Posted: 23 April 2019
A culture for improvement involves listening to everyone who’s involved in your service and having an open process for feedback. This can help you to make improvements that have a real impact and improve the experiences of people who need care and support and your staff.
People who need care and support, families and staff have a unique role to play in identifying what adult social care services need to improve, coming up with solutions and ensuring that any changes bring better outcomes. When you make improvements, it’s important that they’re involved in the process from the beginning, if they want to be, and that your culture enables and supports this.
Services that use people’s views to improve, tend to have cultures that are open, transparent and inclusive. This #ExpOfCare week, we want to share tips about how you can make this happen and share examples from services that have done it successfully.
“We approach continuous improvement by having an open and transparent culture. We use feedback from our staff and the people we support to identify the areas that we need to improve in. Unless you have that transparent approach, you’re not able to identify the key areas for improvement.”
Gail Godson, Director of Community Care and Service Delivery, Home Instead Senior Care (West Lancashire and Chorley)
Reviewing where you are now
You need to start by identifying the problem or areas for improvement, and there are lots of methods you can use to gather people’s views and experiences to review where you are now, including:
- one to one interviews
- team meetings
- improvement forums
- focus groups
- comment books
- verbal feedback.
Examples in practice
“On a regular basis, we ask all professionals, family members, relatives and friends to complete a feedback questionnaire to gather their views, suggestions and comments about our services. We use the results to analyse our service and make the necessary changes to improve quality.”
Aidan Spence, Managing Director, The Grove (Connifinn Ltd.)
“Listening to and consulting the people you support is a priority. You should give everyone opportunities to give feedback and use different ways of communicating to do this. This will ensure that your services can be tailored to meet the needs and wishes of the people you support.”
Philippa Shirtcliffe, Head of Care Quality, Quality Compliance Systems
Planning and implementing improvements
When you’ve identified what you want to improve, you need to decide how you’re going to do it. The people you support and your staff have some of the best insights to come up with solutions and make improvements happen.
Here are some of the ways you can do this.
- Tell the people you support and your staff the outcomes of your CQC inspection and/or other evaluation outcomes.
- Ask them for their practical solutions to help you to improve. You could do this through team meetings, supervisions, care plan reviews, resident meetings or informal conversations.
- Consider how everyone in your service can help you to achieve the improvements you want to make, and ensure that they know their own involvement and responsibility in making the change(s) happen.
- Use the existing experience, skills and knowledge of the people you support and your staff to help you implement improvements.
- Keep everyone up-to-date with progress.
Examples in practice
“The key to providing outstanding care is having leadership behaviour at all levels, that ensures everyone in your team feels equally important and has regular opportunities to learn new skills. The success of Old Hastings House is based on the whole team working together. We’ll never stop learning or challenging each other to improve.”
Jason Denny, Registered Manager, Old Hastings House
“I always consult staff. They’re the ones working on the front line…During staff meetings, they always come up with ideas to help us to improve.”
Jane Wilson, Registered Manager, Avalon Enterprise (UK) Ltd.
“One of the most effective things we do is to hold a weekly meeting with representatives from each department. When we first start the [improvement] process, we keep this group informed about the changes that we’re planning to make to improve the service. We ask them to discuss this with their wider teams and it’s very useful to get regular feedback from this group about what works and what doesn’t. When staff see that you’re listening to their feedback, they start to feel that they’re part of the change.”
Alex Ball, Group Operations Coordinator, Stow Healthcare
Monitoring your performance
Monitoring your performance will show if, and how, your improvements are making a difference, and can also help you to identify further actions and/or other areas for improvement.
You can involve lots of people in this process, including:
- people who need care and support, their families, friends and advocates
- other professionals, such as social workers and district nurses
- your staff
- the public
- CQC inspectors
- board members and trustees
Examples in practice
“As well as checking whether varied and nutritious food options are available, we sit with residents at meal times and sample the food each month. We then write a report on our experiences of eating with them in the dining room and suggest areas for improvement. On one occasion we felt that the quality of sausages in a casserole could have been better, so we arrange a sausage tasting session with residents to offer them the choices.”
Ruth French, Operations Director, Stow Healthcare
Resources to help
The tips and examples in this article are taken from our new ‘Guide to improvement.’
The guide explains how to identify, plan and implement improvements across your service. It draws on ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ practice to help your service to, not only meet CQC expectations, but exceed them. It includes checklists and examples to help you to identify what your service needs to improve, and to develop an action plan to implement the required changes.
Download your free copy of the guide here.