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Episode 17: Challenging The Senior Care Model in the UK with Simon Parker, SP&P and The Care Show Host – PART TWO

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“We need to understand the needs, wants, desires of the people that we’re looking after to make sure that they enjoy the best possible life experience. And that’s the purpose of why we get up in the morning.”

Simon Parker, Founder of SP&P and Founder/Host of The Care Home Show

And we’re all about challenging the status quo here at Maverick’s Headquarters! Welcome to the Challenging The Way We Age podcast by the Mavericks of Senior Living. We are two innovators and entrepreneurs who have huge hearts and passion for our older adults. And we see all kinds of opportunities to improve today’s system and create hope for the way we age. We tackle hard topics with the goal of creating conversation and generating curiosity and ingenuity to solve these problems.

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In Part Two, we were so excited to continue our conversation with Simon Parker, the Founder of SP&P and Founder/Host of The Care Home Show in the UK.

Watch, listen, or read below to:

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Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people, sources and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

Katherine:  Hey, Mavericks. Welcome back. This is Katherine, your Chief Inspiration Maverick, and Francis and I are talking with Simon Parker, the host of the Care Home Show in the UK. It’s a wonderful podcast. I invite you to check it out. This is Part Two of our podcast with Simon. So let’s dive in. We really got into some of the deeper challenges that they are experiencing in the UK. Enjoy the show.

What Are Some Of The Biggest Aging-Related Challenges You’re Facing In the UK?

Francis:  What are the what’s the biggest challenges you’re facing right now? We have staffing issues in the States as one of our big issues. I’m assuming you have the same workforce crisis as well. But what else is out there that’s a challenge for you?

Recruitment And Retention Aren’t The Problem

Simon:  I’ll touch upon the recruitment and retention side of things, because I think that’s really, really important. Largely as a sector, if you ask community, they’d say that one of their biggest challenges is recruitment or retention. And it’s very widely documented in the mainstream media, and then also in the sector media as well. Now, I agree very much that this is the problem, but this isn’t the cause of the problem.

I’m very much of the opinion that if you’re going to try and fix a problem, you need to fix the cause of the problem, because if you don’t, then the is just not going to go away. It’s going to keep on rearing its ugly head. So it’s my opinion that nationally we have a cultural issue and that’s around how we perceive the care sector. This is often compounded by the mainstream media creating sensationalized headlines around what goes on in our homes. That’s not to understate the fact that some terrible things do happen in our homes, but it’s absolutely the in the minority. And you can’t understate the fact that we can’t let those types of things happen and that we must learn from those experiences and strive to make sure that they’re that they’re completely eradicated to the best extent that we that we can do.

But largely it’s a great sector and people do genuinely, genuinely care. So having the main mainstream media lambast or tar everyone with the same brush and alter the public perception, I think is really, really negative. And I think that makes people more and more conscious about entering in because they think it’s just going to be bandit country, quite frankly. So that’s bad.

It’s Our Cultures That Need To Change: Enabling Great Things To Happen In This Care Sector

And then I think culturally we have a challenge around the actual care homes themselves. Homes need to have a culture where they’re empowering their team and providing their team with purpose so they know the direction of travel that the organization’s going in, and that they’ve got an operating system for their people. So they know how to show up on a day to day basis. And I think that’s it.

In my humble opinion, I think that building a high-performance culture is the most undervalued opportunity for businesses as a whole. Everywhere. And definitely for the care sector! Now, in the in the UK and in England, rather, part of the CQC inspection focuses on culture. It talks about the vision of the organization. It talks about the values. It talks about the behaviors of the team. Not least because it’s a massive business opportunity, but because it will enable you. It will indeed enable great things to happen within your organization.

Actually, you know that the regulator focuses on this heavily. And you’re never going to get a great CQC inspection, whether that be good or outstanding, if you’re not focusing on building a high performance culture within the organization. So that’s a bit of one of my soapbox subjects. I could probably sit and talk about this all day, quite frequently do. But that’s the recruitment and retention issue. That’s the problem that people talk about.

I think the conversation that we need to be having is culturally. Again, that’s as a nation. And then culturally within these organizations, what can we do to shift that perception so that we have a more positive outlook on supporting older people and people living with dementia? And that comes back to the title of your podcast quite nicely. Challenging the way that we age.

Katherine:  Very much so. And we’re actually interviewing in a couple of weeks here some folks who have started a movement called Changing the Narrative. It started here in Colorado. And it’s all about changing the way we talk about older people. So really not using the word senior or elder. Things like that. But really, they’ve already had international exposure with it. And it was a small group that started here in Colorado.

Francis:  And then we’re also going to be diving into The Eden Alternative as well. Have you heard of that? It’s a pretty big movement that’s been going on for a while, started by Dr. Bill Thomas. And something along that same idea of this idea of culture disruption of the status quo.

Simon:  Yeah, definitely wondering about it. Maybe there’s another organization in the UK that’s called Eden or maybe it’s the same one, but yeah.

Katherine:  There is a book that will also put in the show, notes that was written by the CEO of the Eden Alternative. The current CEO, her name is Jill Vitale-Aussem. What an amazing name, right? And the book is about breaking the status quo. I really encourage all of our listeners to read it because I think it is really, really valuable.

Simon:  I’m a big fan of that. It’s one of the points that Francis and I connected on when we originally spoke. One of our values as an organization is to be disruptive and that that’s not being disruptive for disruption’s sake. That’s challenging the status quo. That’s asking the big questions. That’s looking for opportunities to be able to go and improve. So, yeah, that sounds like my kind of book.

Creating A World Where Older Adults Have Choice, Fulfillment and Purpose

Francis:  What do you want to challenge for the others?

Simon:  That’s I think that’s really, really important question for all of us to ask. And thank you for asking me. I think the biggest thing really is choice. I want all the people and people living with dementia to be able to live their lives in the most fulfilling way that it’s possible wherever they are in their life’s journey. Because I mentioned this earlier, but people spend their entire life going around kind of making choices around what they want to do, how they want to spend their time. Why should that not be the case just because they’re later on in their life? So if there’s one single thing that I could do, if there’s one single thing that I could I could change, it would be to try and create a world where people, older people and people living with dementia, are in a world of choice and fulfillment and purpose.

What Can Americans and the British Learn From Each Other?

Katherine:  I’d love that. I’d say, yes, that’s the world that you see that you’re working to create right now. I absolutely love that. So what do you think? What do you think the Americans and the British can learn from each other here?

Simon:  OK. So firstly, I there’s a part of me that kind of almost doesn’t know where to start with this, because it’s a big, big and expansive question.

I think just before I go into that, I think one of the things I’m really happy about is the fact that we plan to do a series together, the fact that we can we can put our heads together in kind of hopefully a relatively frequent basis just to continue this conversation so that we can we can start really understanding each other’s respective market so that we can find out what those big opportunities to learn are going to be.

I think really for me, it’s around best practice because there’s going to be incredible things that you guys are going to be doing that we wouldn’t have even thought about. And vice versa. I think this is a conversation that we need to continue having. I think we need to be able to make sure that we create an environment for effective discourse between us so that we can look at the opportunities, because that’s what we’re looking at here, isn’t it? It’s opportunities to learn.

Creating An Ongoing Cycle Of Improvement

One of the big things that I talk about is creating an ongoing cycle of improvement. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, you just need to be keep continuing to push for improvements like a continuous cycle. I have had a number of people say to me, well, Simon, why would I want to go for an Outstanding CRC inspection? There’s only one way from there and it’s down.

Maybe it’s a bit of a poisoned chalice. And it’s going to be hard to be able to maintain that. What you need to be looking for are those constant opportunities to be able to achieve – because it’s not okay to become complacent. So yes, if you achieve Outstanding that has a certain amount of definition in it’s finite to where you can achieve that. That doesn’t mean that the quality of your CQC has to stagnate and to flatten off, that just means that you’ve achieved what the regulator expects. Let’s go five, 10, 20 percent over and above what the regulator expects then. That’s why you’re always going to get an Outstanding CQC inspection and you’re going to continue improving the lives of the people that you’re working with, not just the residents of the home, but then also the people, the team that you’re working with as well, because it’s so much more exciting working for an Outstanding organization than one that’s just Good.

“There is a big difference between Good and Outstanding.”

Simon Parker, Founder of SP&P and Founder/Host of The Care Home Show

I don’t want to underplay Good, but there’s a big difference between Good and Outstanding.

Francis:  That makes something that makes a lot of sense, and I think, too, yes, it’s hard to keep your outstanding rating. Why strive for that middle of the road when our seniors deserve more? Our seniors deserve us pushing ourselves, challenging ourselves to just do things better or improve constantly.

Why strive for that middle of the road when our seniors deserve more? Our seniors deserve us pushing ourselves, challenging ourselves to just do things better or improve constantly.

Francis LeGasse, Chief Curiosity Maverick & CEO of Assured Assisted Living, Sevens Home Care and Sevens Memory Care

Every day we need to be figuring out what can I challenge as a person to make myself better and then also my organization better. That’s what we have to begin to do. I think we’re too complacent in the States. I feel like we are too complacent with our care model.

Katherine:  I think we’re a little afraid of pushing the envelope too much.

Simon:  If cumulatively we can help raise the dial just a little bit, then any improvement is going to be good improvement, isn’t it? And if we can do that on a global basis, which is crazy exciting, just the fact that we’re having a international podcast again, hopefully this is going be the first of many.

Katherine:  So if you were to give one piece of advice to someone looking to make a positive impact on older people, what would that be?

“I think the biggest superpower that any human can have is getting to know themselves. I believe that once you understand yourself and it enables you to be more capable of understanding the world around you. I think once you understand the world around you better, you can look for other people who have a similar world view to you. And I think once you’re able to surround yourself with other people who have a similar view, then you can start to move mountains.”

Simon Parker, Founder of SP&P and Founder/Host of The Care Home Show

Simon:  This is a great question. I think the biggest superpower that any human can have is getting to know themselves. I believe that once you understand yourself and it enables you to be more capable of understanding the world around you. I think once you understand the world around you better, you can look for other people who have a similar world view to you. And I think once you’re able to surround yourself with other people who have a similar view, then you can start to move mountains. So being able to work with other like-minded people where you’ve got a shared cause, a clear vision and people who have similar values to you, that’s well, that’s what’s going make a difference in the world.

Francis:  Whether that be care, whether that be anything else that you’re interested in and looking at it in that perspective is fantastic because you’re building the team around you essentially that’s going to help you channel and tackle that challenge and move that mountain. And I think especially in America, we try to do some things too often by ourselves, maybe a little too much.

Then we bring that team in after we’re either burned out or after we’re tired or after we’re almost at our breaking point. And then at that point, you realize when you surround yourself with the right people, things can happen, and happen quickly.

I’ll use Kathy and I as an example. We came up with this podcast back in July and now we’re in October and what we’ve already done 20 episodes and Facebook Live interviews.

So you find that right connection that you really gel with, you can move the mountain and make huge positive impact.

Simon:  It’s something that I think the more people that are cognizant of that — and that’s a journey, right? It’s not like it. That’s not a finite thing. We evolve as human beings. It should be a kind of a constant journey of exploration for us, for us all, so that we can keep pushing to improve whatever our purpose or mission is going to be for ourselves and for the people that we choose to be with.

What Is The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Been Given Personally?

Katherine:  And one of the things I appreciate about that is you started with, you need to know yourself and understand who you are and what your skills are, where you shine and not try to be all things, but to really understand your motives, because that’s where you can make the biggest difference. So what’s the best piece of advice you have been given personally?

Simon:  Okay, so I’m genuinely blessed in the fact that I had an opportunity to spend some time with some very inspirational people. Some great mentors and people who had a really positive influence on me. Because of that I can’t actually answer that with one single question or one single piece of advice. So I’ll give you my top three. And there’s probably a load of other ones that we could that we can talk about with my top three.

First, my dad my dad taught me that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Anyone that knows me, that will know that I’m the most probably tenacious and pedantic person when it comes to getting things done and making things happen, probably annoyingly so for some people. But that’s pretty well deep rooted in me today.

Second, my mom taught me how to be stoic and how to deal with a difficult situation. So, keeping a level head when things are tough. Well, life’s hard. The people that get ahead in life are the people that take ownership for themselves and what’s going on around them. And I think that that requires a certain level of stoicism.

Lastly, my primary school teacher, Mrs. How, told me that there was there was no such word as can’t. And that stuck with me forever. You probably can’t see from here, but I get goose bumps when I think about those things. It’s something that’s built like the fabric of who I am as a person.

Katherine:  Those are fantastic, and your mom and your dad instilled some really great values in you and so did Mrs. How!

Simon:  Mrs. How is a fantastic human being.

Katherine:  And boy, you don’t ask, you don’t get–  that is really important. And I think that’s part of it. That’s a quality that you need to have if you’re really out to change the world. And that’s what the three of us and many more are out to do.

Francis:  And I think, too, it’s a great statement for our seniors. It is letting them challenge where they currently are. They don’t have to accept the status quo. We need more input from them, challenging us as operators, owners, providers, whatever facet we are in aging services. We need them to ask us so that they get what they want.

It comes back to that choice thing, doesn’t it?

Simon:  Exactly. I did an episode recently with a lady called Caroline Baker, who’s a leading authority in dementia care in the UK. She works for one of the one of the best bigger providers in the UK. And of her area of expertise, we did an episode on largely on dementia care with my colleague, a lady called Sue Goldsmith, who’s our in-house dementia care expert.

“What we need to do is to spend more time listening to the dementia care experts. That’s not the people who have spent loads of time in the care homes. It’s people living with dementia themselves.

Simon Parker, Founder of SP&P and Founder/Host of The Care Home Show, quoting Caroline Baker, a leading authority in dementia care in the UK

So those guys used to work together in a previous life. And one of the things that Caroline said to me is what we need to do is to spend more time listening to the dementia care experts. That’s not the people who have spent loads of time in the care homes. It’s people living with dementia themselves.

“We need to understand the needs, wants, desires of the people that we’re looking after to make sure that they enjoy the best possible life experience. And that’s the purpose of why we get up in the morning.”

Simon Parker, Founder of SP&P and Founder/Host of The Care Home Show

I think that was quite profound. I think for somebody to say that on the podcast, I’ve heard Caroline say it before, but I had people messaging me after. That really impacted my mind, my thinking. That’s a real good example of trying to create an environment, I guess, of where it’s okay for you to ask. And for you to get. Because, you know, we need to understand the needs, wants, desires of the people that we’re looking after to make sure that they enjoy the best possible life experience. And that’s the purpose of why we get up in the morning.

Katherine:  Yeah, absolutely. And that really just flips thinking on its head, which is what we’re all about.

Simon:  We obviously could keep talking for probably hours, if not days.

Francis:  Well, obviously, we have to continue this conversation. Really figure out what this challenge and movement envision could be for us globally to have that these conversations. And so how can people connect with you, Simon?

Simon:  LinkedIn. If you search Simon Parker, that’s where I share most of my content. I’m quite active on that. I’m not particularly big on the on the other social channels just because I tend to go all in on things. And then https://www.spandp.co.uk/. That’s our company website. If you’re interested to find out more about what we do as an organization.

Katherine:  Simon, such a pleasure to meet you. So excited for where we go from here together.

Simon:  Pleasure’s all mine, guys, honestly. This is a conversation that we’re at the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, what we’ve what we’ve found here is we found an opportunity for us to work together in collaboration to achieve our kind of accumulative innovation. And I think that’s really, really powerful. So I’m super, super excited for this to be the beginning of the journey.

Announcer: Thanks for listening. The Mavericks want to hear from you. Leave us your comments, questions and ideas for future podcasts.

Mavericks of Senior Living is sponsored by Serenity App, Inc. and Assured Assisted Living. This episode was produced by Katherine Wells and Francis LeGasse.   You can subscribe to Mavericks for Senior Living on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher. You can also find us on TwitterFacebook, or via email at challenges@mavericksofseniorliving.

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