We speak to Elizabeth Forbes Stobbe, author of the new book Lead with Care, about the CQC’s regulatory approach, differentiating your care business and caring for yourself and your staff.
Inspiration for the Book
Writing a book is not a simple undertaking. It requires tremendous self-discipline, along with a real passion and belief that what you are creating is worth reading. Elizabeth Stobbe’s experience on the frontlines and in the front offices of social care lead her to write her debut book ‘Lead with Care’, a veritable manual for those looking to set up – and differentiate – their own care agency.
“People don’t take the care industry seriously.”
“There are so many care companies out there, and everyone seems to be doing the same thing,” Stobbe told us. “I say to my clients – those small care companies that are starting or are in their early years – you have to differentiate yourself. For care, or healthcare, you have to be different.
“The book is really a business book about starting in the care business,” she explained.
Best Advice for CQC
A career providing care means a career working alongside the regulator, and we were curious about Elizabeth’s experience with the CQC. She outlines a variety of ways for providers to be different and stand out from their competitors throughout the book, along with a wealth of advice drawn from her years of experience on everything from regulatory alignment to best hiring practice.
“For the CQC, it’s all about safeguarding,” she explains. And whilst safeguarding is best ensured through effective policies and procedures, Stobbe points out that it is not enough to simply write them.
“I always made sure the staff read their policy and their procedure, but also not just read it, that they recorded the read and understood it. So I asked questions about it.”
Paperwork comes up frequently during our conversation as Stobbe reiterates how important it is to have records to evidence everything you do to the CQC.
“[When it comes to] how you recruit your staff, that’s important. Make sure you have your paperwork to show how you recruit because that speaks to your safety standards. Sending staff out to work is about safety.
“That’s why software, CarePlanner or whoever, is important because staff, managers, leaders, they need to know: you’re regulated by the CQC, everything has to be written down, you need that information.”
The need for thorough documentation is a longstanding one in care. However, as Stobbe was quick to point out, recording information is not enough. The key to impressing the CQC lies in showing them what you have done with the information you record and how you plan to utilise that information to shape your care going forward.
“Making sure that companies have a complaint procedure or policy is also very important: have you dealt with it; have you actioned it; what have you done about it? I think that [with] anything CQC wants to see, it’s really about you’ve got the evidence, you’ve got it written down. How did you deal with it?”
Care Begins in your Home
A crucial point Stobbe raises in her book focuses, almost counter-intuitively, on self-care. With so much of your attention going towards your service users it can be easy to overwork and burn yourself out – something that is a common enough occurrence in the sector without the added pressures of running a business.
“Whether it’s healthcare or social care; carers, doctors, nurses – they don’t do self-care!” Stobbe says. “That is why we have a lot of burnout. What I feel is really important moving forward for the care industry is self-care, and to recognise when we need to stop. We feel a pain and we say; ‘no let’s carry on’. It’s automatic. But I think when you’re caring for people, you have to care for yourself first, because [otherwise] you can’t care for the clients , particularly in domiciliary care or care homes.”
But, as Stobbe acknowledges, it’s not enough to simply tell people to feel better. There has to be a genuine effort to connect with staff and understand their needs, just as any good carer would with their service users.
“It’s about leadership – the managers, the directors, or the team leader – they need to recognise the importance of self care, and that is what will keep a care business going.”
As always, leadership is key to success and it is refreshing to hear a call for leadership on self care. Managing a care agency is demanding and it can be tempting to push yourself as hard as possible to meet those demands. Taking time for yourself, and encouraging your team to do the same, will help you build a balanced and lasting foundation for your agency.
The Value of Pride
In ‘Lead with Care’ Stobbe champions encouraging your staff to pursue certifications and qualifications such as the NVQ. Her reasoning for doing so goes beyond just education. Along with the practical benefits of formal training, there is also the ‘official’ nature and sense of pride that comes from being recognised for your professional skills.
“I wholeheartedly believe people need qualification and they need to be trained. You see in a lot of other [registration] bodies, they do training. But there isn’t a registration body for care. Nurses have to be under the Royal College of Nursing or nursing midwifery council. My idea would be to have something like that for Carers because I think then they will be taken seriously. people don’t take the care industry seriously.”
The pursuit of proportional appreciation is an ongoing one for social care. The government sponsored recruitment campaigns for social care consistently point to the value of social care, and the pride carers take in it. However, until this impetus is reflected more formally Stobbe doesn’t see perspectives changing.
“Their job is not just giving somebody a cup of tea, or turning somebody over. It is somebody’s life, somebody’s life is in your hands.”
“But I wish there was a body or some sort of organisation that’s about building their pride. They will realise it is actually serious, that what they’re doing, their job is not just giving somebody a cup of tea, or turning somebody over. It is somebody’s life, somebody’s life is in your hands.”
Lead with Care should be a landmark book for the sector – not because it says anything outlandish or shocking, but because it contains so much sense. Drawing from her deep wells of experience, passion and business acumen, Stobbe has produced a book that should be required reading for anyone starting out as a care coordinator and well worth a gander for more experienced managers looking to improve their service.
You can pick up a copy of the book on amazon, through the link below:
Lead with Care
What’s more, if you ask nicely, we’re pretty sure Elizabeth would be happy to answer your more in-depth questions too!