Making the connections:
care home providers, the social care sector and NICE
George Coxon is director and owner of Classic Care Homes. George tells us about the care home sector and the role of our guidance and advice products.
“The thing that impresses me about NICE,” begins George, “is the longevity of Andrew Dillon’s position as chief executive. In the health and social care sector, the constant change and churn can be quite overwhelming. Having a stabilising influence like NICE, with Andrew at the helm, is reassuring.”
George Coxon, Director of Classic Care Homes
George has worked in the residential care market for 13 years. Before that, he worked in the NHS for over 30 years. His company, Classic Care Homes, is an umbrella organisation for the 2 residential homes that George runs in Devon. Pottles Court, which focuses on dementia care, has 17 beds, while Summercourt has 19. “We are a small provider in comparison to some,” George acknowledges. “But we provide first-class care in a ‘home from home’ environment.
An expanding remit
Back in 2012, we announced that we would be producing guidance for the social care sector. George met this with enthusiasm. “I’ve long been a supporter of NICE,” he explains. “I used to work as a senior commissioning manager at Devon Primary Care Trust. So, I was already well aware of NICE and the work that you do. Yet, it’s fair to say that this isn’t typical across social care. For many, NICE’s work is still an alien concept.”
The announcement also sent a powerful signal about the 2 sectors working together. “We do need connection; we do need integration. Until we fuse together health and social care, both sectors will lose out,” he says.
George takes a keen interest in developments across health and social care. He uses a variety of channels to keep abreast of our work. “As well as following NICE on Twitter, I’m also signed up to receive the monthly social care bulletin. I sometimes visit the website too. I see NICE’s implementation consultant for the south at various local events. In fact, he delivered a short presentation at our local Christmas jamboree!”
As well as staying up-to-date himself, George has a responsibility to ensure his staff follow best practice guidance. He often talks to them about NICE during informal in-house training sessions. But, he is mindful to deliver our recommendations in digestible bite-sized chunks. “Our staff are able, kind and enthusiastic individuals,” says George, “but they are not academics. Many are already nervous about the amount of paperwork that they’ve got to complete. So, I would never suggest that they go on the NICE website and read the latest social care guideline. They would find it completely overwhelming.”
Instead, George and his small team of managers adopt a blended-learning approach. This includes group training sessions, mentoring and supervision. In this way, they can prioritise key recommendations, tailoring and embedding them, to help his team feel more confident.
George is also involved in the dissemination of our guidance at a regional level. He is Chair of the Devon Residential Care Quality Kite Mark. Made up of over 60 local care homes, this provider-led movement aims to drive up the quality of care provided by its members.
“The Devon Residential Care Quality Kite Mark aims to use the best available evidence in everything we do,” says George. “Obviously, NICE guidance has an important part to play.”
For example, as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week, the group held a workshop on end of life care. With reference to our guidance on end of life care and other credible sources, the group devised a peer review template. They will use this to go into one another’s care homes. By using an appreciative enquiry model, they can record practices that support good end of life care.
“The peer-review model is the jewel in our crown,” enthuses George. “It’s something that we’re really proud of. You’ve got to remember that in many ways, these businesses are our competitors. So, to be open and transparent with each other, to collectively drive up the quality of care across Devon, is something to celebrate.”
The sheer volume of guidance and advice is a key challenge for George. So much of what we produce has relevance to older people living in care homes. “There seems to be a disconnect between the information cascading down and the reality for staff in my little care home,” he acknowledges. “We’ve got to convert the academic world into the language of a jobbing carer. Any resources that can help embed the guidance into local practice are welcome.”
Despite these challenges, George remains upbeat. He concludes, “I believe that to be the best, we’ve got to constantly aspire to be better. NICE guidance is a valuable tool in helping us achieve this.”
Through our shared learning case studies, we collect real life examples of how our guidance and standards have been put into practice. Again, we've grouped together those relevant to a care home setting for ease of use.