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07th March 2014

Are you of “Good Character”?

Good CharacterThe Department of Health’s Fundamental Standards for CQC Regulation, now out for consultation, make three significant points relevant to the Human Resources arena:

  • systems and processes must be established to ensure compliance with the Fundamental Standards;
  • sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff must be deployed to meet the standards;
  • persons employed must be of good character, have the necessary qualifications, skills and experience, and be capable of performing the work for which they are employed.

Qualifications, and to a substantial degree, skills and experience, are relatively straightforward to define and evidence is usually easily found and recorded. This need should not provide a well run establishment with any difficulty.

Good character on the other hand is much more a matter of opinion and capability is a matter of judgement.

To take capability first

New recruits who prove incapable may be given further training but, if necessary, they may be dismissed for this reason alone. More serious issues arise most frequently, in our experience, when an employee is over promoted. Training may also be used to bring, for example, a senior carer up to speed. But if that does not work, then dismissal of a long serving employee is more problematic. A better option may be, if the opportunity is available, to move the employee to a different position. If the latter involves loss of pay or status, which well it might, then the employee should be given the opportunity to improve first. At meetings where you might take such decisions, even if only to warn of possible future action, the employee would have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or fellow employee.

Good character

A term my grandfather would have used, is better defined by behavioural characteristics. Dedication, patience, reliability and compassion are examples where  behaviour can be described, observed, and even sometimes measured. Indeed, a wide range of psychometric tests is available to help measure behavioural characteristics and such tests can be a valuable adjunct to recruitment or training. Reliable psychometric tests tend, however, to be expensive!

But the key point about behaviour (as opposed to character) is that it can be observed and recorded. Interviewees can be asked to give examples of where they have shown compassion or patience in the past. In interviews you have to rely on a degree of honesty, but it is difficult for an interviewee to be convincing in describing a situation where they have been compassionate if they have never been so.


If “good character” and capability are to be fundamental standards then systems and processes such as described above will need to be established to ensure compliance in the future.

Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions – QCS Expert Human Resources Contributor

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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