Eleanor’s Blog – March 2013

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March and at last the first signs of spring are appearing. As crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils appear, brightening the gloomy end of winter days, they bring with them a sense of hope for new beginnings. February saw two significant reports published that present similar hope for the Health and Social Care sector. I can almost see the puzzled looks on your faces as you read this wondering what you missed because all you can recall is the critical reports about home care and dementia care homes. Well yes I am actually talking about those and I guess it’s all about perspective. A case of, is your glass half full (optimistic) or half empty (pessimistic)?

Let’s take the pessimistic view first. Yes, both the Care Quality Commission (CQC) review of home care provision and the Alzheimer’s Society report Low expectations: Attitudes on choice, care and community for people with dementia in care homes provided harsh truths about the poor quality of care being provided to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The mere fact that the Alzheimer’s Society report is titled Low expectations says it all in terms of how the general public view the quality of dementia care in care homes. I have always believed that if you have low expectations then people / services will meet those low expectations and that seems to be borne out here.

However, the flip side of that is that if you have high expectations (high but not unrealistic) then people / services will strive harder to achieve these. In my experience it is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The quality of what is provided is better and the satisfaction and motivation of those providing the service is also higher as they achieve a sense of a job well done and receive more often the recognition from the people on the receiving end.
Returning to our pessimistic view, reports such as these from the CQC and the Alzheimer’s Society will be reacted to in much the same way that complaints are viewed. If the organisation is inward looking and defensive they will view complaints and reports as criticism and dismiss them as irrelevant. In these organisations nothing much will change even in the face of overwhelming evidence that we currently haven’t got the care and support of vulnerable people right and there is an economic imperative as well as a moral, ethical and humanistic responsibility to change and improve care.
Taking an optimistic view, both reports offer insights into where the quality of care can be improved in both home care and care home settings. So in a forward thinking and outward looking organisation they will be viewed, very much as complaints are, as important feedback about how to improve the quality and consistency of care, support and service being provided. They will be stimulus for motivating staff, to review and reflect and to look for new ideas and ways of working.

Which type of organisation do you work in? Which type of organisation would you rather work in?

Don’t forget that change starts with each one of us so release your leadership ambitions and take a positive view to feedback today and start making a difference to the lives of those you support as well as your own.

The CQC Report, along with evidence of what works well and ideas for improving services can be found at: http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/media/documents/home_care_infographic_0.pdf

The full report can be found here: http://www.cqc.org.uk/public/reports-surveys-and-reviews/themed-inspections/review-home-care-services

The Alzheimer’s Society report Low expectations: Attitudes on choice, care and community for people with dementia in care homes can be found here: http://alzheimers.org.uk/lowexpectations

Until next month….

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