Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, shares her views with CHP on what makes services Outstanding.
As I am sure you can imagine a lot of my time is taken up with the problems CQC inspectors find in services we rate as Inadequate. That’s right and proper as we have a duty to make sure people are receiving care that is consistently safe, compassionate, effective and high quality. I also know that good providers want us to take action against those services that tarnish the reputation of adult social care as a whole.
But there is a danger for me (and we see this in the pages of the press too) that concentrating on what needs to improve means we could be guilty of ignoring the thousands of good services and the dedication and commitment of so many wonderful staff across the country. I make sure I don’t by treating myself with visits to Outstanding services – it is a great privilege of my role.
I hope you won’t accuse me of hyperbole when I say that visiting an Outstanding service is a joy. You can tell the difference as you cross the threshold, meet the residents and their families and talk to the staff. What makes that difference?
For me it starts with the manager – they set the tone and create the culture; they value and cherish their staff, making sure they feel valued, are developed and encouraged to be the best they can be; they also sincerely care about the people they support, including their families.
What else do I see? An Outstanding service has a transparent, open culture that really does involve people who use services and their families, listens to their concerns and responds positively to suggestions for improvement. Their staff are engaged and motivated, always looking to improve with a ‘can do, will do’ attitude. That openness extends to the local community with strong links, often supportive volunteers and an approach that means people can genuinely have a life, not just a service.
I see so much creativity and innovation in Outstanding services – using art, drama, music and poetry to bring fun and enjoyment into people’s lives, in even the most difficult of circumstances. Animals feature regularly too – not just one-off visitors but resident cats, dogs, rabbits and sometimes even more exotic species. Technology often plays an important part – from using iPads so residents can keep in contact with distant relatives to electronic care planning that frees up staff time for other activities.
There is so much to learn from Outstanding services – you don’t have to visit, read the reports and you will see just what can be done. A standout characteristic though is that Outstanding providers don’t do it to please the regulator, they do it for the people they care for and support. Of course, it is brilliant to have your dedication, enthusiasm and commitment recognised and it is important we do this. But truly Outstanding care home providers get their satisfaction from their residents and their families.
When I read feedback like this, I can understand why: “However, it’s when the going gets tough that a place earns its stripes, and under the fabulous tutelage of [registered manager] the last few days of my family member’s life would seem to have been very special. Without any pain or suffering and without any loss of dignity they passed away, and I will be eternally grateful for all that your staff did.” Mallands Residential Care Home