The importance of quality: Closing the loop
As a leading provider in health and social care, we’re focused on providing excellent quality care and support. Because when the people we support receive a quality focussed approach, they’re enabled to live the life they choose.
We caught up with Karina Johnson, our Quality Development Manager at Voyage Care, to discuss everything quality. Having worked in health and social care for over 40 years, and at Voyage Care for 10 years, who better to ask about quality in the sector!
Q: Tell us about why quality is so important
Quality underpins absolutely everything we do, all the support we provide, and ultimately results in the people we support living meaningful and happy lives in the way they want to. It’s so important because of the impact it has.
For example, we strive to support people to ensure they get good health care support because we understand that there are health inequalities. Without quality care and support, people will struggle to achieve this. We constantly look to our quality policies, procedures and guidelines to incorporate the required standards and best practice, which in turn ensures the people we support are receiving the care they deserve.
Q: How do you ensure high quality in Voyage Care?
In lots of different ways. In the Quality Development team, we are constantly horizon scanning, taking a wider look at the sector then benchmarking to see how we can continuously improve. For example, we’re involved in local forums, Learning Disability England, and are signed up to all National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines that are applicable. We are always seeking new information and ways of improving things to make it easier for our busy teams. We also produce a Quality Account each year and a Quality Questionnaire for the people we support to complete – there’s nothing like this elsewhere.
Together, we use our experience and knowledge to work closely with our residential care homes, supported living services, and Domiciliary Care Agencies (DCA) to provide additional support and coaching to managers and team members. This can help services, such as Norfolk DCA, to achieve their outstanding CQC rating.
Q: Can you explain the Quality Questionnaire?
Yes! We’re now in the fourth year of our Quality Questionnaire. Our Quality Questionnaire is a questionnaire that we ask each person we support to complete.
There isn’t a lot of research into ‘what good care and support for people with learning disabilities’ means. So, we took the information we could find about quality of life outcomes from different researchers to create our questions. We then use the feedback from the people we support to continually improve our quality of care as it allows a comparison of where people have been supported and made improvements in their lives, year on year.
We’ve seen that people have increased their independence and were able to be part of their local community more. They reduced the amount of medication they needed to take, and their behaviours reduced – so better outcomes.
For example, previously we’ve seen that people have increased their independence and were able to be part of their local community more. They reduced the amount of medication they needed to take, and their behaviours reduced – so better outcomes. These outcomes are then fed back to the teams to support people to improve further in their review meetings and help Voyage Care decide what they need to work on next, such as supporting employment.
Q: And what is our annual Quality Account?
NHS healthcare providers are required to produce an annual Quality Account, so we mirror this but have changed what we report on to reflect what’s important to the people we support, to independently produce our own account as part of our open and transparent approach.
Our Quality Account takes an unbiased look at our services over the past year, celebrating what we have done well and what we could improve on. From here, we also set out our priorities and agree how we’ll achieve them for the next year.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted quality?
As everyone in the sector will agree, COVID-19 has been hard, but we’ve worked together to try to reduce the impact on the people we support and our teams. Evidence of this can be seen from some of the feedback from the Quality Questionnaire. For example, each individual should have an annual health check, which could have been impacted by COVID-19. But we saw that 93% of the people we support felt safe and over 90% still had that health check because it’s important to them and their well-being.
We’ve actually seen some great positives throughout COVID-19 with active support. We were concerned about the disruption to routines because there were less community activities people could attend.
We’ve actually seen some great positives throughout COVID-19 with active support. We were concerned about the disruption to routines because there were less community activities people could attend. Instead, we focused on increasing their independent living skills, which has had great outcomes! There were improvements in people being able make choices, in their skills, having good nutrition and feeling rested, relaxed, happy and satisfied.
As a team, we’ve ensured support is constantly provided to continue improving quality that might be affected due to the pandemic, and at the outset saw that this even resulted in reductions in behaviours that challenge.
Now we’re going back to ‘normal’, we’re supporting individuals to feel comfortable about safely going back into a busy community routine at their own pace – it can be tricky, but we try and provide the advice before and when its required!
What makes Voyage Care’s quality different to other providers?
Voyage Care has its own quality framework, so we go that extra mile for ensuring the best quality of support. This framework has three key points; safety, effectiveness and experience. Experience is just as important as safety and effectiveness because people should be safe as well as feel happy. We can show that what we do in quality and that it has an impact on how we support people and how we grow together as a company, as without quality there would be no growth!
Along with our quality projects, questionnaires and internal quality audits, we openly discuss what we need to improve on and agree achievable actions to reach this. This is agreed and reinforced by our operational management teams, and always stressed to new starters.
My favourite phrase to sum up the importance of quality is to be focused on ‘closing the loop’.
My favourite phrase to sum up the importance of quality is to be focused on ‘closing the loop’. This simply means we’re always bringing what the people we support tell us they want closer to the quality of care we provide. This is done through planning, taking action, learning, and making changes to ensure continual quality improvement.
Find out more!
If you’d like to find out more about our approach and commitment to quality, please visit our quality pages.