What do Chief Inspectors get up to?

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

I haven’t done a ‘week in the life of’ for a while, so in the interests of openness and transparency I thought last week might be a good one to run through.


As I’ve mentioned before, my week starts with our coordination meeting at 8.30am on Monday morning with my fellow executive directors, sharing our plans and priorities for the week ahead.

I then met with a family who wanted to raise concerns with me about aspects of the care their mother had received. While CQC does not have the role of investigating specific complaints on behalf of individuals, the information that people who use services and their families can share with us is essential in helping determine where, when and what we inspect. I am always mindful of how hard it is to recount difficult and painful situations. It is important that we use people’s insights and experience as well as we can. By the end of the week I had written up our conversation and shared that with the family as well as with the local inspection team to take forward.

An afternoon of catch-ups with members of my team and a vain attempt to control my inbox was followed by singing for my supper with the Board of trustees at the Alzheimer’s Society. Thankfully (for everyone else) I didn’t have to sing but was ever so slightly grilled by my hosts who were interested in the new approach CQC is taking to regulation and inspection; how important dementia is in all of that; integration; and challenges and opportunities for the Alzheimer’s Society. I thoroughly enjoyed the lively discussion and opportunity to share our common aim to improve care and support for people living with dementia. Oh, and the food was quite tasty too!


Tuesday morning began with a session with my coach — a quarterly opportunity for quiet reflection on how I can improve the way I do my job. It doesn’t matter what role you do, how senior or junior you are or indeed how busy — we can all benefit from taking time to assess our own performance and work out what has gone well or badly, what we can learn from and what we can do better.

Refreshed and ready for the fray I returned to Finsbury Tower for our Executive Team meeting — another regular weekly slot. A key focus last week was looking at how we demonstrate our value for money, where we can improve our efficiency and effectiveness and how specific programmes of work will be taken forward. It was a challenging discussion with different perspectives shared but a joint agreement that this work is vital to show how regulation and inspection can add value in the health and social care world.

My evening was spent with Alan Rosenbach, Strategy Lead at CQC who is leaving us at the end of the month. I wanted to say thank you for the support and encouragement he has given me at CQC and in previous roles. It was a lovely evening, though slightly healthier than I anticipated as Alan is doing a massive bike ride in France soon, including the awe-inducing Mont Ventoux, so is eating and drinking very sensibly. Thanks for everything Alan and good luck.


On Wednesday I joined my colleagues in the Registration Team at their meeting in Birmingham. We are responsible for registering services and managers for all the sectors CQC regulates. The team are scattered across the country and work from home so this is an important opportunity to meet, get up-to-date and learn. A varied programme of presentations and discussion followed but my highlight was Zaffy Simone, who described with humour and candour what it is like to be autistic. We all learnt so much — from the impact carpets with bizarre patterns can have to the importance of person-centred care. If you ever get the opportunity to listen to Zaffy, please do!


I had breakfast on Thursday morning with Tony Hunter, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence — a chance to catch up and discuss the work SCIE is doing to provide support to social care providers. A key part of CQC’s role is to encourage services to improve and signposting to resources designed to help like those provided by SCIE is part of that.

The leadership group at CQC (roughly the 100 most senior managers) gets together once a quarter and on Thursday we spent our time looking at our new approach to performance management, improving how we respond to concerns raised by the public and listening to staff experience of learning and development at CQC. One of the speakers was Laura Crehan who is a social care graduate trainee working in our Central team and ably supported by our Head of Inspection, Jemima Burnage. You can read all about why she is interested in a social care career in this lovely blog on the Guardian Social Care Network. Her enthusiasm is inspiring and infectious!

Thursday evening brought a clash of evening engagements but with a bit of fancy footwork (thanks to my colleague, Sally Warren — long story, but thanks Sally) I managed both.

First was the annual reception for The College of Social Work who had hosted a very successful conference that day. There were speeches including a rallying cry for social workers from Chair Jo Cleary and a moving elegy to the importance of social workers from one of my favourite people Clenton Farquharson — one phrase stuck with me “cynicism is easy but it robs people of hope and optimism.”

I then hot footed it down to Victoria for the Skills for Care Accolades award ceremony. The accolades recognise achievements in workforce development in social care and are always a good evening celebrating the unheard of success stories in adult social care. Thursday was no exception. I was so lucky to be sitting on the same table as The Smart Enterprise, up for best provider of learning and development. The Smart Enterprise is a small social care training provider specialising in disability issues. They use a person centred approach to their training employing eight people with disabilities to co-deliver courses. I was chuffed to bits when they won. Congratulations to Sarah, Laura and the team!


Friday the 13th makes me want to stay in bed with the covers over my head but no! I headed to the office and did a lot of sorting out of recruitment issues, signing off guidance documents for April, more inbox activity and talking through some difficult issues we are dealing with across the country. We are recruiting for the Deputy Chief Inspector in the Central region — I know I am biased, but it is a great job. Please take a look!


I was honoured to be invited to speak at CMG’s first family conference which they held in Esher on Saturday. CMG provides a range of services for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities and it was a great opportunity to share with the families the work CQC does and to hear from them directly the issues that matter to them that we need to take into account.

By the time I got back home though, I was ready for a snooze…

Originally published at www.cqc.org.uk.

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

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