Running a quality care service is surely the goal of most providers. I am certain that no business sets out to deliver a poor service, or to be known for such.
In fact, most organisations providing adult social care services make it their goal to be known for delivering high quality services.
Yet, we often read in the media and hear from service users about their negative experiences. Stories of poor care provision, ineffective and uncaring staff, negative inspection reports which call to question the suitability of operators.
Recently, I read a report indicating that closures of care services is at a faster rate than the opening of such services and this all to readily supports the claim that some businesses operating within the sector are in crisis.
The stories tend to be echoed to create a sense that this is the norm within the sector and that “you’d be ‘lucky’ to find one” which isn’t tarnished by this brush.
However, I don’t believe this to be the case for the majority of operators. There are many providers within the sector who have a strong commitment to delivering quality outcomes for the people they support and their families. Yet, their voices are not always heard by the noise of negativity.
So I ask the question. If it is the goal and ambition of organisations to deliver quality services - one that is known for its high standards of care and support to individuals; one that has well trained, caring and effective staff and meets its regulatory duty, why isn’t this more widely communicated as the experience of individuals engaging with the sector?
Delivering a quality service is not altogether straight forward, as we know. There are many factors that can impact the business. Some of which are outside the control of managers and operators, and many which can be effectively managed to make sure a consistent service is always provided.
In our experience in supporting organisations to deliver quality services we have found the seven points below to feature in creating a high quality service.
Experienced managers with the right level of skills, knowledge and compassion is essential. The manager has a leading role to shaping and motivating their team, and fostering a working culture that is committed to quality outcomes.
Their role is challenging and demanding, as they juggle their responsibilities to service users, relatives, employees, regulators and commissioners of services.
However, managers also need to be supported in their role, to make sure that they have an outlet for growth and development.
- Whole service approach
Where quality services are consistently provided, the responsibility for its delivery is not simply the work of the manager and their team, but it’s the shared responsibility of the entire organisation working together, with a shared vision, values and commitment to ensuring that quality outcomes forms a key part of everything the organisation does well.
A whole service approach is essential to achieving a consistent quality service – working both top-down and bottom-up.
- Effective staff teams
Developing effective staff teams can seem like a challenge for any organisation within the sector, but success relies on it.
Whilst making sure that the recruitment process is effective, operators must also ensure that staff effectively engaged in the organisational values and commitments, and are equipped and supported to achieve them.
Communication certainly is a two way process. Adopting an open and transparent approach will foster trust and engagement. Effective communication should apply to staff, service users, relatives, regulators and commissioners.
We are often inclined to communicate when things work well and hold back when things go wrong or when mistakes happen. However, such incidents and events can be powerful learning opportunities and a chance to reassess and evaluate systems and processes.
- Service user satisfaction
Making sure that service users are happy is a great way to assess the quality of your service provision.
Enabling service users and families to comment can provide valuable feedback and insights to help shape and develop your service provision.
You may also find new opportunities for growth and development that may have otherwise been missed.
Compliance is sixth on the list as I believe that if you are consistent in applying the first five points, you are already half way there in delivering a compliant service.
Demonstrating compliance is essential and so providers should make sure that they have in place appropriate systems and processes to record and evidence how they meet the regulations.
- Financially viable
Whether you have a focus on making profit or operate on a not-for-profit basis, ensuring that your service is financially viable and sustainable is essential to your success.
Operating within the sector requires commitment and tenacity. As many operators have discovered, it is possible with a well thought out management process to achieve consistent results of high quality standards.
Edna Petzen @LyndenConsult is the director and consultant at Lynden Consulting, a strategic management, marketing and communications company helping organisations develop marketing strategy, build and protect their brand, improve performance and achieve communication excellence. Find out more.