Outstanding overall at last

After coming a hairs breath to achieving Outstanding overall from CQC two years ago I’m delighted to see that Elizabeth Finn’s Rush Court have now achieved it, and retained their Outstanding KLOE’s in Caring and Responsive.

And it’s great to get a mention in the report too (Caring KLOE since you ask):

“The service continued to involve people and staff in the 'Ladder to the Moon' initiative. The purpose of the scheme was to promote an inclusive culture that ensured everyone felt part of the service and were valued and respected. The scheme is recognised as a good practice scheme that involves people, staff and the wider community in developing care that is person-centred and values each person as an individual.”

Rush_Court.png

Continuous Improvement drives Outstanding Care

CQC Outstanding is full of references to continuous improvement in services, but in my experience very few organisations are doing this well. Intentional processes for continuous improvement rarely look beyond compliance, and where they do they are often missing out key elements. I think this is an area with significant potential for care organsiations, and have made some suggestions below.

images.jpeg

We tend to see two scenarios; either improvement is limited to a narrow domain of compliance, or where there is attention given to the wider business performance, improvement initiatives tend to be ad-hoc, and reliant on a small number of individuals in the service, often those in senior positions.

There is a third scenario that some of our client partners are creating. One where continuous improvement is driven by what the organisation wants to achieve, not just what it wants to fix. Where ideas and opportunities come from all quarters of the organisation and its community. Where a diverse group of people are involved in creative problem solving to work out the best solutions. And where all of this is managed in a consistent, replicable way that isn’t reliant on one ‘star’ individual making it happen. And of course, all of it is easily evidenced to CQC.

As ever in care organisations making the third scenario is complicated. It isn’t just about the processes, it is the wider culture and climate of the organisation, the leadership and skills of the people involved. Process is never a solution on its own, but it is an important part of the picture.

If you want to develop a more holistic approach to continuous improvement, than I suggest asking yourself some of the following questions:

How to identify improvement opportunities across the business?
How to ensure the teams our focused on the core purpose and values of the organisation?
How to involve everyone in identifying opportunities, generating and selecting ideas and implementing them?
How to ensure this is happing on a regular basis?
How to record and evidence what is happening?

Do you have effective continuous improvement processes in place? If you do please share them. If you don’t we’d love to help.

Creative Cat - Creativity is often really simple

In honour of national cat day this week. I want to share a tiny moment of creativity with you.

When I’m running creativity training, I always talk about creativity as anything that is new that makes a difference (more on that in my TEDx talk - Creating the care we all want), I ask groups to discuss examples of creativity in their own services. The other week when I was with WCS Care, one carer described a women she cared for who loved animals, and was now pretty isolated in her room. The example of creativity was that the carer decided to bring her cat from home in to the womans room, provoking a lot of joy and wellbeing. 

We all know that animals often make a difference to wellbeing. The point of this post though is the simple act of creativity from the carer. That the carer took a moment to use what she knew about the person she was supporting; thought widely about what she had access to that might make a difference, including things in her personal life; and took action.

We are all creative, and it is often as simple as this example. The difficult bit can be doing it, and developing a culture in our work environments and in our teams where we are regularly thinking about what's possible, and making it happen.

What can you do that is new and will make a difference to someone? Happy (belated) cat day.

Building Climate Literacy

Each year, Earth Day — April 22nd — marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. This event is global, having more than 192 participating countries and one billion participants it claims to be the largest civic observance in the world.

This year the Earth Day focus is on building a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and how to protect our environment.

Those working and living in care services know exactly how important the physical environment and emotional climate is to the enjoyment of daily life.

Both these ‘climates’ are extremely sensitive to small changes. e.g. window open + curtains closed = flat, chilly misery OR window closed + curtains open = sunny warmth and the possibility of noticing the birds building a nest in the tree. This is just one example of a small act making a big difference to the lived experience. Not complicated and easy to do when you choose ‘a living well’ attitude.

Extending our thoughts beyond our immediate world to consider the globe on which we all live, I am powerfully struck by this amazing photograph taken by Cory Richards. Cory is an American climber who takes on very tall mountains in the depths of winter. He also takes photos and in this one he epitomizes the effect of climate change in the Russian Arctic on a polar bear on Rudolph Island.

Photos Library.jpg

If like me this image touches you – this speaks to me to of an almost unbearable isolation, stuckness and deprivation due to circumstances way outside of the bear’s control, circumstances that might be influenced by you and me – then I invite you to choose your ‘living well’ attitude and make one small act in your immediate environment that affects the climate positively for those who are stuck where they are and can not now control the circumstances that put them there. I know you’ll think of something!

If you and others are interested in joining the one billion people on Earth Day by having an event then why not find details and support at: www.earthday.com

Jude Sweeting, Director of Quality & Enjoyment

 

 

On moveable feasts…. and dancing with ambiguity

Easter is a moveable feast – meaning that it occurs on a different day each year unlike many other religious feast days that occur on a fixed day every year.

The very idea of a moveable feast on a weekend full of spring conjures the possibility of moving your feast to wherever it will be most enjoyed, be it ‘al fresco’, on a formally decorated table or on your knees in front of the TV the point is to eat something a bit special. Easter has many feasting choices – its not all about chocolate (really???!) – and there are many tasty ways to celebrate the hope and fertility of spring.

My mum’s lemon meringue pie would certainly be on my menu for a springtime feast, indoors or out, come rain or shine. I have nothing but deeply appreciative memories about this fabulous pie as the very special treat after dinner on Easter Sunday – an absolutely scrumptious experience of creamy, lemony zestiness, rich short crust pastry all topped with ‘just right crunchy-chewy ‘ clouds of meringue heaven… my mum always got this just right!

Oddly, embracing correctness – wanting everything to be done the ‘right way’ or perfectly is not helpful in certain stages of the creative process.

Some even say that this kind of fixed mindset at the wrong time provides little room for creative thinking and imagination. Whilst there are times when nothing else will do other than the ‘right way’, as in the production of mum’s lemon meringue pie, or when administering a medical procedure safely, there are many times when the alternative and more creative mindset is one where ambiguity can be embraced in order to find something new and of value.

‘Embracing ambiguity’ means being able to accept two or more seemingly contradictory or odd ideas as being equally valid or able to co-exist.

If you are an explorer of the creative mindset it’s an interesting thing to notice about yourself - where and when you are good at embracing ambiguity and where it deserts you and ‘correctness’ gets the upper hand.

Here’s a small test – can you embrace the ambiguity of when Easter falls in 2018 – see below?  Try scoring yourself on a scale of 0-10 where 10 is ‘yes, I’m completely comfortable with this idea’ and 0 is ‘no, it just cannot be!’

It returns us to the notion of moveable feasts and the changing dates of Easter – did you know that Easter in 2018 is set to happen on April 1st or April Fool’s Day (ref Church of England web-site)?

How did you do?  I scored quite low on the embracing ambiguity test (for me) 5/10 - try it guys!

Happy ambiguities!

Jude Sweeting, Director of Quality & Enjoyment

How do you encourage creative thinking in your organisation?

Hmmmmmm… There’s no doubt that truly new and useful solutions to problems come from bumping ideas around together. And there are so many things that can stop this happening in care homes - or indeed anywhere else! Some of the critical aspects we notice are:

  • Lack of trust and openness 
  • Expressing ideas is given low value – little time is made and there are problems with collection and processing
  • Insufficient ideas generated – we don’t go far enough and stop too soon 
  • The belief that ‘my idea is not big enough or good enough to make things better’

Pondering on the key leadership messages to these seemingly insurmountable blocks – we suggest any of the following, if well landed, have the power to start unlocking everything at once:

  • We are all creative and together are able to think creatively
  • There is no such thing as a rubbish idea here – sharing always leads to something better, if you don’t have an idea ask a question
  • Are we asking the right question about this problem?

It is worth remembering that ideas require action or a response to have any power and that the creative process practically always transforms the first idea(s) to something else along the way. So small ideas, half-baked ideas and crazy ideas are the very, very welcome essence of change.

That’s how new and useful happens.

Nancy Brown, a woman concerned with keeping hearts alive in her role as CEO of the American Heart Foundation says it well:

‘One hundred percent of the ideas that we don’t share with others will lead to nothing.’

So if you do nothing else today other than lend a generous ear to someone else’s offered idea, then you will be encouraging creative thinking, creative confidence and the heart of creativity.

Here’s wishing you a world full of “wow – I’m amazed we came up with that!"

Jude Sweeting, Director of Quality & Enjoyment

Highly Commended Evidence of Outstanding Activities Competition Entry Acknowledgment

Each quarter, we receive many detailed and considered entries to our Evidence of Outstanding Activities Competition. Whilst the cold realities of the competition allow for only one ‘winner’, in instances where another Home or Activities Coordinator has demonstrated exceptional transformation, connection or inspiration, we like to further acknowledge this by awarding certificates of High Commendation. For our winter round, we awarded one of these acknowledgments and certificates to…

…Gemma Smith (The Grange, Forest Healthcare). Her entry was Highly Commended for involving colleagues and building the home community. Her submission wonderfully demonstrated her skilful ability to build curiosity and anticipation, to inspire and enable participation - both planned and spontaneous - and her foresight and capacity for considered follow-up.

She used specific Rebel box dress-items to pique interest: the tattoo sleeves being used and worn by resident Teresa causing such joyful laughter that ‘everyone who happened to be in the area at the time was dragged into the action.’ Staff dressed up and posed for pictures with residents, which really ‘helped them to see the value of the boxes,’ with residents taking on ‘new personalities’ and feeling ‘young, vibrant and involved.’ Following this successful interaction, the home developed their own mobile photo booth and created a photo album, which now welcomingly greets visitors at reception. Family members can also use the album to request copies of photos of their loved ones.  

A great outcome and a clear demonstration of how materials can be adapted to evolve and extend an activity and interaction.

Great work guys!

Elliott Grigg - Administrator & Project Officer