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An Outstanding Legacy

Currently only one per cent of care homes achieve the Outstanding rating. But, far from being a bad thing, this is a great thing. If we are to see a step change in care for the elderly and those with dementia, we must set the bar very, very high, says Chris Harding, founder, The Daily Sparkle

Very few care home achieve the accolade of Outstanding – and while it would be great to see more care home achieving this – I am also reassured that the standard for reaching this accreditation has remained so high. An Outstanding home is one that really meets the needs of residents in a real and profound way, where every aspect of their day is structured around who they are and what they need. It is person-centred care at the very core of its meaning and it is about everyone in the home being completely committed to delivering the best care that they can.

At a recent conference about Outstanding homes, it became clear that those homes with this prestigious rating all had certain things in common. Time and time again it was to do with the Whole Home Approach, about all staff getting involved and engaging with residents. It also had lots to do with staff retention and continuity of care, that residents were able to build ongoing and lasting relationships. The other thing that really stood out was the first impressions you get of a home. Inspectors said that they could often tell a lot about the home from the minute they entered it - the atmosphere, the feel of the home; was it a happy and positive place or a dull, negative place? They said there was no covering that up, either. That the truth of a home’s energy and ethos will always shine through. I would agree.

One fantastic example of an Outstanding home is the extraordinary Old Vicarage care home in Leigh, Dorset, which was run by the inspirational Annie Sinnott MBE, until her sudden death in April this year. That the home was awarded Outstanding status last year is testament to the incredible impact Annie made on everyone she worked with and everyone she met. Speaking about her achievements, the chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, Andrea Sutcliffe, told “The Old Vicarage is a great example of how excellent care can be achieved, and is testament to the hard work and determination of Annie and her staff in ensuring a safe and caring environment, where people are treated with dignity and respect.”

I was actually due to visit Annie in April to talk about her Outstanding home and learn more about what she did and video some of what I saw in the home. After her death, her daughter contacted me to say that she knew Annie would have wanted this video to be made, and so they’ve invited me to come and see them later in the year. I am very sad that I won’t get to meet Annie, but I am honoured to be able to see everything she worked so hard for and to understand more about what makes an Outstanding home. The Old Vicarage was a shining example of the Whole Home Approach, and I am sure there will be much to learn.

The Outstanding rating is very special. Only one per cent or less homes get this rating. Someone recently said to me that it was rather sad that so few homes are able to get that rating. But I disagree. I think it’s fantastic. If we are to see a step change in care for the elderly and those with dementia, we must set the bar very, very high. We need homes to be operating at such a level that it is far beyond what is expected of them. Aiming higher than we thought possible is what we must all do.

And so, I am really looking forward to seeing all this and more when I visit The Old Vicarage and am very grateful to Annie’s family for the opportunity to meet them. I look forward to sharing experiences with you.

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