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04th December 2017

What “Well-Led” Looks Like to Your CQC Inspector


In one of my previous board level Care Quality positions on my second day, there was an unannounced CQC inspection at one of the multiple branches of adult social care providers under the group.

The Registered manager was very defensive and abruptly rude to the inspector about some of her concerns, (who as it turns out was a very professional and approachable inspector. Many are, if you deal with them professionally, openly, honestly and transparently). The manager then disappeared for most of the day.....Why?  The answer is, FEAR. She feared what she didn't understand, scared of the authority and potential outcomes of the CQC’s concerns.

I am sure I don’t need to emphasise to you that ‘hiding in the stationery cupboard’ is not the way to demonstrate effective leadership and showcase the good stuff, or the outstanding stuff. It's also not going to motivate staff to produce quality for individuals you support either. I don’t think this service received a good or an outstanding for the key question of 'is the service Well Led', do you?

Okay, so Inspections can seem scary, after all some Managers may feel their jobs can literally depend on the rating outcome.

So How Do You Take The Fear Away From The Potential Rating Of Your Leadership?

Fear is not real. Fear is a product of our imagination. Fear exists when we are unsure. so let us remove that fear now by understanding what a well-led rating looks like to the inspector.

Leadership guru John.C. Maxwell has a simple phrase to describe a leader:

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”

Let me ask you a personal question; personal because leadership is personal. It is about caring about how we bring the best out of the people around us - both patients and our team.

Let’s think about helping a special family member to choose a care provider. If you were to ask the potential care provider these questions:

  • Do you know what best practice in your care provision should look like?
  • Do you demonstrate and monitor the best practices in your care?
  • Do you ensure all the people around you know and demonstrate best practice?

…and then what if one care provider answers ‘no’ or 'not sure' and the other ‘yes’,…with a well-formed and passionate answer with tangible evidence to back up the answers to your questions, which provider would you personally choose?

How An Inspection Team Assesses Whether You Are Well-led

The CQC states that the Well-led KLOE is assessed as follows, by inspecting: “the leadership, management and governance of the organisation. We make sure it's providing high-quality care that's based around individual needs, that it encourages learning and innovation, and that it promotes an open and fair culture.”

From the date you are registered, onto the Inspector's approach at the registered premises entrance on an inspection day, to the end of the inspection and ongoing afterwards, the CQC will actively watch for these elements in practice from the leadership, but also ask and consider feedback, intelligence and concerns from others, (staff, family members and people who you support), but also look for visible signs of evidence, or ‘proof’ (auditable documentation).

Well-meant or well-intended is not the same as well-led and we understand time can be your enemy. The great news is that we can use the same techniques as the Inspector to help improve our chances of a better rating and crucially, a better service.

10 Simple Steps To Being More Well-Led: Preparation Is The Key!

  • What if we actively sought external audits, reviews and feedback about our services that were mapped against the KLOE?
  • What if we actively and transparently sought out internal feedback from our staff and people who use our services as part of our daily routines?
  • What if we encouraged transparent and honest feedback much more?
  • What if we captured communication and checked ourselves regularly that nothing was being forgotten?
  • What if we explained why certain things needed to be captured rather than just issuing commands to people?
  • What if we asked the team how best to capture information?
  • What if we asked our team to visit best practice sites and feedback learnings?
  • What if we actively held KLOE reviews?
  • What if we got used to inspecting ourselves?
  • What if we could find ways of bringing the answers to the key questions the KLOE to life visibly around the building in a fun way?

What if we could evidence that we had done and continue to do all the above, not only when the inspection team calls, but as an integral part of our culture?

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Samuel Barrington

Inspection and Auditing Specialist

Sam is an outcome driven and customer focussed leader, with 20 years of care quality and compliance experience. Read more

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