Inside CQC
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE

In this month’s Care Quality Commission column, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE talks about an upcoming publication highlighting what has driven quality improvement in services.

Time seems to be flying by in 2018. With summer fast approaching, it’s been nearly a year since we published The state of adult social care services 2014 to 2017, presenting the findings from our comprehensive programme of adult social care inspections. This was a hugely important report for CQC: having carried out over 33,000 inspections of around 24,000 different services, we developed a full picture of care quality and safety across England, which we’re continuing to strengthen through our ongoing inspection activity.

The great news is that almost four out of five adult social care services in England continue to be rated as Good or Outstanding. This means that four out of five people receive care that meets The Mum Test – is this service good enough for my Mum (or anyone else I love)? It’s fantastic that there is so much good care and we should celebrate this and recognise the contribution everyone working in these services makes to achieving it. However, there is still too much poor care, with some providers failing to improve.

One thing I hear a lot is that many providers want to improve, but aren’t sure how to do it. With this in mind, I’m delighted that on 7th June we’ll be launching a new report, Driving Improvement, featuring case studies from services that have improved from Inadequate to Good.

These case studies feature a range of services: homecare agencies, residential and nursing homes, and services specialising in support for older people, people with learning disabilities and autism, and people with physical disabilities. It was important to us that the report reflects the broad scope of service types so that managers of struggling services might see something that relates to them.

Before we started developing the case studies, we co-produced our plans with a mixed group of stakeholders to make sure we took the right approach. Everyone agreed it was important that outcomes for people using services should be at the heart of the case studies, so you’ll see this running through the publication. Providers also told us that they wanted to understand what practical measures led to improvement, so at the end of each case study we have listed the management team’s top tips for improvement.

Each case study shares the story of the service and how it improved through the words of the people who were involved in it – the manager, the staff, the people who use the service and their families, and external bodies like the local authority or health staff. I was struck by how powerfully those involved describe the impact of the original Inadequate ratings they received – the devastation of hearing that news, but also the determination to turn things around.

We all know how crucial leadership is to delivering great care. These case studies feature inspiring managers who have gone into Inadequate services, some close to closure, and motivated the staff and community there to change how things are done. They themselves told us it isn’t rocket science – these managers used the CQC report to create an action plan for improvement, communicated the changes clearly to staff and got them on board. I hope their stories will motivate others to take action to improve where it’s needed, and show them practical examples of how it’s been done.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was profoundly moved reading these case studies. People who use these services and their families shared with us the impact the improvement had on their lives, and in some cases, it was truly life-changing. These changes were often made possible when staff were empowered, through training and support from managers, to better understand the people they support. By gaining knowledge of people’s care and health needs, as well as their life stories, likes and dislikes, staff in these services have been able to ensure the people they support truly are at the centre of the care they provide.

I hope you’ll look out for the report in June. We’ll be publishing it on our website and will share it with all providers via our newsletter. If you have improvement stories of your own, please do get in touch – I’d love to hear them.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE is Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at Care Quality Commission. Driving Improvement will be added to this article once published. Sign in to share your improvement stories. Membership required. Not a member? Sign up today, it’s FREE for care providers.

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