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Opening Doors

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I am delighted to have taken up position as the Executive Director of the National Care Forum at a time of significant change and challenge for the sector.  It has been rollercoaster of experiences during my first few weeks – and has included highs around meeting with members and sector leaders – and lows around realising that there is a host of new jargon based initiatives and approaches to comprehend!  Whilst I scratched my head at the latest barrage of acronyms, I mused on the navigatory challenge this created for anyone wanting to understand the wonderful world of adult social care.

This brings me to my main subject – that of openness – one that I have reflected on long and hard during the first few weeks of being involved with the NCF. The first way in which I want to examine this is by looking at the issue of an open culture.  One of the key factors under the new regulatory regime is a focus on leadership within organisations. A key element that inspectors are looking at is how strong leadership supports the development of an open culture. However, what does that actually mean in practice and how can an organisation demonstrate that it is ‘open’? One core regulatory interpretation zones in on how organisations respond to complaints, and in response to a Which survey in 2015 it concluded that ‘more needs to be done to inspire an open culture in health and adult social care where concerns are welcomed and acted upon’. However, what else might the regulator be looking for in organisations that demonstrate an open culture in adult social care?  Andrea Sutcliffe, the Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care for CQC has commented “The best care homes do not hide behind closed doors – they are a vibrant part of the local community, ….This open and transparent culture shines through the Good and Outstanding services we see …”

In light of that, I was pleased to hear about the effectiveness of Care Home Open Day, held this year on the 17th of June. It provided the perfect opportunity for Care Homes who are committed to that open and transparent culture to open their doors to the community, and this year, more homes than ever took part. The theme for the day  was ‘celebration’, and the opportunity to celebrate in style was taken up in care homes across the country – ranging from wedding day themed parties to bakeoffs – tea & scones to chees & wine – and finally, for me, a trip to a fantastic beach party organised by NCF members, Quantum Care Ltd.  This is the fourth year that the event has taken place, and the momentum behind the movement shows that this is working as a vehicle to engage the broader community in the role of care home residents and providers within the wider community.

This brings me to my final point about openness, which is something that I will be working hard on with partners across the sector over the coming months. I believe that the general public have very limited understanding of the world inside a care home, what a home care service comprises of or indeed what extra care or supported living looks like.  Their first engagement may come at the

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point of crisis, and their lack of knowledge and understanding may mean that they make the wrong choices. I believe that the more open our doors are, the more that people will want to find out what is inside.  Openness and transparency will not just score high ratings with the regulator, but more importantly will help adult social care rate higher on the agenda of the communities we serve.

Vic Rayner Executive Director

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