Visiting Alderwood, frustrations with CQC inspection reports and a workshop with Dimensions

02 February 2016

I visited 14 CMG services last week and was particularly impressed when I went to Cheam Road to hear about how 3 of the people living there recently went out to a local restaurant by themselves without staff support. This is a first and a really big achievement for them. Two of the people we support at Cheam Road work on Reception in our central office and it has been great to see how their confidence has grown through having a paid job that they really value.

I also went around all of the Alderwood services last week; that’s the provider specialising in supporting people with autism and complex and challenging behaviour which joined CMG in January. I was extremely impressed by both the quality of the Alderwood services and their incredibly structured approach to supporting some of the most challenging people in the country. All of Alderwood’s CQC inspection reports have now been received and they were rated as ‘outstanding’ on ‘well-led’ and ‘good’ on all four other areas, meaning that each service is rated as ‘good’ overall. Whilst that is a significant achievement, Alderwood is understandably frustrated that none of their services have been rated as outstanding. I think they should. As an example, I met a very challenging young woman last week who moved to one of their services from a secure hospital. When she was in hospital, she wouldn’t keep any of her clothes on and pulled all her hair out. She is now very well dressed and has a full head of hair. I think that is a real example of an outstandingly effective service.

I have commented previously in my blog about CQC and the new rating system. I was initially a big fan, however, my view on that is changing. I am particularly frustrated about the lack of consistency between inspection reports, particularly when it comes to the boundary between ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ services. Services are being rated as ‘good’, which, in my opinion should be rated as ‘outstanding’ and the effect is to demoralise some of our very best managers. It also appears that very little account is taken of factual accuracy challenges to inspection reports. I can think of two reports where I have sat down with the relevant manager and helped them draft a factual accuracy response which pointed out a number of examples of good practice which had been bought to the inspector’s attention at the time of the inspection but didn’t appear in the report. Had they appeared in the report, it may have been sufficient to tip the rating from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’. In both cases, our factual accuracy responses appear to have been ignored by the inspector. I am seeing CQC soon and will be raising these issues with them.

On a final note, I think it is really important that we constantly look at how we work and reflect on how we can improve as an organisation. In that spirit, the executive team from CMG and our opposite numbers from Dimensions had a workshop last week, to see what we could learn from each other. It was really interesting and gave me a lot of food for thought. Dimensions are clearly a well run organisation with excellent values, and I would like to thank Steve Scown, the Chief Executive and his team, for coming and spending time with us. I think they also enjoyed it and found it useful. Although it was clear that our governance structure, as a private sector company, is very different to theirs, as a not-for-profit organisation, what was very clear was that our values and ethos are very similar.

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