Feb 17

Champions in care

Posted: 8 February 2017

Shirley Lough, registered manager at START and a member of the National Skills Academy for Social Care, says creating ‘Champion’ roles helped them achieve an outstanding rating.

Champions in care

When Southend Therapy and Recovery Team (START) received their Outstanding rating in 2016 the CQC specifically referred to the ‘Champion’ roles that the service has developed.

I think the mix of skills and knowledge needed to provide care for people with complex needs is incredibly broad and beyond what one person can be expected to know or do. As START’s service developed rapidly in 2007 I recognised that the specialist skills required to support this growth needed to be spread across our team.

Through discussions with my senior team we made a list of the subjects and skills that were most important. The team were highly motivated by the idea of growing knowledge and each agreed to develop a ‘Champion’ skill from the list.

I approached social care and health colleagues across the Southend Borough -including nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy colleagues - for support with training and guidance. I’m pleased to say they were all extremely supportive; they shared their skills, recognising how having champions could improve the quality of life for patients. Using their skills and knowledge also helped reduce training costs.

Training was just one part of developing our champions. I met regularly with them to ensure they were competent and confident. I also knew that the being able to share best practice with staff was key to the champion role – so each champion completed a ‘Preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector’ course. This helped them recognise their own learning needs and those of others.

Once the champions were up and running there was a complete shift in their practice. They took pride in their roles, they were autonomous, and in supervision they discussed what they had researched, and how they would were going to share this with other staff.     

I could highlight an example of the positive impact that our champions have made in every area – it’s difficult to pick one over another. Just to take two:

  • Our continence champion now undertakes all continence assessments and orders any necessary supplies immediately; previously a patient would have had to wait for a District Nurse to do this.
  • Our medication champion is responsible for induction of new staff, updates and a monthly ‘drop-in’ session for staff with queries or concerns. 

It’s important to me that we don’t just limit these roles to senior staff. Becoming a champion is a great way to motivate and develop staff. Three of our rehab assistants are now champions in infection control, nutrition and hydration, and tissue viability.

The champion roles helped us receive our Outstanding rating and it was particularly pleasing to see the CQC report and highlight that staff told them ‘they could gain advice and support from each other and found having the champions in care, enables them to keep their practice up-to-date and this helped people receive appropriate care’.


For more information about Skills for Care’s support for registered managers or to become a member of the National Skills Academy visit our dedicated pages for registered managers here.

Looking for help with CQC inspection use Care Improvement Works to access free guides, learning tools and resources, mapped to the Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE).