Andrea Sutcliffe shares New Year’s wishes for social care


Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care.

In her final CHP column before taking up her new role with the Nursing & Midwifery Council in January, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, shares her New Year’s wishes for the sector

With my final weeks at CQC disappearing fast, I would like to take the opportunity with my last CHP column to look ahead and share my New Year wishes for the sector with you.

Firstly, I encourage you to recognise that some things will be different and some may stay the same – what is important is that we prepare for both.  Change may come about because of new technology, innovative ways of working, new models of care, changes in demography and diverse expectations, bringing different responses from commissioners and providers. Some of these we may be able to predict but some are unknown and a flexible, positive response to change and difference will be necessary to make the most of the opportunities that will come along.

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At the same time, some things may remain – one is the continued need for residential care, particularly nursing homes for people with the extensive, complex needs. However much an individual, their family or the community would want to support people to live and die in their own homes sometimes this just won’t be possible for a whole host of reasons. Let’s not dismiss those current models of care out of hand but challenge the status quo to improve and meet the needs and aspirations of the people you support in creative and innovative ways.

Which brings me to my second point: person-centred co-ordinated care means there isn’t one magic solution that will solve all our ills. Passionate advocates for one model of care above others are brilliant for providing that challenge but this needs to be tempered by acknowledging one-size does not fit all, which takes us back to flexibility again.

My next point is not a new one from me – it will take a collective effort from everyone involved in adult social care to secure the future we would like to see. Involving, listening, understanding and responding to people who are (or will be) using services is the starting point for care home professionals like you, as well as for providers, commissioners, the government, regulators and national bodies to step up and play their part. Each of us has an important contribution and we need to recognise the contribution of others.

Last, but not least, adult social care is all about people as – I hope – so many of my Care Home Professional columns over the past year have shown. It does not exist just to help the NHS to survive. It isn’t to be dismissed as unimportant and un-necessary. People like you who work in these services are not second-class citizens, you are amazing. Adult social care is there to support people of all ages to live the most meaningful lives possible; assist in achieving aspirations; have some fun despite difficult circumstances; or help people end their days being loved, cared for and supported with dignity and respect.

When I started as Chief Inspector in 2013 ‎I asked CQC inspectors to consider whether they would be happy for someone they loved to use the service they were inspecting. If they were, fantastic, we should celebrate that but if not, we needed to do something about it.

The ‘Mum Test’, though not original, has helped to humanise the often-misunderstood world of regulation but more importantly has reinforced that adult social care is all about people. People who use services, their carers and families; people like you who work in and run those services; the people who commission and fund those services; and those of us who regulate them. The ‘Mum Test’ has had an impact and a resonance for people that I had never imagined.

I’ll close now with this: Be flexible and positive, challenge the status quo, recognise one-size does not fit all, commit to a collective effort, remember it is all about the people and please don’t forget the ‘Mum Test’. That way we can have a future for adult social care that we can all be proud of – and a long-term, sustainable funding solution wouldn’t go amiss either!

Merry Christmas to you all and my best wishes for the future.



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