Sep 16

What makes outstanding care is leaders and managers

Posted: 21 September 2016

Andy Tilden, Director of Sector Development - Skills, Standards, Learning, Qualifications and Apprenticeships


I would encourage all leaders and managers and those commissioning care to read it. Many of the points John has raised are equally relevant to other services and the vital role played by managers and leaders. This week’s “What makes care homes outstanding?” article by John Kennedy in The Guardian is excellent.

In more than 90% of cases, services that were rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ for being ‘well-led’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) were also rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ overall.  This is a very strong indicator that if you have the right managers and leaders, other standards of care are likely to be equally good (and outstanding). Conversely 84% of services rated as inadequate overall were inadequately led, and management churn and change is strongly associated with inadequate services.

Skills for Care firmly believes that registered managers are uniquely placed to lead and influence the culture of the service, to improve and maintain care quality, and to achieve efficiencies within the system. The realisation of integrated, personalised services will be incumbent on their insight and expertise on the ground. 

Our own analysis of inspection reports and engagement with registered managers has highlighted the importance of their experience, skills, abilities and continued development as well as their focus on seeking out best practice, leading by example and being visible and engaged with staff, those who need care and support, their families and the wider community.

Succession planning is key to continued success, as evidenced by John’s article where one provider originally rated outstanding was subsequently rated inadequate due to the loss of a trusted manager. New talent is needed to sustain care providers in meeting both the standards of care needed and lead the organisation to future success. Higher Apprenticeships, sector specific qualifications and development programmes all make this practical so providers should not wait until the registered manager resigns to decide what to do.

The value of registered managers coming together, sharing ideas and sharing knowledge and experience should not be underestimated. The feedback we receive from our registered manager networks about the value of coming together with common goals and not working in isolation of other services is deeply encouraging. We would encourage those not currently engaged to consider this practical means of strengthening your service and forging lasting relationships with other leaders and managers.

There are multiple other opportunities to develop new and existing managers and we will be publishing our revised Manager Induction Standards next month which includes additional focus on integration, resilience, digital skills, entrepreneurial skills and innovation. 

Our registered manager membership provides access to exclusive resources and support, including a practical handbook and regular in-depth communications from specialists within the sector and is a great way to keep informed of latest practice.

In terms of programmes, registered managers have been helping us to develop a new opportunity for managers and leaders wishing to better understand what it means to be well-led and how to achieve this with their own practice. Our new Well-Led programme commences from January 2017 and provides an opportunity for registered managers to deliver high quality care in line with the expectations of a well-led service - email leadership@skillsforcare.org.uk for more information on taking part.

Finally, we know that services want to understand how to be rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ across all areas of CQC inspection. Evidently, the majority are achieving the former but ‘outstanding’ may be a longer term ambition. Skills for Care will be publishing our own guidance in early 2017 based on findings from the first two years of the CQC new approach to inspection. 

We know from services rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ so far that there is excellent examples to share from the sector and we are keen to hear about what approaches have proven particularly effective. If you have a story to share, please email employer.engagement@skillsforcare.org.uk