Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.

It’s the conference season in health and social care — as providers, commissioners, people who use services, carers and others gather together in different venues across the country to learn from each other, pick up good ideas and hopefully be inspired to do something different back at base. There’s usually an added benefit of catching up with old friends and colleagues and making new connections.

CQC on the road

Speakers from the Care Quality Commission are in high demand — our speaker engagement team has already dealt with 460 requests so far this year — though that may be an underestimate because I know I’m guilty sometimes of saying yes to people directly without following the proper process!

We do say yes to a lot of the requests because speaking at conferences, taking part in question and answer sessions and chatting to delegates are good ways for us to share our purpose and role, explain our approach and bring people up to date with our progress. It is also a good opportunity for people to challenge and share their views on what CQC is doing and how we are doing it.

Packed schedule

I’m on a bit of a run at the moment — last week I was at the Health+Care conference in Excel speaking in the Home Care Theatre, then taking part in a debate in the Residential Care Theatre about caring for people living with dementia.

I continued the dementia theme giving the keynote address at the Journal of Dementia Care and Dementia Care Matters Conference in Guildford. Yesterday I travelled up to Manchester and joined around 400 members of local Healthwatch organisations at their annual conference organised by Healthwatch England to raise the profile of social care in the important work they do.

And tomorrow, I will be speaking at the conference organised by The King’s Fund focusing on Enhanced Health in Care Homes. I daren’t look at next week’s schedule!

Thank you

Before I go on though — a quick word of thanks to the two people who make sure that I am organised, turn up on time and have a presentation to give. The first is my personal assistant Kim Stoby — looking after me and my diary is a tough job. The second is Sophie-Ure Martin who runs the Speaker Engagement team at CQC. Thank you both — I couldn’t do it without you.


One of the difficulties of my role is fitting everything in and I regularly find myself running in to give the presentation, have a quick chat and leave. Often I look regretfully at the rest of the programme and wish I had the opportunity to stay and listen to other great speakers. But last week, I knew I would be kicking myself if I did that because ahead of me on the programme in Guildford were Jo-Anne Wilson and Craig Edser the manager and activities co-ordinator featured in the Channel 4 programme Dementiaville I raved about in my blog Wit and Wisdom 3 weeks ago.

And how right I was! I sneaked in a few minutes after they had started and was whisked away to a world full of optimism, person-centred care and common sense. Yes, it is hard work and Jo-Anne and Craig were clear their successful approach did not happen overnight but is the result of great leadership together with the commitment and dedication of the whole team to improving the lives of the people they support. They had practical ideas and thought-provoking suggestions by the bucket-load and you got a real sense that they are not complacent but constantly looking to improve.

In my Improvement Top Tips blog I encouraged people to be inspired by others — I certainly was.

Originally published at

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