Values not regulations lead to ‘excellence’

One of the more pleasant opportunities I have at the moment is assisting a care home in meeting the challenges of changing regulations. I have been rather bad at hiding my frustrations with regulations as readers of my blogs well know, so you can imagine I am ideally suited for this job. We work in an intensely regulated market, with many of regulations defying belief. We cannot even get ourselves a decent cappuccino machine as health and safety regulations would mean we would have to also get a member of staff to operate it to meet regulations.

That is not what this blog is about though. This is about our most recent inspection. The management team was understandably nervous as the home was rated “excellent” 3 years ago, so our Trustees naturally assumed we would achieve this again. As we all know past performance is no indication of future performance.

To avoid surprises I encouraged the management team to do their own mock ‘inspection’ two months ago. They found a few minor things which were immediately corrected, but more importantly it reduced tension. They are doing an outstanding job with enough pressures which do not need an unnecessary one. Still some understandable tension remained.

I had spent my first weeks at the home simply talking with people and grabbing any piece of information I could get hold of. Over the many years I have had the pleasure of dealing with companies in crisis, I can smell problems very easily. Whilst I cannot do anything with my nose when it comes to a fine claret, in a business my nose is excellent. I found nothing. In fact, I was thoroughly impressed and wondered what I was doing there, but that is a subject of another blog. My role is actually very clear – now.

Our inspection was due by the end of March and we were already in April. For a moment we even had the illusion that the Care Quality Commission had so many problems to deal with and would skip us, but our inspector did show up last week and spent two days speaking with residents and staff and reviewing the all important paperwork.

A few days of tension remained. We had been told we were at least ‘good’ but that was not really ‘good’ enough. Friday the releasing call came and once again we have achieved an ‘excellent’ rating. My congratulations go out to the staff, the residents and the Trustees for the excellent way they manage their ‘home’. Great job.

But the real reason for this rating in my mind lies much deeper than the quality of care and the bureaucracy. It lies in the values held by all in the organisation. There is a deeply founded belief by all that we form a ‘family’, a word which I heard many times during my many conversations in my early days in the home, coming both from residents and staff. The value the home places on ‘care’ and that we are there to provide a ‘home’ for the residents, not simply a place to park themselves in the latter years of their lives.

It is the value base which forms the base of ‘excellence’. No effort is spared to deliver this and my real congratulations go again to the staff, the residents and the Trustees for their ability to maintain this focus and to deliver their excellent product. It is a lesson I will keep with me in any company I deal with.

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