Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.
Last week started with one of the things I like best — out visiting and speaking to staff and people using services. Thank you to Ian Smith, Chair of Four Seasons, his senior team and the staff and residents at Emberbrook Home in Surbiton.
But I have three things to concentrate on from the rest of the week.
I’ll start with the first training day for inspectors who will be involved in our first wave of “new approach” inspections from April. Although we are still putting the finishing touches to the consultation document (due out in April) setting out how we hope to inspect and rate adult social care in the future, we need to make sure that our inspectors carrying out the new style inspections are confident with the changed methodology.
Everyone recognises that we will be using this time to test and learn so that we can improve for the future. A tremendous amount of effort, informed by our co-production work, has gone into the preparation and it marks a very important shift from assessing compliance with regulations to judging for quality, highlighting good practice and encouraging services to improve. Of course, regulations will continue to be important in providing the basis for any action we may need to take to tackle poor practice.
Change is always a challenge or — to use plain English — bloomin’ difficult. But the inspectors and other staff at the training day were enthusiastic, asked insightful questions and are keen to get started — so am I!
Social Care Curry
There’s sometimes a light-hearted competition at our Monday morning executive coordination meetings about how many breakfasts and dinners we have been invited to. If anyone thinks that’s the glamorous side of a senior job — then think again! It is definitely a great way to meet and connect with people but it also extends the working day significantly and eating for CQC can have a bad effect on your waistline!
But on Thursday, I was at a dinner with a difference — Social Care Curry Club. The brainchild of George Julian and Matt Bowsher, anyone who loves curry and social care is welcome, as long as you are not trying to sell anything. Hosts in venues across the country are self-selecting and your dining companions could be academics, policy makers, social workers, carers, managers, people using services, entrepreneurs, commissioners and yes, even CQC inspectors!
From a casual Twitter conversation and small gathering in Birmingham less than a year ago, it has grown and grown. The cast list in London on Thursday was appropriately varied and inclusive: Sara Ryan, mother of Connor Sparrowhawk was there; so was Chief Social Worker, Lyn Romeo; George herself; Richard Humphries from the King’s Fund came with his wife — I could go on! Even the Care Minister, Norman Lamb pitched up and with good humour had his photo taken with all and sundry.
Social Care Curry will be coming to a venue near you on 5 June and you can learn more from the BBC.
On Tuesday, I attended the funeral of my friend and former boss, Louis Smidt. Louis appointed me to my first general management job over 20 years ago when he was Chief Executive of Camden and Islington Community Services. He ended his NHS career as Chair of West London Mental Health Trust, which includes Broadmoor Hospital — one of the toughest roles in the NHS.
I, like many others, learnt so much from Louis in the early stages of my career — the importance of listening to the voice of patients and people using services, focusing on quality and working in partnership. His real passion was people and he took great joy in spotting talent, sometimes taking risks in appointing promising youngsters to responsible roles — and not just me, we counted 12 people who worked for Louis and went on to be Chief Executives in health and social care. He took a genuine and active interest in our careers long after we had stopped working for him and was always good for a word of advice.
Louis was a great role model, mentor and friend and will be sadly missed by all who knew him, especially his amazing wife, Laura whose care and devotion in recent years has been truly inspiring.