Debbie Westhead’s blog

Monthly column for providers and professionals working in adult social care from Debbie Westhead, Interim Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care.

I cannot believe we are reaching the end of March and what a ‘stormy’ end to the month; I think someone has put the weather on ‘shuffle’. In this column I want to talk to you about innovation in adult social care, as it is a theme that has come up time and time again this month and one that I am passionate about.

When innovation comes to mind most people think of new inventions and ideas, but there are many examples of where providers have been innovative in adapting to a change of environment or in responding to a challenge and these examples should be shared and celebrated. We all need to adapt to a changing sector and it is vital that CQC, as the regulator, does not stifle this.

Technology has hugely transformed health and social care over the past twenty years and will continue to do so.

Earlier this month I met with a number of care providers who are trying new techniques and approaches to improve the lives of those they care for; and this includes technology. It was great to meet with the people who are implementing different ways of working and to see that they are not afraid to try new things when they believe they could improve the care for those who they look after. If you are reading this and are thinking about an idea you have had which you think would improve the lives of people you care for I encourage you to discuss these ideas with your colleagues and do not be scared to think outside of the box.

At CQC we have a responsibility to keep up with the changes that are happening in the sector, and offer support and advice to providers. One way that we do this is through our online ‘Use of Technology in Care’ resource. Technology has hugely transformed health and social care over the past twenty years and will continue to do so, so it is important that information is readily available on how to properly use the technology available. Currently the resource has five topics, which include how technology can support high quality care, using surveillance in care and handling personal information in the right way. More topics will be added as time goes on and you can sign up to receive an email alert when a new topic is added.

This got me thinking about the importance of looking outside of the UK to learn about models of care and how to regulate.

One of the best ways to grow and improve as a business and as a sector is learning from others, and I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a group of Australian care providers who are touring the UK as part of an initiative called Studying and Advancing Global Eldercare (SAGE). It was really interesting to speak to the group about the similarities and differences between our regulatory model and theirs. This got me thinking about the importance of looking outside of the UK to learn about models of care and how to regulate, whether that be to learn from successes or failures in other countries. If you ever have the opportunity to do something similar to me and speak to people from outside of the UK about adult social care I would urge you to take it.

I hope that this column will start some conversations around innovation and sharing learning and best practice — after all this is the way we all improve. Until next time…