In 2015, my care home, Nazareth Lodge in Dorset achieved its Outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It was a fantastic accolade and one we are all proud of. However, we wanted to do more, we wanted to share expertise and help others on their journey to Outstanding.
To do this, I spoke to Martin Green at Care England and asked his thoughts on founding an organisation of Outstanding rated providers to work together. Martin reached out to other members who had also achieved Outstanding and our founding members cover a broad range of services, from learning disabilities to dementia, residential and nursing care.
We launched the Outstanding Society in 2016 and involved the CQC from the start. Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care was very supportive. We held our first meeting with 40 members, this increased to 80 for the second meeting. The meetings usually involve guest speakers and we’ve had the CQC and Skills for Care present, we also had Professor Ursula Gallagher speak on safeguarding. Our next meeting is with Andrea on 11th January and the founding members try to meet regularly.
Although we all currently hold an Outstanding rating, we all face re-inspection and need to demonstrate what we’ve achieved and initiated since our last inspection to try to retain the rating. Earlier this year, 10 Outstanding homes had been re-inspected, five had dropped to Requires Improvement, one dropped to Good and four retained Outstanding.
It is this which makes us want to roll out the Outstanding Society, to share best practice and disseminate information. We would like to begin supporting those providers with a rating of Requires Improvement who want to raise their standards.
We’re hoping it will become a befriending programme. I believe with eight to 16 weeks of contact, support and mentoring, we can offer ideas and encouragement to managers who have an awful lot of potential to improve their services, but who might just need some mentoring to achieve it. We would like to have 50-60 providers and managers around the country offering to befriend and help launch this service.
Solutions don’t always need to cost the earth either. Our home has a team of volunteers who visit residents and become advocates for them. We host cheese and wine parties where families and our volunteers are invited. Residents enjoy themselves and having events and regular visitors makes them feel special, especially for those residents who don’t have any family or whose relatives are unable to visit often. Knowing that someone outside the staff is there for them, visiting regularly and getting to know them really gives them a boost.
Simple solutions are effective. I send all residents a postcard when I go on holiday. Many residents don’t get post anymore and it’s lovely to receive something addressed to them. It makes them feel part of the family. We also have animals in our home; I bring in my dogs, we also have chickens. We’ve even set up an enterprise making and selling dog biscuits with all proceeds going to Cinnamon Trust.
We also have conversation points on the back of our menus. They’re just simple things that staff or residents can use to start conversation and make meal times more enjoyable for everyone.
These things don’t cost much but really contribute to the family environment of the home. Attention to detail goes a long way too. These ideas, along with guidance on specific areas, could help to break down the issues other homes face and work to overcome them. It’s important to look at every area of the business, what opportunities there are for improvement with care, food and daily life.
Looking to the future, we’d really like the Outstanding Society to pick up pace next year. With new inspections now in force, there’s more that can be done. We’d like to get every Outstanding provider to share what they do to help all providers.
We need to share issues and common problems and how they can be overcome. We can’t rest on our laurels, all providers are being re-inspected against the new framework, inspectors are looking for more examples of innovation and we can’t stand still whilst we support others to move forward. There’s always room for improvement.
We’ve achieved a lot in such a short space of time. We’re not funded, we’re all providers with our own homes to run. The support from Professor Martin Green at Care England, Georgina Turner at Skills for Care and the CQC helps no end, but we need to do more to get everyone on board.
Camilla Trimble is Owner of Nazareth Lodge in Dorset. Email: email@example.com
Providers interested in joining the Outstanding Society or calling on the assistance of its members should contact Care England for more information. www.careengland.org.uk