Why Excellent Service User Engagement Is Vital for Health and Social Care Providers

In England a clean bill of health from the Care Quality Commission – the national health and adult social care regulator – is essential for continued business success. CQC publish inspection reports and notify commissioners and the national and local press when a provider is found to breach the standards. The impact on your business of the outcome of inspections can be substantial, for good or bad.

Many providers are yet to experience their first inspection under the new system of regulation brought in from April 2010. It is based on 28 Essential Standards of Quality and Safety which focus on the ‘outcomes’ those using services should experience if the provider meets the regulations set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities Regulations 2010).

Providers are however facing further new challenges with the fast rising tide of published service user/patient and carer feedback. Websites such as iwantgreatcare.com and patientopinion.org.uk and NHS Choices hold an increasing database of reported user experience. The government too announced plans to implement a review system by service users, in a similar fashion to TripAdvisor. The Daily Telegraph on 12 December 2011 published the story with the byline: “Care homes for the elderly are to be given star ratings by the public under a new online system, which ministers say will reveal “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Full details will be set out in a white paper on social care, due to be published in the spring, when the Government is also due to respond to a commission calling for radical changes to the way care of the elderly is funded. Commissioners and CQC can be expected to review all such feedback and there is no doubt it will influence where contracts are placed and how frequently the regulator undertakes unannounced inspections of providers who receive poor feedback.

Resources such as these are also increasingly being used by patients, service users and carers in selecting their preferred health or social care providers. There are real business advantages to being excellent at service user involvement as a means of enhancing quality and experience. Being able to demonstrate high quality services in ways that are meaningful to service users and patients will increasingly become an essential business requirement.

Many providers still depend on questionnaires filled in by their service users to find out how they are doing. It can however, be difficult to get a statistically significant response rate just by relying on completed questionnaires, the feedback is not ‘realtime’ and the methodology is not effective for many, such as those with cognitive impairment. Equally the impact of such feedback on influencing the behaviour of staff can be limited. It feels too historical and limited quite often. Crucially they often give no clear indication of what would, in the view of those using the service, improve matters. Many providers fail to involve those using services in deciding on action in response to feedback.

Given that the ‘gold standard’ for monitoring care standards compliance IS the outcome for patient and service users, it is important that providers of services adopt new and more effective methods of service user engagement. There are many proven techniques out there, including for people with dementia, learning difficulties or cognitive impairment.

With the regulatory move away from reliance on policies and procedures to ‘outcomes’, the most successful businesses will be those that understand and implement the cultural changes quickly and decisively. Many health care providers looking for support with the new regulations are turning to expert healthcare management consultants for advice on systems that enhance service user involvement, demonstrate compliance, monitor quality and flag where improvements are needed.

Health and Social Care – A Recession Proof Career (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this article I analysed the NVQ Health and Social Care courses available to move you to the next level in your career as a Health or Care Worker and what you need to do to get a job within the Health and social Care sector if you are currently working elsewhere.

This article is a continuation but in a further upward and forward direction which is at management level or within the teaching sector.

If you have been working within the Health and Social Care sector for some years it might be time to take another step further in the right direction. What do you enjoy doing at work? Within the period of working as a care worker have you had to mentor other staff members and show them what to do? Are you currently carrying out the responsibilities of a manager at work but do not have qualifications to show for it? You should go ahead gathering evidence to prove yourself competent of working as a manager by acquiring NVQ Level 4 Health and Social Care and the Leadership and management course.

This course also comprises of 4 mandatory units and some optional units which you will make your choice in reference to your skill scan. Our products are coming out soon for NVQ Level 4, watch out for it.

You can complete this course within 6 – 12 months and the rewards are great. You can do a Google search on Health and Social Care jobs as managers and see if the pay package is worth your while.

On the other hand if you would be interested in the assessing role or the teaching role, this is a rewarding role to pursue as well. I am an NVQ Assessor and I believe we are changing lives and supporting others to get a hold of their career and future. Reflect on the role of your assessor if you are already taking an NVQ course. Would you like to take up such a role? Don’t be discouraged if you think you did not get enough support from your assessor or your assessor looked disorganised. There are standards of good assessment practice to follow. You would be made aware of these when you go through the A1 Award course.

You might be curious to know how much your job will be worth when you step up to the challenge of becoming an NVQ Assessor, I will leave that to you to browse the internet and get a hold of this information and reset your goals for 2009. This course can also be completed within 6 – 12months. You will be required to assess 2 NVQ candidates as the major part of this course is practical rather than theoretical.

If you are already an NVQ Assessor and you are undertaking teaching roles like delivering of underpinning knowledge sessions you will be required to have the PTTLS Award by 2010 in order to keep teaching. However you do not need this course if you are purely undertaking assessing roles only.

My advice is that things change all the time in our career, no knowledge gained is useless when you take additional courses, so go for City & Guilds PTTLS 7303 course titled- Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector.

This course is available in most colleges or training centres and you can complete this course within 3 months or less. This course will allow you start a teaching career as you can apply for lecturing jobs within the adult education once you have completed it. However, this course does not qualify you to work with individuals within the nursery, primary or secondary school level. It qualifies you to teach within the Further Education Sector.

Are you wondering if this will make a difference to how much you can earn now? Do your research and you will be amazed.

“Nothing really changes until you do something to change your situation. Apply for courses to take you to the next level in your career now. All things are possible if you believe you can do it!”

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