I recently visited the CQC website and was astounded to find that of 9,000 inspections of Care Homes carried out by inspectors against the Fundamental Standards and key Lines of Enquiry only 47 were found to be outstanding.
Given these numbers one could however legitimately ask the question is there something wrong with the category of outstanding when so few providers are able to achieve it? Without carrying out research I would guess there are a large number of services who are now graded as good, would have been acclaimed as excellent by the regulation authority in the past.
So what you may say. CQC have just raised the bar requiring more of providers. There is a danger here however. I do believe that those involved in the business of care should continually strive to improve standards. I also think that not all services will ever be graded as outstanding. However, surely the central purpose of the regulatory authority in trying to improve quality is to encourage people to work towards the achievement of the outstanding grade and in the process continually improve. I believe that in recognising only 47 services as outstanding, a poor picture is painted of the overall quality in care services and breeds frustration in care providers. It may also have the effect of limiting provider’s aspirations as such small numbers of those achieving the grade of outstanding will not introduce any element of competition in their areas, nor afford those seeking care services only a small element of choice.
We all know that this is the first round of the new inspections and as a former principal inspector, I recognise that inspectors and their managers might well have adopted a cautious approach to the grading’s this time around. Never the less, it would be hoped that a more realistic and transparent approach to the grading’s will following in round two, and providers given more encouragement to pursue the achievement of the outstanding grade.
Here at Bettal in support of providers we strive to continually improve our service to our customers and provide a quality management system of the highest quality. We are therefore in complete agreement with CQC in their quest to identify excellence. But we also believe that in setting the bar too high it may have the effect of demoralising those providers who have been graded good but believe they provide a high quality service.
Albert Cook Fellow of the Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy