Celebrations, Contrasts and Consistency

Andrea Sutcliffe Chief Inspector (Adult Social Care) CQC ‘Blog’

Published:  9 February 2015.


Most people I know love a celebration – birthdays, Christmas, weddings, the list goes on. I think there’s a human need to forget about the day-to-day drudgery, the heartaches and upset and focus instead on having fun, giving thanks and honouring others. Some rail against the commercialism of it all, the forced frivolity and the tyranny of the calendar – the price of red roses next Saturday tells you all you need to know about that (and maybe explains why we don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day in our house!).

Despite that little lapse, I am firmly on the side of the celebration supporters – which probably explains why I took a 12,000 mile round trip to Hong Kong for my niece’s 18th birthday last week. That and I love her to bits. It’s not the first time we’ve been – my brother has lived there for over 20 years so we have got to know the place reasonably well, with time to explore the not so well-known aspects of this famous tourist destination.


The wonderful thing about Hong Kong is that it is full of contrasts – the back-alley temple tucked beneath shiny, breathtakingly high glass and steel structures; dim-sum trolleys compete with high-tea extravaganzas; rickety trams running shoulder to shoulder with luxury cars; street markets jostle for attention alongside expensive shopping malls; while the rugged hills, fishing villages and countryside hikes refuse to be overshadowed by the iconic city skyline at night.


We have striking contrasts here in England, alive and kicking in adult social care. Variation in standards was a dominant theme in our 2014 State of Care Report and continues to be exposed in our new-style ratings which assess services as Inadequate, Require Improvement, Good or Outstanding. We have now rated 12 services as Outstanding and if you are looking for inspiration, take some time to read these reports. I was lucky enough a couple of weeks ago to meet Robert and Gail Godson who run Home Instead Senior Care (West Lancashire and Chorley) one of our first Outstanding services. Their commitment to person-centred care, high standards and excellent staff support explain why they have made the progress they have.

Showing that the high bar we have set for an outstanding service can be met is an inspiration to others. I recently visited the Royal Star and Garter Home in Surbiton, which opened in 2013. There was already a lot of good practice, but I was very impressed when the Director of Operations, Pauline Shaw said that she had printed off the Prince of Wales, Ipswich report – our first outstanding care home – to share with her senior team to compare and see what more they could do to improve.


We are finding lots of Good care – 623 at the last count – but we are also finding too many services that Require Improvement or are Inadequate, 270 and 74 respectively. Last week The Daily Telegraph ran an article on a day in a bad care home using descriptions from our inspection reports. I am glad they did make the point that not all homes are like this, but that is no comfort to people suffering because of lack of staff, poor care planning, no activities, inadequate nutrition or a poor environment.

In each individual case, we must make sure that providers address their shortcomings and improve and where there are serious failings we will take the appropriate regulatory action.


It is important for us to celebrate the Good and Outstanding care we see. Adult social care has a poor public image and many people are fearful of the service they may receive – we do need to reassure them that good care can be found. Being positive may also help to recruit the good staff we desperately need in the sector.

But that should not detract from us being honest about the failings – we need to do this so we can be sure those failings will be addressed. While the contrasts between old and new can be celebrated in Hong Kong – a cause for celebration in adult social care will be when we achieve greater consistency and raise all services to the standards of the Good and Outstanding.

Last updated:

9 February 2015

It is important for us to celebrate the Good and Outstanding care we see. But that should not detract from us being honest about the failings – we need to do this so we can be sure those failings will be addressed.

A group of Home Instead CAREGivers talking
Family welcoming a Home Instead care manager into their home