Dec 17

Talking about quality

Posted: 11 December 2017

Starting a conversation with an open mind on what quality means to you, people and organisations you work with is always the right place to begin any discussion about quality.

Any consideration of quality is likely to produce a multitude of diverse opinions, all of which will have a degree of validity. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) new quality improvement resource for adult social care has been designed to aid those discussions.

From my perspective quality is about how we work together to ensure that everything we do respects, values, and is informed by, the person with care and support needs and their family. There will be times when these views will be in conflict with each other and that is okay. Through transparent and honest exploration we can ensure that multiple versions of what quality means can coexist and inform each other.

The NICE standards in the resource are based on evidence of what will make the biggest difference to improving quality. NICE’s resource uses the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) key lines of enquiry as it’s over all framework. This is helpful as it makes it easy to cross reference the content with other material.  For example, in the well-led section one of the statements highlights that making sure employees have a named senior manager who makes employee health and wellbeing is a priority.

For me, the key thing about this statement is that it recognises the impact an organisations senior team can have on their workforce and the importance of taking employee health and wellbeing seriously. In work that Skills for Care are about to publish on workforce productivity one of the things that we have found is that how well looked after and valued the employees feel has a big impact on productivity. I have often wondered about the link between sickness levels, vacancies and presentism and how well organisations are led. Certainly, if we want our workforce and our organisations to provide quality care and support then we have to expect that those workers are well cared for and supported. If an organisation grows too fast or too big that it starts to forget about its obligations to its workforce, how can we expect that workforce to remember its obligations to the people they support and subsequently to ensuring people get quality care and support?

By combining the NICE resource with Skills for Care resources, such as the common core principles materials and the ‘Good and outstanding care guide’ you have a good starting point for a discussion about quality. Not every statement and every piece of NICE evidence or every Skills for Care resource will need to be used in every circumstance. But that’s the beauty of open debate. It makes you think.

Jim Thomas, Programme Head, Workforce Innovation 

More on the common core principles here

More on the 'Good and outstanding care' guide here