Good guys sometimes get the gongs

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

Among the high profile celebrities on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, there were some real gems for us to applaud.

Whether you approve or not of the honours system, it still is the major game in town for a public opportunity to say thank you and well done to people who have given great service or done remarkable things. And there were quite a few from the social care and health world who were honoured for doing just that.

Congratulations Shaun

Congratulations to Shaun Webster from Change People.

Speaking about the award Shaun said “I felt really proud…Never stop believing in yourself, don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do it.”

We know people with a learning disability can do great things — Gavin Harding, an MBE himself, becoming Mayor of Selby this year is just one example. And it is important that we do keep reminding everyone — as the Justice for LB campaign makes abundantly clear, we still have a long way to go before we can say the battle for equal opportunity and regard for people with learning disabilities has been won.

More congratulations

At the end of Carers Week I thought it was fantastic that Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy at Carers UK was awarded an OBE. Emily has been a brilliant advocate for carers and a valued member of our co-production group at CQC.

Others to highlight are Brian Walsh, Executive Director at Coventry City Council; Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society and Ciaran Devane, former Chief Executive of MacMillan Cancer and now at the British Council. All three have made a huge impact in each of their roles.

I know there are many others, including CQC’s own Regina Allanah who was awarded the British Empire Medal for her voluntary service to the community in Haringey, but there are two people both honoured with OBE’s who I want to single out — because of what they have done but also because I am proud to call them good colleagues and friends.

Congratulations Sharon

The first is Sharon Allen, Chief Executive of Skills for Care.

Sharon has been awarded an OBE for services to Social Care, Homeless People and Housing — a testament to a career-long commitment to public service since becoming a social worker. As Chief Executive of Skills for Care since 2010 Sharon has been instrumental in transforming the organisation to meet the needs of the diverse social care workforce working constructively with employers and partners across the sector.

Sharon is passionate about social care and has been a strong voice making sure that the needs of people who use services are heard and acted upon. She is also incredibly generous with her time as a committed member of the Think Local Act Personal board, mentoring emerging leaders and playing an active role with the ACEVO. Sharon has also been a great support and friend to me over the last few years — when I need a moment to reflect and recharge over a drink with someone who understands, I know who I can turn to. But next time, I’ll treat you to champagne Sharon!

Congratulations James

The second is my colleague at CQC, James Titcombe, our National Advisor on Patient Safety, Culture & Quality.

James was a project manager in the nuclear industry but following the death of his baby son Joshua, his battle for answers eventually led to the independent investigation into standards of maternity care at Furness General Hospital (FGH) between 2004 and 2013 which was published in March this year. James has been a tireless campaigner for patient safety, sharing his family’s painful story to promote a better culture in health care. As I wrote when the report was published, the lessons from Morecambe Bay are relevant to all of us in social care too and we have James to thank for that.

James joined CQC in 2013 and his special brand of humanity and curiosity has made a real difference to us. He too is generous with his time, always a good bet for a chat at the end of the day and, when needed, a comforting hug. I haven’t seen him yet to congratulate him in person but there’ll be lots of hugging involved when I do James!

More good guys

But while we can celebrate the achievements of those honoured at the weekend, we know that there are many more people working in social care or supporting loved ones, who don’t get the recognition they deserve. Some of those will have the opportunity to shine on Friday as part of Care Home Open Day, the annual invitation from care homes to their local communities to visit, meet staff and residents, learn about the services on offer and see what good care can look like for themselves.

Along with over 100 CQC staff and inspectors, I will be taking part visiting homes in Manchester, Leeds and Scarborough and I am really looking forward to it. If you are involved, I hope your day goes well and no doubt I will tell you all about it next week.

In the meantime — congratulations and well done to Shaun, Emily, Brian, Jeremy, Ciaran, Regina, Sharon, James and everyone else celebrating their well-deserved place in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Originally published at

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