The view from
Debbie Pert FCCA
Q. What challenges do you face?
Balancing restricted resources with the ambitions of our organisation! Our largest customers are local authority social service departments. These are facing tough times, so we must work within existing resources to improve services.
Q. What challenges do you expect over the next five years?
More of the same – but with added pressures of tougher bank lending criteria and less favourable lending terms. We have a major redevelopment programme for our care homes for the next five years. We must research and plan this to secure the best terms. We must also develop our staff: recruiting and retaining high quality staff within our resources. Initiatives including our five year ‘Integrated Business Plan’, our new ‘Philosophy of Care’ and the rebranding and restructuring of our organisation have been positively received by our staff..
Q. Can you see opportunities?
There is potential to buy land now for which previously we would have competed with housing developers. There are more organisations that may want to work with us because of financial conditions, creating more efficient use of resources and enabling us to extend our services to more people.
Q. How has your role changed in recent years?
Significantly. I am much more involved in developing our strategy than in day-to-day financial management. The Government’s personalisation agenda and the changing needs and aspirations of our clients mean we are looking further ahead when considering service development.
Q. What irritates you about your job?
Nothing. But I don’t have enough time and resources to achieve everything I would like to. I may not be able to do it now, but I can plan for next year or, if not, the year after!
Debbie Pert is Director of Finances and Resources, Deputy Chief Executive and Company Secretary of Avante Partnership, which supplies care and support services to nearly 4,500 elderly people in Kent, Medway, Bexley and Greenwich. It was formerly Kent Community Housing Trust, or KCHT, and has almost 1,500 staff.