Me and my shadow

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.

Last week’s blog was a bit of a mammoth read — sorry about that. There was so much to pack in that I broke my self-imposed rules on brevity. This week I’m aiming to be a bit shorter!

Recently I have been focused on internal stuff — management meetings, one-to-ones, preparing for the roll-out of our new approach in October and the like. I still got out and about a bit, speaking at The National Commissioning and Contracting Training Conference in Derby on Friday, for example, but the day-to-day activity of making sure things get done dominated.

Introducing Jessica

So was this the right week to have someone shadow me for a day? I hope so because on Wednesday I was joined by Jessica. The shadowing came about following an approach by Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability. She wrote to tell me of a scheme she is involved in providing support for young women with a disability to shadow women in senior positions.

I have written before about the responsibility I feel women leaders have to support and nurture future generations. Clare probably knew I’d be a safe bet to say yes.


The day started with our monthly get together with provider representatives — an important, though sometimes challenging meeting. The changes we are making in the registration, inspection and regulation of adult social care will obviously have a significant impact on providers. Regular dialogue gives us a helpful insight into their worries and concerns and also some good ideas about how we can do it better. We may not always agree and I’m certainly not compromising on our rigorous and robust approach, but we do have a sense of common purpose focused on the needs of people using services which makes the meetings constructive and productive.

Internal co-production

As you know, I am an advocate for working in co-production with people who use services, their carers and families, providers, commissioners and national partners. But it is also important to harness the talents of staff across our organisation to help shape and design what we do. We have been doing this through our internal co-production group involving inspectors and inspection managers as well as colleagues from other departments like legal, intelligence and communications.

This was Jessica’s second meeting — and it lasted the rest of the day. Like our external co-production meeting the week before, we had an update session and three discussions about market oversight, special measures and working with local communities.

More to life than meetings

Jessica followed me back to the office for my catch-up with my assistant Kim — who needed answers on some speaking requests, highlighted some emails I really needed to sort before I went home and handed over my reading pile for the evening.

A fresh perspective

Throughout the day it was great to talk things through with Jessica — she asked some thought-provoking questions — like is it more difficult to regulate a private market? She also offered her observations on the workshop — suggesting that sometimes the questions were a bit vague and maybe could have focused more on specific actions. While I don’t want to stifle helpful debate, I think I’ll take that one on board!

We also discussed her plans and how she could develop her career. Jessica currently works in housing — so I was pretty chuffed when she said the day had made her think about options for a career in social care.

I hope Jessica will write a blog for us so that you can get her perspective directly.


Hopefully, Jessica found her day with me useful, but it has long been my experience that I get just as much out of these opportunities. So what did I take from my day with my shadow?

It made me think about what is a ‘normal’ day in this role? Frankly, it doesn’t exist and one of the joys about what I do is the variety. I’m glad Jessica got to see a day with an internal and external focus as well as the mundane reality of emails and reading piles.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk things through between meetings. It’s not a luxury I usually have, rushing from one thing to the next. But Kim had picked a day that wasn’t too frantic so that I could spend more time with Jessica. Perhaps I should try that more often?

And having a fresh, enquiring mind around was fun. It made me resolve to have a shadow more often!

Originally published at