Andrew Knight, Managing director, Residential Care Services
How long have you worked in health and social care?
I’ve been a non-executive director of an NHS Trust, and, although this is my first role in social care, I had first hand experience from a young age of what it’s like to have a loved one who is living with dementia.
How long have you worked for Care UK and what does your role entail?
I joined Care UK in February 2014. As MD of Care UK’s residential care business I provide the leadership to help the business to grow its reputation of high quality care, and to create an environment where our people can deliver the best possible care to home residents.
Day to day my quality-related tasks might include sitting with the Quality and Governance team to discuss what dementia care means; I might be visiting homes and speaking to residents, relatives and colleagues; I might be looking over governance reports or chairing a quarterly governance meeting with our regional directors. And of course there are frequent liaison meetings to attend with CQC and scrutiny committees of local authority customers.
What do you think are the most important aspects of the service that we provide to the people we care for?
It’s got to be ensuring their safety and dignity. That sounds simple but safety alone covers a huge range of areas, from ensuring that a resident receives the right type and level of care, to being given the correct dose of medication, to ensuring that they’re protected from things like fire – or, looking back to early 2014, flood.
What does high quality care mean to you?
I think the best care is person-centred care, which is entirely tailored to the needs and wishes of the individual. With over 7,000 residents, delivering quality care is no small challenge! It’s also important to take a step back and remind ourselves that our care homes are our residents’ homes. High quality care means honouring a resident’s desire to get up late, to decorate their room in a certain way, or to enjoy their favourite food on a regular basis.
What do you feel are the main drivers that help to improve care?
Excellent colleagues are the biggest driver to improving care. Our challenge is recruiting people with the right skills, but just as importantly, a deeply caring attitude. Robust processes, checks and balances are all vital to ensure that we learn from good and bad experience, and we continuously improve, but ultimately it’s about people.
What part of the health and social care experience do you think is most important?
Again, it’s the people who deliver that experience to residents who are most important, and I believe that home managers are key to that. We’re developing a network of increased support around home managers to reflect that, as the home manager’s role is becoming increasingly difficult. They’re supported by regional directors who are there to develop their home managers and to advise and support. What’s more, each regional director now works with a clinical development manager to help improve quality care and processes. Their quality of care is supported on a wider level by our Quality and Governance team who do internal audits and checks to help us comply with external regulator standards. In Care UK we are lucky enough to have a range of specialists within our support teams whose role it is to support our homes to enable them to deliver high quality care to our residents.