Post inspection blues – and outstanding habits ....

Jude Sweeting, Director of Quality & Enjoyment 

It is disheartening for homes to hear post inspection that they are at the upper end of Good when they have spent months of personal investment to achieve Outstanding. And of course it is joyful to achieve an Outstanding rating where, in the exposure of an inspection, nothing seems guaranteed. In both cases however there is the aftermath of the inspection and some kind of rallying and refocusing.

Two weeks ago I had my first coaching call of the year with a home which achieved a CQC rating of Outstanding late last year. I left the call even more convinced that Outstanding is a leadership mindset, which produces behaviours that once ‘turned on’ become as natural as breathing.

The CQC rating is an important validation with powerful business consequences and we all need to understand what is needed to achieve this. There is much learning to be done as we seek to share an understanding of creativity and innovation in care services.

Arguably, authentically outstanding homes won’t need to ‘bounce back’ post inspection. They won’t need to spend lots of time ‘managing’ being unsuccessful or successful (after the final result and even if it seems unfair) as they already have a higher investment in the process of innovation and creativity than the outcomes these produce.  They just will continue to be innovative in their behaviors because they have lots of evidence that pleasing outcomes will follow in abundance. Stretching is not just for inspections (or even Christmas) it is a habit of success.

Where there is a post inspection sense of‘returning to business as usual’ or even ‘its now time to refocus’ it is important to get back to ‘clean slate’ thinking.

So what was it about the post inspection Outstanding home on this call with their home manager and activity leader that gladdened my heart? It was a sense of unstoppable creative confidence with tangible indications that innovative behaviours are routinely automatic:

  • Natural future focus: ‘yes we had the (CQC) celebration party before Xmas, it was lovely, but that was ages ago’


  • Noticing impact and feedback:  ‘our new electronic care records mean that I had 4 staff attending an afternoon social event last week – that is unheard of!’


  • Willingness to learn, exploit, hoan, combine and build: ‘I’m seeing that if we do more work matching staff with residents we can use the ‘new’ time for more outings and ‘in home special times’.”


  • Commitment to relationship building using the whole team: ‘we used the tool you sent us and 20 of the staff have done their relationship circles – I’ve been really amazed that some of the residents who I had on my outer circle (less energizing relationships) were in the centre circle for a number of staff – there’s a lot we can use here’


  • Inclusion and curiosity underpin investment in enquiring: ‘I will complete the tool with all the staff so we can see it all’


  • Risk–taking and working to be leader proof: ‘we had to resuscitate a resident recently and I stood back to allow other staff to put their learning into practice. Often the home manager is expected to do the CPR. I’m doing this to encourage staff problem solving too by saying‘I haven’t got time – come back and tell me what you have done’


  • Playfulness that encourages the heart of positive relationships: ‘I asked staff to share a proud achievement in their lives and created a game for the residents to guess which member of staff had done this thing. They loved it – when the residents weren’t sure who we were talking about I re-introduced the member of staff to them’


To the Moon!!