The art of being outstanding

Care Quality Commission
4 min readJun 2, 2016

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

Last week we launched our new strategy setting out CQC’s ambitions for the next 5 years.

For adult social care, the focus is very much on evolution not revolution as we improve and target our approach building on the strong foundations we have established since introducing our new methodology in October 2014.

There are four key priorities — the first is to encourage improvement, innovation and sustainability in care and that focus on improvement also dominated my week.

Care improvement

On Wednesday we released our analysis of the 372 homes we had rated as inadequate since October 2014 which were re-inspected by March 2016. The encouraging figures demonstrated that 73% of services had improved their rating with a quarter of those moving from inadequate to good, which is a remarkable achievement. Please look at the details of the analysis and the case studies to ‎see how some of these services turned themselves around.

Unusually, this was a good news story that was covered well by the BBC, The Guardian and others but I was very clear in my comments that while those services that had moved to requires improvement were heading in the right direction, more work was needed to get to good — the standard we all want for our loved ones‎. I was equally clear that where services did not take our concerns seriously and failed to improve on their inadequate rating, then we would take action to make sure their residents got the care they had every right to expect.

Arts in the Care Home

One way that CQC can help services to improve is by shining a light on good practice through reporting on and rating services as good and outstanding. I have highlighted before that a key feature of the outstanding services we see is their person-centred approach which enables people to live full and meaningful lives so I was delighted last week to be invited to speak at the 2016 Arts in the Care Home conference.

Supported by The Baring Foundation, martialled by Sylvie Silver from National Activity Providers Association ‎and organised by Care England and the National Care Forum, the conference brought together some of the most creative and innovative people working in the care home sector. There was so much fun, enjoyment and ideas on show — it was a real pleasure to take part. Take a look at this blog from Des Kelly and this web page from Care England to see a sample of the creative initiatives on offer.

One of my favourites is A Choir in Every Home and their working paper Music, the CQC and NICE which shows how music can address the five key questions we ask of every service. I was also enthralled by Rachel Mortimer’s presentation about Engage and Create — inspiring conversations through art. I could go on — please explore for yourselves!

The art of being outstanding

My presentation highlighted CQC’s description of an outstanding service as one that is “flexible and responsive to people’s individual needs and preferences, finding creative ways to enable people to live a full life.” We have seen some great examples of this:

  • Peregrine House, Whitby — “a varied programme of activity: Zumba, Motivation, large drafts or Connect 4, film events, afternoon tea, pampering sessions, and music. The home supported them to run clubs such as poetry, walking, reading, gardening, Scrabble and singing”
  • Prince of Wales House, Ipswich — “staff were finding creative ways to support people to live a full life — this included aromatherapy, music therapy, and foot, hand and head massage.”
  • Deansfield Residential Care Home, Telford — “people’s individual histories & personalities were valued and made part of their lives, for example, people had a personalised place mat which they had helped make”
  • Links Lodge, Blackpool — “staff had attended a specialist course called ‘iPad to inspire’ to engage with and create a stimulating and fulfilling environment for people living with a learning disability and dementia.”
  • The Old Hall, Billingborough — “reflecting the training they had received…the staff member told us of the importance of music in stimulating memory in people living with dementia… People were supported to attend local groups such as art classes and choirs that they had enjoyed being part of before they moved into the home.”

Making a difference

This approach can have such a positive impact for people. A relative of someone living at Deansfield told our team “My relative was housebound and bedbound when they came here. They can now go out, they have an interest.” At Links Lodge “Relatives told us they were amazed and moved by the changes they saw in their family member when they used the iPads.”

And finally, a lovely story from The Old Hall. A local provider came along to see what they could learn and liked the care template so much they asked “what did the provider want for it?” She asked the residents and they said… a juke box!

Originally published at



Care Quality Commission

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