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Quality - the importance of language

28 May 2014

NCF blog by David Coull

I make no apology for referring to quality for a second week, following John Kennedy’s excellent blog of last week. John was looking forward to the NCF Annual Conference and in particular the theme of Bringing quality to life (#NCF2014) - which indeed proved to be our best conference yet!

The conference was absolutely excellent; the energy from our speakers and workshop leaders was truly inspiring. Perhaps the most encouraging thing to emerge was that when we consider what we value and when we hear from people who come in to contact with our services, our hopes, expectations and requirements are really quite similar and relatively modest.

I really dislike some sound-bites that we often hear, be they in general or as related to specific marketing, however a thoughtful few words that captures a message can create a lasting memory. So I offer a few personal recollections of thoughtful words expressed by participants:
  • Quality: “it’s having someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to”
  • “Older people, their knowledge and experience are not behind them but still within them”
  • “The importance of language” and to demonstrate the power of language, a reminder that quality is everyone’s responsibility: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. This statement was offered in the context of the power of social media, by means of a YouTube recording from Lieutenant General David Morrison, Chief of the Australian Army.
There was genuinely so much rich material it feels wrong to select, and yet to simply to list content, for many pages, would be to dilute the impact it had.

The importance and indeed power of language was the strong message for me. We need only think of a very few examples of commonly used words to make the point: such as “user” or “burden”. Most of us would feel less than valued if we had either of those two words used in relation to us let alone used to describe us. We really must rise above the shorthand of language - it can so significantly hurt and it genuinely must question our sincerity. 

Finally, I dislike the notion of, or term “standard” not least as it is so often taken as a target. We are all individual and, although there is often a common expectation of quality, to reduce it to a standard is to significantly depersonalise it and thereby fundamentally miss the point. That is until you take personal ownership and responsibility, in the very clear way shown by Lieutenant General Morrison. 

If you get the chance, view the recording then visit the NCF website and view the excellent film ‘Bringing Quality to Life’ produced for our conference, I am sure that you will find it impossible not to be moved and to reflect that quality is something we must take responsibility for and that it isn’t about money but values, ownership and personal leadership wherever you exist in an organisation.

David Coull | Chief Executive | Coverage Care Services
and NCF Chair-Elect 
National Care Forum


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