Bluebird Care Cherwell has recently received exciting news – it has been rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Only 1% of home care providers across the country receive this rating.
At Bluebird Care Cherwell, we offer personal care, end of life care, dementia care and respite care to adults living with a physical or mental disability.
The CQC rating was awarded following a comprehensive inspection in January 2019. We were given ‘outstanding’ for our ‘caring’ nature, as well as for leadership. This is an improvement on the last inspection, in June 2016, where we were rated ‘good’ throughout the service.
The report said that, at Bluebird Care Cherwell, people were valued and respected as individuals, allowing them to be partners in their care. It was also said that people were at the forefront of service delivery and that the provider was committed to and passionate about providing a high-quality service.
The report also highlighted that Bluebird Care Cherwell’s leadership, governance and culture were used to drive and improve high-quality, person-centred care. To complement this, the provider, management team and staff developed, promoted and implemented innovative ways of involving people in developing top-quality and outstanding practice that was sustained over time.
The inspector also commented on the effective systems that Bluebird Care Cherwell had in place to monitor the quality and safety of the service, which included the use of technology. There was evidence available if an area for improvement had been identified and a prompt action was taken to address it.
Preparation ahead of the inspection
You shouldn’t need to change the way you work specifically for the inspection – the way you run your company should comply with the regulations from day one, offering a truly person-centred care approach, while also looking after your staff and developing them as the company grows.
However, once we received notification of the inspection, we called all our customers to make them aware that they might get a call from the CQC. We also wanted to offer them some reassurance that, if they were concerned in any way, they could call us to ease their concerns and we would do what we can to help.
We communicated to all staff that meeting the inspector was a great opportunity to showcase their skill-sets and to talk about why they are proud to be part of the service. We advised them to be honest and transparent and to talk about themselves – in particular, why they are so passionate about providing high-quality care to customers.
We all work very hard each day to ensure that we have key information and notes displayed in an easy-to-read format. Maintaining a high standard at all times is hugely important, and this was a major factor that contributed to our ‘outstanding’ rating.
It is also vital that diaries of key team members are clear so that they can have time to present all the information required by the inspector and that questions can be answered on the day.
During the inspection
On the day, we were ready to meet and greet our inspector and make her feel welcomed and comfortable. For us it was important that the inspector understood our day-to-day approach, how we worked and how our overall aim was always to provide the best possible care for our customers.
Our inspector gave us the opportunity to sit with her initially and talk to her about our service. We took this time to discuss our very robust recruitment procedures, which ensure that we only employ individuals who would really embrace our ethos.
We then moved on to talk about the real-time technology we use for our care plans, which allows you to input data instantly to ensure information is kept up-to-date. There is also an alert system that informs you if any tasks are not completed. We touched on how this technology has really enhanced our service by reducing paperwork and admin, enabling us to spend more time with our customers and helping to combat things such as loneliness.
The inspector spoke with three members of the care team, some of the office staff, both the nominated individuals and the care manager.
After the inspection
The feedback at the end of the visit was very positive. The inspector actually said that we had really brightened her day, as she often visits services that are not welcoming and are not working as they should be. She had nothing but encouraging praise for the service and didn’t have any negative comments to convey.
What really stood out for us is how the work we do every single day and the care we provide to customers is considered ‘outstanding’. For us, this is how we operate and it’s the norm. For this reason, we perhaps could have had more evidence to present. Moving forward, we will be making sure that we record these amazing moments and make a note of some of the wonderful stories and outcomes of our work, and the feedback that we receive from customers, because it is always great to be able to show this to the inspectors.
Our entire team has worked so hard over the years and we are absolutely delighted to have achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating. As soon as we received that call, we took our staff members to the pub and we are in the process of organising a celebration for everyone to enjoy. It is so important to value and thank your staff – not just following big moments like this, but all the time.
And, now that the news has finally sunk in, we are not resting on our laurels. Not only do we need to continue to work hard to maintain this rating but want to achieve ‘outstanding’ in more key lines of enquiry – and securing ‘outstanding’ across the board!
In a way, I think I owe a final thanks to my very dear grandmother. Without her, the idea of a service that emulates what you would expect for your family would never have come into fruition and the idea of running a care service, let alone an ‘outstanding’ service, would never have occurred to us.
About the author
Suzzanne Elgar is Director of Bluebird Care, Cherwell.