What does good mean?

Back from a great break over the New Year and on the train again! I was relieved to hear the news this morning saying that there was a ‘good’ a service on all underground lines. As a Londoner, this really is good news!

An hour later I am at the underground station squeezing on to the platform as the announcements confirm that there is still a good service operating.   Ten minutes later I push my way (aiming for an intercity train that I can’t afford to miss) on to the tube. At the next station, more people force their way on and I am now nose to nose with a large man and willing the train to get to my destination before I ‘lose it’ – so much for the relaxed holiday feel!

Image source: The Evening Standard

As I stand there my head starts thinking about ‘good’. Is this really a good service? I take it that good means there are no delays and that the right number of trains are running … also that the trains are serviced well, the staff have their essential training and that health and safety standards are met. However, good clearly doesn’t relate to how many people are on the trains, how comfortable they are or whether they are satisfied with the service! I wonder how many people complain or how many, like me, accept that this is just how it is on the underground at peak times? The harsh reality being, that unless you can get a bus, train, cycle, walk or taxi (not possible for most) you have no choice. You have little power as a customer and you simply accept this version of ‘good’.

Then my head starts thinking about good in another context. Before Christmas I heard that a service that I have been reviewing was awarded a good by CQC. I was truly shocked. The staff team were proud. I felt that the challenges raised in my review were weakened….if CQC say it’s good…well then, it is good!

14 people, £6,000 a month, shared bathrooms, shared living rooms, support to go out once a week if ‘lucky’. I’d like to say that each person gets adequate personal care and from a medical point of view they probably do, BUT this care is provided by staff they and their families haven’t chosen, the staff have very little knowledge about each individual, very little knowledge about their past and generally get to spend very little time with individuals. The most concerning thing to me is that many of the staff team think that because of the complexity both in terms of learning and physical disabilities that this is as good as it gets for each of the 14 people.

Don’t get me wrong, the staff do try, there are some elements of creative individual support taking place…..but…..a good from ‘CQC’ why?

I look froward to reading the report when published and will do all possible to support the team to see beyond compliance (which is essentially what ‘good’ is from CQC) and to aspire to truly ‘good’, individually designed lives for each and every person they support.

We like the way our friends at Aldingbourne Trust encourage their staff to think about support. You can see the foundation in the image below. This is the essential keeping people well support ‘stuff’ that must be monitored, must take place BUT it’s not what needs to be talked about, celebrated…..that’s the stretch and magic ‘stuff’. The team aspire to free staff to know and ensure the foundation is in place and to focus on the what makes a good ordinary life for each and every person supported.


Image source: Aldingbourne Trust

Let’s celebrate the foundations of support ( the essential compliance), however please let’s work together to ensure that we all aspire for so much more!

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