First, the definition. Workplace culture is what makes your organisation unique. It is the character and personality of your organisation as created by the shared characteristics of your people: their values, beliefs, interactions, behaviours and attitudes.

Since the new way of inspecting has been introduced, there is a bigger emphasis on assessing the overall culture of the organisation as a whole – in particular, routing out closed cultures

Closed cultures

While positive culture supports excellence, a poor – or closed – culture in a social care setting increases the risk of harm. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) defines a closed culture as one that “can lead to harm, including human rights breaches, such as abuse. In these services, people are more likely to be at risk of deliberate or unintentional harm.”

CQC want to make sure the services they regulate have a stronger safety and learning culture.

Using the new quality statements, CQC are now checking how well providers promote 'learning for safety' and a positive learning atmosphere.

What is safety through learning (as defined by the CQC)
‘We want all services to have stronger safety and learning cultures. Health and care staff work hard every day to make sure people’s care is safe. Despite this, safety is still a key concern for us as it’s consistently the poorest area of performance in our assessments.
It’s time to prioritise safety: creating stronger safety cultures, focusing on learning, improving expertise, listening and acting on people’s experiences, and taking clear and proactive action when safety doesn't improve.’ March 2024

Developing a Learning Culture

  • A learning organisation not only values and encourages learning from its own experiences, but looks beyond itself for lessons, and avoids complacency.
  • Learning is linked to 'corporate memory', which must withstand staffing losses and changes, good accurate processes, records and information governance are essential
  • The distinction between passive learning (where lessons are identified but not put into practice) and active learning (where those lessons are embedded into an organisation's culture and practices) is crucial in understanding why truly effective learning so often fails to take place.
  • Learning organisations are characterised by 'chronic unease', for example, they actively seek out information even in areas that appear to be running smoothly.
  • Learning cultures can only happen if owners, directors and senior managers create, promote and embed that culture in all parts of the organisation – so it becomes your corporate identity.

If you have any questions about workforce culture or CQC Compliance, contact W&P Compliance Centre, experts in CQC Compliance and Health and Social Care Policies and Procedures.

Ben Erskine

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