Want to take your service from Good to Outstanding? Join a network of mentors! – By Jodie Allen-Cawley, Group Lead Quality Manager at Lifeways

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Across the world of work, ‘from good to great’ is a well-worn expression. But the clichéd phrase begs a very real question - which many managers of supported living or residential care must ask themselves often: How do I take our service from ‘Good’ to the coveted ‘Outstanding’ (or Excellent) rating?

Across the world of work, ‘from good to great’ is a well-worn expression.

But the clichéd phrase begs a very real question – which many managers of supported living or residential care must ask themselves often: 

How do I take our service from ‘Good’ to the coveted ‘Outstanding’ (or Excellent) rating?

Thankfully, if you work for a large, established team of professionals, finding an answer’s not hard.

At Lifeways, we work in 1,500 locations, supporting almost 5,000 adults, and we have teams of in-house support functions that are able to lead and support Managers on this journey.

And as we operate across the UK, in the three different regulatory environments of England, Scotland and Wales, we’re very mindful that each regulator has a different approach – from England’s CQC to Scotland and Wales’ separate Care Inspectorates.

But of course, genuinely great support is great support no matter where it’s located.

Introducing G2O

To help fulfil our vision of helping people live independent and happy lives through extraordinary support, in 2019, we set up the Good to Outstanding Managers Network – or G2O for short.

The network helps Lifeways’ Registered Managers and Area Managers across the UK to support each other on their own Good to Outstanding journey.

By joining a network of mentors and mentees across the organisation, our managers share their skills and experiences, discuss developments in our sector, pool intelligence, and celebrate success. The outcomes from these meetings are fed back to Lifeways’ Executive Leadership Team – so there’s plenty of buy-in and commitment at board level.

Getting to Outstanding or Excellent

So why should you aim for that coveted Outstanding – or in Scotland, Excellent – rating?

Whilst we provide the very best support at all our locations, achieving the top rating is challenging. For example, in England, less than five percent of care homes are rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC. Most importantly, being top rated means first and foremost that individuals at Lifeways are receiving the very highest standards of support. Being top rated is also a huge motivation for our Support Teams, and heavily boosts enthusiasm across the organisation.

What’s more, a top rating brings further confirmation of a very high quality of support to commissioners and all our stakeholders.

COVID changes

Although the pandemic has made us all meet over video calls, rather than face-to-face, we’ve still had the opportunity to look closely at our own services. While regulators initially paused most inspections over the pandemic, our own Compliance Officers have still been able to audit and rate what we do.

Here are G2O’s five key themes to delivering Outstanding or Excellent support:

  1. Leadership. This is characterised by managers who: put people we support first, have an innovative and forward-looking approach, are open to feedback, truly value their teams, implement robust quality assurance systems, understand regulatory standards, and lead by example.
  1. Culture. An Outstanding or Excellent culture is one where people who receive support are at the heart of the what we do. It’s key to keep (or make) culture open and transparent, with a focus on improvement first, not blame. A warning: As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast, so keep this in mind for the next point.
  1. Vision, values and strategy: Making sure that a people-centred vision and values are at the heart of what we do means involving individuals there with creating and reviewing where you are, and where you want to be. This also means supporting your Support Team to understand, live and embrace the service’s vision – and that progress made in better support is clearly defined, monitored and celebrated. But bear in mind: if you don’t create  an open,  transparent culture, your vision, values and strategy will fall short.
  1. Colleague support: Supporting the Support Team is very important. This means that everyone who works at the service knows clearly what’s expected of them, and are fully invested in developing their own skills, knowledge, practice and future growth. Supporting the Support Team means that every colleague’s supervision and support goes beyond just inductions and formal team meetings – and that individuals we support have an authoritative say in the support received. 
  1. Person-centred support. This is the most important theme, and combines all four points above. Good leadership that generates a positive and inclusive culture leads to genuinely person-centred support. In top quality services, the Support Team really gets to know people as people, understanding their interests, likes and dislikes. This enables relationships where the Support Team and individuals we support work together to set and achieve meaningful and realistic goals. At our services, individuals who volunteer as  forum representatives work with the Support Team to ensure everyone has a voice and that their voice is heard.

Fine-tuning

Lastly, if you’re involved with managing support, just signalling your commitments to an approach is not enough.

Your approach has to make a positive, demonstrable impact on outcomes for people you support. Simply put, with regulators, as in life, actions speak far louder than words!

Following these five approaches above helps our managers develop and fine-tune a positive and supportive culture, with strong leaders who guide and support our colleagues to focus on and deliver person-centred support.

POPOUT: Did you know?

In social care, regulatory standards vary across the UK.

  • In England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rates services on a four-point scale: outstanding, good, requires improvement, and inadequate
  • In Scotland, the Care Inspectorate rates services on a six-point scale: excellent, very good, good, adequate, weak, and unsatisfactory
  • In Wales, the Care Inspectorate rates services on a binary scale: compliance or non-compliance within four areas, namely, Environment, Leadership & Management, Care & Support, and Well-being

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Across the world of work, ‘from good to great’ is a well-worn expression. But the clichéd phrase begs a very real question – which many managers of supported living or residential care must ask themselves often: How do I take our service from ‘Good’ to the coveted ‘Outstanding’ (or Excellent) rating?

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