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20th June 2016

CQC 5 Questions: Tips to involve service users in improving your service

I hope you have had a good week. Mine has been full of mending and making in my spare moments.

I use a little second hand tin for these jobs that is quite old and decorated in pinks and greens. Inside are a selection of threads on wooden reals with most in purple. I do think about the previous owner, who they were and why so much purple thread? Without involving the person, how can I know?

The same can be said about looking at how to improve your service. While looking at it from the outside and at a higher level might give you some suggestions on how to improve, getting stuck in, knowing the people, and getting them involved will provide you with much more valuable detail.

CQC involvement and the 5 questions

CQC have a webpage for people on what to expect from a good care service. They are high level descriptions under the 5 questions which I find helpful. You can see at a glance through them the elements dedicated to involving people linking in with the KLOEs.

Involvement a set feast?

Involvement can feel very set. I think of it like a wedding. You can have the ‘traditional’ approach, or you can put that to one side and start with what works for you and the people it is about.

So how do we get the most from people to improve the service they receive?

  • Tip 1: Go back a step - If the people you support have the capacity, think about asking them to help design some questions. What is important to them?
  • Tip 2: Ask in person - The personal approach often yields most. It is important to let people know what you are doing so you have their consent.  The individual may have a preference to when where and who asks them questions for example by their carer at afternoon tea.
  • Tip 3: User friendly questionnaires - The take up is not high for this approach. Make it easier by:
    • Keep to 10 questions or less;
    • Use plain English – how to here;
    • Ask questions that will give you an initial yes or no or graded response, and then a place to add detail if they wish.
  • Tip 4: Overcoming barriers to involvement - Think of solutions to specific barriers:
    • Using touch screen questionnaire;
    • Ergonomic pens;
    • Advocacy services;
    • Large print and plain English;
    • Translation;
    • ‘Feeling’ faces instead of words (‘yes’ ‘no’ answers)
    • Questionnaires for others involved in caring for the service user where appropriate – remembering the answers will be from their perspective.

There is so much more I could talk about, but I hope this is a starter for ten.

I think from time to time about the owner of the tin.  I hope they will be pleased I use the thread, and love the tin so much. Without talking to them I will never know.

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health , Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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