed to involving customers at all stages. He is strong in the areas of performance management and improvement and service planning, and believes all managers need to update their skills continuously. He believes that organisations must communicate more effectively with customers and that plain English should become the norm. He is an advocate of Solution-Focused Practice and applies this approach wherever appropriate in his consultancy work.