Our vision is that every day people will be invited to choose the things they want to do and try new opportunities. Within WCS we focus on our values: play, make their day, be there and choose your attitude and it’s these behaviours that empower people living in our homes (and the staff who work there) to have a day well lived.
We decided to define for ourselves what we mean by outstanding, and if CQC like it that’s great. Fortunately, they did like it!
It wasn’t always plain sailing, though, and it’s less than two years ago that one of our homes was rated as requiring improvement. So what were the key factors that led to the run of outstanding ratings? We aren’t entirely sure, because it wasn’t our main focus, but we think the following all contributed:
• Systems and processes: WCS Care has a strong and well understood set of systems and processes that are standardised across our homes. We already had confidence that these were fit for purpose and could evidence our care.
• Preparation: right back when the new KLOEs were introduced we made sure that we fully briefed every manager (we didn’t hand them the manual and leave them to get on with it).
• Pride and confidence: We encouraged managers to look forward to their inspection, to see the PIR as an opportunity to showcase their home, and to use the PIR to help them gather all the evidence they wanted to put in front of the inspector when they turned up.
• Shared responsibility: on the day of the inspection, our managers get support and back-up from their service managers (who know the homes and the residents really well) to help them remember what they wanted to show the inspector, and to help locate all the relevant documents and evidence when the manager might be feeling under pressure. And when we got that “requires improvement” we took collective responsibility: rather than blaming the home’s manager we took on board that everyone within the leadership team had created this situation and all of us had to take responsibility for fixing the issues raised.
• Leadership: we’ve focused on growing a strong set of junior managers who have the opportunity to try, to learn, to get things wrong, as well as be successful. And we talk, train and validate leadership at all levels of the organisation. Of our 13 home managers, only one currently hasn’t been home-grown through our homes’ care teams.
• Creativity and innovation: WCS has got a reputation for this. On one level, we’re a bit baffled – we’re just seeking ways to improve the lives of our residents, asking why, or why not. And creativity and innovation provide the answers. Why don’t all care providers do this?
• Making things happen: we move fast. We are willing to try things and change what isn’t working. We aren’t afraid to get it wrong – in fact we usually do at first attempt. But failing fast gives us the opportunity to get it right.
• People: ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. All of our overall outstanding ratings are in homes that are at least 40 years old, and certainly not built to the standards and ambition of our two new-builds. And they were rated outstanding because of the people who deliver the care in these homes: because they are passionate, committed, value driven and caring. They’re the real magic. We don’t pay the highest wages locally, but we do care about and support our staff; we invest in training and we try to enable them to get the right work-life balance. And we don’t tolerate people who can’t commit to our vision and values. Because another of our key values is that the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. And all our staff know that they are responsible for their own behaviour and that of staff around them.