This is my final ‘Inside CQC’ column because, as you may have heard, I will be leaving the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at the end of 2018 to take up a new appointment as Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. I want to start by saying a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has written to and tweeted me with good wishes about my news. I have been overwhelmed by your kind words.
When departures are announced, we like to look back at what has been achieved and wonder about what changes might come in the future.
Reflecting on progress and improvements is important, and I am proud of how CQC has changed in the five years I have been Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care. We have cemented our commitment to ensuring people who use services are at the centre of everything we do and to working in co-production with everyone impacted by our work. We have completed and built on a full round of comprehensive inspections since launching our new approach to regulation in 2014 and this has allowed us to develop an unrivalled knowledge about quality in the sector.
We have used our independent voice to talk about the importance of adult social care and speak honestly about the challenges facing the sector. We have matured as an organisation; building public confidence in our ability to carry out our role and encouraging providers to improve, as well as holding them to account for poor care. Of course, there is always more to do and I think I have left enough of that for my successor to get their teeth into!
Looking to the future, there are big challenges ahead for adult social care and the role CQC plays in raising the profile of it; being a champion for quality and speaking truth to power about the state of the sector will continue to be vital.
Some of you have been worried whether all this will continue after I have left. But please be assured, what we have built together is bigger than one person and I have a great team to carry on the good work. The progress we’ve made has been possible because we have worked in co-production with people who use services, their carers and families, providers, staff, commissioners and national bodies. CQC knows this is how to get things done – co-production not only helps us strengthen our relationships with our stakeholders, it’s a common-sense approach to making sure that we’re doing the right thing for the people who matter most and that we understand how our decisions will impact on others.
Being clear about standards and not compromising on quality for people who use services is something CQC will remain totally committed to. Back in 2013, I first talked about the Mum test – asking ourselves ‘Is this service good enough for my Mum (or anyone else I love)?’ – and this human focus now threads through all our work.
The new case studies in our Equally outstanding resource show that quality improvement can and will be made when providers take a person-centred, human rights approach to care, and CQC has a crucial role in sharing this learning with the sector. There’s more to do in this space and I know the team at CQC are full of ideas for the future.
The focus on person-centred care at CQC mirrors what’s happened across the sector. This rang true at the relaunch of Making it Real, a framework to support good personalised care. It ensures people who use services are squarely at the centre for everyone working in and using adult social care – just like the Mum test.
Whatever challenges and change the future may bring, the Mum test is here to stay. It gets to the heart of why we’re all in this sector – to make a difference for people who use services, their carers and families.
I’ll finish by adding that I won’t be saying goodbye to adult social care when I leave CQC – as the 42,000 nurses who work in adult social care will appreciate – and I will keep championing this sector and the dedicated, skilled people who work in it. Thank you for being a part of my CQC adventure.
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE is Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission. Share your thoughts and feedback on Andrea’s column below.