Empowering the voice of people who draw on social care

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social care

Hearing directly from people who draw on care is absolutely essential for us as the regulator to have a good understanding of quality and what it feels like to receive care. We help ensure the voices of people who draw on care are being heard through our coproduction and Expert by Experience programmes, but I believe there’s more we can do.

Recently I was delighted to be joined on stage by Chris, one of our valued Experts by Experience. Experts by Experience are people who have personal understanding of using or caring for someone who uses health and social care services.

Chris opened our session by telling us about her mum; how to pronounce her name, what she cared about and a bit about her life before dementia with six children. After a few minutes Chris said; “You now know more about my mum than the people who looked after her for five years”.

For all of us listening to Chris and her mum’s story, it highlighted what it truly feels like to be lost in the system. Chris reminded us all what good quality care really means to people. Empowering voices like Chris’s is crucial to our understanding of how people experience care and what needs to improve.

CQC and social care leaders have rightly been challenged by Social Care Future, a growing movement of people with a shared commitment to bring about major positive change in social care, to take the ‘I Pledge’. This pledge states, ‘If I’m asked to speak at a conference or contribute to another kind of public debate about social care I will ask organisers to ensure full and equal contribution from people who draw on social care.’

I instantly wanted to sign up! Then a moment of doubt crept in about whether I could live up to the aspirations of the pledge. Unfortunately, it’s still sometimes difficult to get adult social care onto all types of agendas but our speaker engagement team are exploring how we showcase adult social care at events where organisers are less familiar with the approach of us sharing the platform with people who draw on care.

My commitment is that whenever I’m invited to speak at events, where possible, I will request to share our platform with people who draw on care to enable the audience to hear directly from them. This has an impact on the audience in a way that I never could.

We’ve already made changes to our speaking request process and continue to encourage all event organisers to get on board with this pledge. We speak at a variety of events, so we’ll continue to use our voice to influence this.

It’s not always easy for people to attend events with us so we’re working with our our Experts by Experience teams to create some fantastic videos to share their stories. We’ll make sure that we are always looking for people with different lived experiences to join us on stage or on video to really drive why good quality health and social care is important to people. We’re committed to empowering their voice in all the work that we do and will continue to encourage others to do the same. You can find out more by listening to our latest CQC Connect podcast.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.