NCF guest blog written by Martin Farrow, CEO, Optalis
I have lived in my house for the last 7 years. I remember the day I first viewed it. Within about 15 seconds, I knew it was the house for me. It was hard to define, but it felt right. It felt like home. That was in the afternoon; in the morning I had seen a house which looked good on paper, but when I got there, my only goal was to convince the estate agent that it was time to leave. I hadn’t left the hallway.
If you apply the same principles to our social care world, then it’s pretty similar. Whether you are the customer receiving care, or the colleague delivering it, if the environment doesn’t feel right, then the odds are that your customers won’t enjoy the experience and, as a member of staff, you may not want to stick around.
So, when we talk about ‘quality’, are we talking about good or outstanding CQC ratings? Or are we talking about the part culture plays in creating the right environment for that to flourish? For me the latter delivers the former. Not at the time of inspection, but all year round and at any time.
The definition of quality transcends the regulatory, delivering excellence from the very first contact, the first phone call or email, the first meeting, the first cup of tea – whether that is someone who wants support or someone who wants a job. It requires an unswerving attention to detail and a clear understanding that both customers and colleagues matter, a lot. So that’s easy then, isn’t it? Take a service, apply a generous sprinkling of culture, put the core values on the wall and we’re done.
Not quite. It may only be one word but ‘culture’ carries a myriad of definitions and is home to entire sections of your online or old school book store. Whatever your view, it has to include at its heart passionate, authentic and inclusive organisational leadership driven by clarity of purpose and values. It’s not about emailing the strategy, or sending a glossy brochure - it’s about being clear on the important stuff, it’s about conversations, real stories, and working together towards a common goal.
If it comes naturally, and all around you – up, down and across the organisation – are focussed on the same important stuff, then you’re in the right job, working for the right organisation and you’ll want to stay. If you love what you do working hard will not feel like hard work, and you will excel. Choosing a job with the right culture is like choosing a home – if it’s good or outstanding you’ll want to come and stay.