Running two businesses and inspecting other services keeps Caroline Southgate feeling fulfilled. Robert Millett reports
As well as running her own private practice, she is the managing director of a home care service and an independent inspector for the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
As she explains: ‘I am lucky enough to do clinical work and manage a team – and I love the variety of each day.’
Mrs Southgate graduated in 1997 from the University of East London and now lives in Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
She heads a team of physiotherapists at CS Physio Ltd, and has spent many years working with patients in the local community.
It was this experience that inspired her to set up Doris Jones, a home care service that combines traditional care services with physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
‘When I was out in the community doing work with patients they often complained about the care service they were receiving,’ says Mrs Southgate.
‘The major issues seemed to be that they never knew when their carers would arrive, or who was coming and they often felt very rushed.’
With this in mind she decided to establish a service that would offer rehabilitative care, provided punctually and delivered by a small number of regular carers for each person.
Mrs Southgate launched the service, which is named after her grandmother, in 2011 and the team currently includes an occupational therapist and two physiotherapy students.
‘As we grow I hope to add further physiotherapy positions and encourage more physio students to work with us in holidays and weekends to enhance their hands-on skills,’ she says.
As well as managing her private enterprises Mrs Southgate also carries out inspections of care homes and domiciliary care companies as an independent inspector for the CQC.
The CQC is responsible for checking whether hospitals, care homes and care services in England meet national standards. This is partly achieved by conducting regular, unannounced inspections of health and social care services.
Mrs Southgate applied for her post in 2012, after first becoming a CQC panel expert for physiotherapy. She received comprehensive training to become a compliance inspector but says her clinical and community background have also been helpful.
‘I think physiotherapy has given me a critical and objective eye for detail,’ says Mrs Southgate.
‘I spend time on each inspection looking at the experiences of those using each service – talking to people and their families, asking staff about their training and finding out how well they are supported in their roles.’
After each inspection Mrs Southgate publishes her findings in an objective, evidenced report which goes live on to the CQC website.
Mrs Southgate says her role with the CQC provides the opportunity to help drive up the quality of care across the sector, and the experience she has gained has even had a helpful impact on her own work.
After studying the CQC Guidance about compliance booklet Mrs Southgate made changes to her own patient records and company procedures, in order to make them more efficient and ensure compliance.
‘I would recommend that every physio downloads the CQC Guidance about compliance or requests a copy,’ says Mrs Southgate.
‘It enhances one’s understanding of how the paperwork side of all our roles is essential to proving what we do.’
She adds that it would be beneficial for physiotherapists to cross-reference their Health and Care Professions Council and CSP guidelines with CQC compliance, so they can be ready for the demands of future services which will combine health and social care funding.
Mrs Southgate also believes that more physiotherapists could be using their skills to evaluate the quality of care services.
‘I would encourage physiotherapists with solid experience to apply to the CQC as inspectors,’ says Mrs Southgate.
‘We are well trained and relevant for these roles. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it is worth it,’ she adds. fl
- To find out more about the CQC, visit:www.cqc.org.uk
- To find out more about Doris Jones, visit: www.dorisjones.co.uk
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