One of the earliest conversations I often have with care providers in my role as an independent consultant to health and social care organisations is about my version of the ‘Mum Test’.
My ‘Mum Test’ (or maybe I should call it my ‘Dad Test’) is a little more testing than most people’s might be, borne out of my personal experiences of my father’s nine years in three different care homes during his life with vascular dementia. I know how amazing good care and support can be both for the person receiving it and their family (and the often simple things that contribute to those outcomes), but I also know the devastation of poor care, which in my father’s case led to his death.
Asking the question about whether the care you provide is good enough for you or someone you love is often what sparks an interest in improvement, and certainly motivates staff to feel a more personal connection to their work. Every provider, no matter how impressive you think your service is, has the potential to improve further, and the most progressive providers recognise that.
Needing to improve is often associated with poor services pulling themselves up by their boot strings. Such improvement is of course more critical in services that aren’t meeting the needs of the people they are caring for, and working with them is about energising that crucial change and ensuring that short-term goals lead to long-term, sustainable improvement.
Whatever your starting point, though, improvement won’t happen if you are wedded to certain processes or structures that are traditionally part of your service; just because ‘it’s always been done that way’ doesn’t mean it always should be. I also know from my work with CQC that the quality of your leadership, the culture of your organisation, and how committed you are to the people you are providing care and support for (and their families) will have the biggest influence on your inspection, but more importantly than that, on whether the people living in your care home, and those who may join you in the future, have confidence and trust in your service.
Whenever I work with a care provider, my main focus is around personalised support and, particularly in relation to dementia care, ensuring that people who are living with dementia are able to maximise their individuality, independence and potential. I empower staff not just by giving them textbook knowledge, but by making it real. What does living with dementia really feel like (not from my perspective, but from the perspective of people who are living with dementia), and how can you as a professional care worker improve not only the lives of the people you are providing care and support for, but feel an increased level of job satisfaction, purpose and commitment to your job and, therefore, your employer?
Nothing is as valuable for your workforce as having a real person to gain knowledge from, discuss problems and issues with, and find solutions and learn new ways of thinking, problem solving and creative working that they will call upon time and time again in their career. More importantly, that value extends into every experience the people receiving your care and support and their families have – a key component of any ‘Mum Test’.
If you would like to learn more about my background, my work, or to read the many blogs and articles I’ve written about different aspects of adult social care, please visit my website: www.bethbritton.com