A Cornerstone of best practice for care home managers

Senior management at care home operator HC-One recognised the importance of embedding consistent best practice in the vital role of Home Manager. The business knew it had great managers, delivering excellent care and wanted to capture this best practice and translate it into on-the-job learning and support tools. The goal was to help raise all to the standard of the best, and drastically reduce time to competence for new managers.

“I really enjoy using Cornerstone and believe it’s a fantastic tool to help me progress in my role as manager.”

Feedback from HC-One Home Manager

Working closely with key stakeholders at all levels of HC-One management, Acteon devised and implemented a process to capture best practice and use this to inform the development of practical and accessible performance support tools. Fundamental to any performance support strategy has to be a clear identification and definition of the required tasks and processes. This needs to be underpinned by purpose and context for the task so that learners understand the relevance and consequence of following it. Home Managers needed to realise the benefits of changing their practice if they were to engage with the performance support programme.

Capturing best practice

Our process of identifying and defining best practice in key tasks began with selecting high-performing managers and asking them to complete a diary of their daily work activity over a period of a month. This defined the content that needed to be captured, organised and embedded in the new programme. These same colleagues were brought together for a workshop to help define the key actions and habits of an effective Home Manager.

We collated and refined the outcomes of the diaries and workshop to develop Cornerstone. Cornerstone is a home-grown, unique set of best practices, systems and processes that were already in existence, but not systematically and consistently used.

Creating practical performance support tools

“Cornerstone provides a great reference and structured approach to the running of the home and has helped empower not only me but both my deputy and unit manager.”

Feedback from HC-One Home Manager

The second critical step was to translate this best practice into a practical toolkit to guide everyday work in a Care Home. The toolkit is functional and accessible, and it ensures routine tasks are completed on time, to the right level of quality and recorded appropriately. There are three parts to Cornerstone toolkit that help Home Managers plan, do and report:

The Manager’s Diary sets out the key tasks and activities of the Home Manager on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It guides them through their working day, helping plan time, make notes and ensure that all the essential tasks are completed and evidenced. Core Activities set out detailed guidance and coaching in the eight essential activities that underpin effective home management. These Core Activities were identified by examining the practices of effective mangers as documented in their daily diaries.

The diary and core activities that link with Cornerstone Key Files help to organise critical documents and records so that they are complete and easy to access by anyone. This helps drive consistency and accuracy in the documentation that underpins quality and safety, creating a vital audit trail that can be passed from Manager to deputy to person in charge as required.

These three parts of the Cornerstone toolkit comprise a practical set of performance support resources used every day by over 200 Home Managers, in their workplace and at the point of need. The toolkit drives consistency and quality across the organisation, and is invaluable for new managers coming into a home for the first time.

Cornerstone is a 'live' programme, and the toolkit is reviewed and updated regularly. Feedback from managers is incorporated, as well as any updates to processes and procedures. Use of the toolkit is supported by an online portal to provide easy access to a range of deeper learning resources for managers. This straightforward but powerful knowledge sharing tool allows HC-One managers direct access to the Cornerstone documents themselves, best practice videos, podcasts, case studies and support materials from the manager’s induction training. Over time, the portal has built into a comprehensive performance support tool.