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Never-ending story

In 2015, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) introduced a new way of inspecting all care services to ensure they focussed on the things that matter to people. Inspectors ask the same five questions of each service they inspect:

  • Are they safe?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to people's needs?
  • Are they well-led?

At Brandon, we had a choice about how we approached this new inspection framework; we could either employ a larger quality team to fast-track change or we could take a slower route, embedding quality at every level and put support staff in the driving seat.

CQC's changes were influenced by the Francis Report published in 2013, that stated: 'Everyone should understand and be responsible for standards by which care should never fall'.

This statement sums up how we want to approach quality, going down the 'top-down' route just wasn't going to be right for us. We want all our staff to be leaders on quality, to make the most of their knowledge.

Tanya AbbottWhen I was a support worker I knew I did the job because I cared and I enjoyed working with people, yet I was never really told about the 'musts, the law, the reasons why'. If I had been, I would have felt more informed and able to contribute ideas based on both knowledge and caring.

This is why we developed our own 'Quality Audit Programme' which is based around CQC's five key questions. Completed by teams, it's then audited by colleagues. In the first year, feedback from staff was positive, with many support workers feeling that they had the opportunity to understand and be involved in quality for the first time.

However, the road wasn't immediately smooth. The results from this new way of working were going to take time to come through. We were rightly asked challenging questions about our vision and whether should we continue. Our answer was yes, as we truly wanted to invest in a culture of quality and local leadership.

Each year, we asked teams how we could keep improving the programme. Each year we tweaked our process without altering our destination. Slowly our journey started to improve, with less bumps. The 'Good' ratings started to come through.

Today, with our ratings above the national average for adult social care (PDF, 2.4MB) (92% Good and 1% Outstanding), it feels like we're now reaping the rewards of embedding quality into the heart of all we do at Brandon. We're definitely celebrating, but we're not sitting on our laurels.

Put simply, our journey has been about empowering our staff as leaders. It's about enabling them to become confident pioneers. Ultimately, it's about giving them the right tools and frameworks so they're able to continuously improve the lives of the people they support.

But of course, the best people to tell you more are our staff themselves. You can hear more from them in the short video below.

Tanya Abbott
Head of Quality and Compliance

The importance of quality at Gilbert Scott House