Free article: How to get to ‘outstanding’

Published: Monday, 17 June 2019

James Glanville, general manager at Sunrise of Westbourne, discusses how the care community came to be rated ‘outstanding’ and how you can best prepare for a CQC inspection.


  • To ensure that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) sees only the truest reflection of your service, it’s important to be as prepared as possible for an inspection.
  • The care team need to be prepared, and they need to be reassured that the inspection will involve showing the CQC the great work they are already doing, in order to remove the fear factor.
  • A happy home is key to success, and everyone, from team members to clinical leads, needs to take the time to get to know residents and make them feel not only valued, but a member of the family.
  • It’s important to ensure that all your team members know the service well and are briefed on the requirements of an inspection adequately.

At Sunrise of Westbourne, every single one of our team members works hard to ensure that our residents enjoy life to the full. Last month, we were delighted to receive a rating of ‘outstanding’ from the CQC, in recognition of the committed care and support we provide every single day. Sunrise of Westbourne has come a long way, and I believe we have much to offer the social care sector through sharing our journey and tips for best practice to ensure you are as prepared as possible for a comprehensive and far-reaching inspection.

Preparation is key

To ensure that CQC sees only the truest reflection of your service, it’s important to be as prepared as possible for an inspection. We spent the two years leading up to our inspection getting our team ready.

A big part of this was working on the confidence of team members. We continuously assured our team members that they would only need to show inspectors the great work they were already doing and, with several services in the local area being rated ‘inadequate,’ this proved to be important in reassuring our team and taking away the fear factor.

Create a welcoming team

At Sunrise of Westbourne, we don’t just see our team as staff members, but as a family ready to extend a welcoming arm to anyone who wants to join us. Our CQC rating was as much about the wider community of professionals as it was about our colleagues. Inspectors spoke to local paramedics, GPs and other members in the local area who work alongside us and found that they feel a big part of Sunrise. Inspectors even found members of local ambulance crews sitting with staff and residents to tuck into breakfast, before leaving for a call and soon returning to get back to another freshly prepared meal!

After 14 years in the business, I’ve found that care homes can be wary of outside influence in their communities. At Sunrise of Westbourne, however, we operate on a policy of openness that ensures we are always ready to consider the strong relationships and sharing of practice that can be developed through forging links with everyone who can play a part in our delivery of care – so do take the time to get to know everyone you can.

Creating a happy home is key. Everyone, from team members to clinical leads, takes the time to get to know our residents and make them feel not only valued, but a member of the family. With a low staff turnover and continuity among our heads of department, we have realised just how important it is to create a network of friendly faces that is embedded in the local area.

Be proactive

It’s important to ensure that all your team members know the service well and are briefed on the requirements of an inspection adequately. That way, they’ll be in the best position to support inspectors, whether a CQC inspection is announced or not.

We have worked hard to ensure that both in the time leading up to our inspection, and after it, no one has rested on their laurels. For example, our clinical lead proved to be integral to our rating, yet continues to drive forward improvement of our work in offering the best medical care possible to our residents.

In addition, since our inspection, we’ve continued to expand our range of exciting activities to ensure there’s always something going on at Sunrise of Westbourne. With a dedicated activities and volunteers coordinator, we are continuing to consider new ways of making a difference to someone’s day and have lots more workshops, activities and charity fundraising days lined up. It’s important not to become complacent, as this will ensure you’re always ready for a quality evaluation.

Know what to expect

Over the course of the inspection, CQC inspectors were able to watch the typical daily lives of our residents. This included daily physical exercise sessions, as well as the three main meals and fun activities – inspectors were able to gain a real understanding of everything going on, so it’s important to be ready to share insight into this.

The inspectors themselves also proved to be important. A group made up of a medical, community and lead inspector spoke to anybody and everybody and were open to discussing a range of topics – with one inspector having over 17 years’ experience in the sector, it became clear that we were learning just as much from them as they did from us!

Inspectors also checked our reviews on before they arrived, so had a clear idea of what to expect. With most of our reviews being broadly positive, it soon became a case of inspectors looking for evidence of what they had read about. While no comprehensive feedback was provided on the day, we could see the positive body language that this all resulted in.

Always look ahead

No matter how positive your CQC report may be, it’s important not only to maintain but to improve what you’re doing. At Sunrise of Westbourne, a total refurbishment of our premises means that we’re looking ahead and are ready for change. This project will see every communal space and bedroom transformed as we become one of the biggest Sunrise communities in the UK.

Upon our next inspection, building work will be complete and will demonstrate the culmination of an investment that shows we are in it for the long haul. It is crucial to show inspectors that you are considering how you can continue to drive forward improvement and continue a journey of progress.

Be proud

Lastly, it’s important to be proud of the care your service has to offer. After our inspection, we realised just how important it is that people living in the local area understand this too, so that you become a first choice of care and support.

Equally, it’s important to show inspectors just how proud you are. Team members who take the time to talk to inspectors and share stories, anecdotes and personal experiences will demonstrate the level of compassion and dedication that can be found throughout your service.

Ultimately, do not forget to feel proud of your inspection result. While Sunrise of Westbourne was delighted with the entirety of our report, we were especially honoured to be rated outstanding in the key line of enquiry of providing a caring service, as it’s this that demonstrates the heart and dedication presented by our team. Be prepared and open to feeling a similar way.

About the author

James Glanville is general manager at Sunrise of Westbourne.

Most frequently read