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Caring Times Christmas Lunch 2021

09 Dec 2021

The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London

Mum’s the word

By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON

Back in 2013, Andrea Sutcliffe launched the hanky-moistening Mum Test (MT), encouraging people to benchmark service quality by drawing on personal feelings. It was not her finest hour. “I want us to consider for every service we look at – is this good enough for my Mum?” said Ms Sutcliffe in peak touchy-feely mode of a concept that is not just too twee to take seriously, but downright unprofessional. No matter how rigorous the supporting framework, parading subjectivity – arguably, providers’ major gripe about the inspection process – as a virtue is not a good idea.

Heaven knows what CQC inspectors make of it. And while we’re at it, do all of them hail from unimpeachably loving families? What about those whose relationships with immediate kin have been shredded by a dysfunctional upbringing, depriving them of a “loved one” reference point – at least, one that would encourage them to embrace the spirit of the MT rather than neutralise it with, at best, indifference?

“Good” as in rating is not a description of service quality; it is the label of a tier that, essentially, signifies compliance with fundamental standards – already an entitlement. That CQC can “celebrate” the success of the MT on the basis of this modest accomplishment suggests severely diminished aspirations. Would such mediocrity really be the summit of ambition for anyone with even a scintilla of tenderness for a loved one?

For those who dare to dream, the so-so performance represented by a “good” rating will never be “good enough”. Then again, if the MT bar were raised, the overwhelming majority of care homes – and CQC itself – would be branded as failures. Could that happen? You must be kidding. Regardless, why the need for second-hand opinion when first-hand testimony is available? Just crack on and ask the residents. This mawkish creation, heavily marketed as a game changer, is actually an irrelevance.

Andrea Sutcliffe, only begetter of the MT, has now left the building. Her successor, who has no personal investment in the project, can approach it with an open mind. Could she possibly see the wisdom of disposing of it – preferably, thinking of future generations – in an unmarked grave?

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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