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Are you prepared for the new Care Quality Commission inspections?

What do the new Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections mean for your organisation? In search of answers, Penna’s Senior Consultants Zeynep Livatyali-Esen and Amin Aziz recently hosted a round table event where they heard from two extensively experienced Directors of Adults Social Care and discussed their experiences of the pilot in Birmingham and Lincolnshire.

Joined by our esteemed panellists Graeme Betts – currently working for Birmingham City Council as the Strategic Director for Adult Social Care and Glen Garrod Ex-Executive Director of Adult Care and Community Wellbeing, Lincolnshire County Council, this was always going to be a fascinating learning experience. Each experienced leaders in their own right, it was an opportunity to learn about two different leaders’ approaches to inspection readiness, which both used methods of empowerment and engagement to motivate their workforce and take them on a positive experience through this CQC pilot. It was a very engaging session, with free-flowing conversation between our panellists and delegates and some great insights and takeaways.

The first topic on the agenda was preparation, and how it is key to understanding how well your workforce is already performing, and ensuring ongoing success. This allows time to understand and address any challenges within the council and is vital to making sure no nasty surprises crop up. This stage is so important for making sure the council is ready for external inspection, as staff need to feel empowered to come forward with any concerns to allow the team to address them going forward. Listening to both Graeme and Glen, it was evident that clear and strong leadership is paramount. From the experience of these two councils, CQC has the potential to impact everyone, with staff taking their guidance from the leaders at the very top. So messaging needs to be unified, consistent, and honest – ‘ruthlessly honest’ according to Graeme, who pointed out that as a council you should be in this mindset when going through the self-assessment questionnaire. It is important to start by ‘looking in the mirror’. 

To engage their workforce, the leadership also needs to set a clear vision which will also help them realise that what they do helps others. The importance of enabling your team was a major topic of discussion, touching on many tips for putting yourself in the best position for an up-and-coming assessment, including; setting the right policies, ensuring the right processes are in place, and keeping close to your Principal Social Worker (PSW). Making sure that your PSW (as the expert in Safeguarding matters) is strong, confident and engaged in the process from planning to conclusion creates a strong point of contact with CQC, which acts as a guide to the rest of the team. 

Now, how do we embed the vision? To start with, we need to focus on the individual and their story, creating a platform whereby they can bring their experiences to life and be heard. Allowing the workforce to explore this with those they are supporting will create a more authentic and comprehensive service. To this point, it was evident that the continuous professional development of workforce practice is imperative to the success of assessments. Enabling a learning environment where all individuals can contribute to the governance of auditing information and assessment preparation can go a long way. It places the experience of those they work with at the forefront, ensuring Adults Social Care services are truly targeted.

What was great to hear was that as much as there was anxiety in the preparation beforehand, both councils were able to say that their staff actually enjoyed the inspection process. They were confident in the message they were conveying and found the engagement with CQC was a very worthwhile process for the department to gauge where they were at. Both Graeme and Glen said that they thought it was a very useful reminder of the importance of Adult Social Care to society, and why they do what they do.

It was truly an insightful session, with a wide range of topics covered, but the key message that came across time and time again was: ‘having the right people in the right place’ is imperative to success, with matching skills to jobs going a long way in this space. At Penna, we are keen to keep enabling the sector to learn, develop and find the right solutions. We will keep holding sessions on topics that the sector thinks are valuable, and we extend our thanks again to Graeme and Glen for sharing their time with us.

Please feel free to reach out if you would like to discuss anything further we have mentioned or if there is a topic you think we should explore further with a roundtable or a webinar. Contact the team at and

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