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Why? You tell me!

A while ago had an interesting conversation and an exchange of emails with Vic Citarella, one of the social care sector’s leading lights about the future of residential care. Vic runs The Residential Forum, which focuses on promoting high standards in residential care.

In recent months we’ve been charmed and uplifted by Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’, we’ve been challenged to look again at the inspiring approach to design and care delivery provided at the multi award winning Hogeweyk service in the Netherlands, and now being developed in the UK by WCS Care. We have also seen the re-emergence of discussions on the use of technology in residential homes, and of course, the long term impact of continued underfunding is never far from the minds of everyone who works in or is close to the residential care sector. In today’s Northern Echo, I was so pleased to see that the Channel 4 programme has inspired a care home in Newton Aycliffe to set up a playgroup for residents and babies Link

There is no doubt that we will need a residential care sector for decades to come, but it needs to change. Providers need to think differently about their future, and programmes like ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’ are challenging the sector to look beyond the day-to-day delivery of services, the regulator, budgets and all of the other things that occupy their minds.

A few years ago I asked the organisation I led to think differently about itself into its future. I talked about the need, as I saw it, to rejuvenate, redefine and reposition the organisation over the coming few years. I felt passionately that the organisation was in a great position to build on its undoubted strengths to create a new kind of provider organisation. To help people understand, I quoted Steve Jobs, who as CEO of Apple said ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. I then borrowed Simon Sinek’s thinking from his amazing book ‘Start with Why’ to illustrate my thinking and shared it widely. In his book Simon Sinek talks about The Golden Circle. He says that organisations will know and understand ‘what’ they do. They will know and understand ‘How’ they do it, but few will know ‘why’ they do it.

Perhaps in residential care, the focus of attention, be that from regulatory bodies, commissioning authorities and internally has for too long been on ‘what’ provider organisations do, and ‘how’ they do it, and maybe not enough on ‘why’ they do what they do. It may be too late to ‘Start with Why’, but perhaps with a little nudge from Channel 4, asking and answering the question ‘why’ will see provider organisations rejuvenating, redefining and repositioning themselves to create a new and different future for the residential care sector.

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