Time for me to dis-connect from social media

Social Media is a great place and it has brought me so much joy, amazing work and personal contacts as well as some wonderful places to experience, eat at and visit over time. However, the flip side to this has been various battles in my head (my own extreme anxieties) following accessing and interacting on the various platforms.

The Minimalists say “There is more joy and fulfillment in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more” so it is with that concept that I have made the personal decision to temporarily leave and dis-connect from all forms of social media for a period of time.

How long? I am not sure. Will I return to them? Again I am not sure. What I am sure of is this; in order for me to continue my happiness journey in both my personal and work life, alongside my positive mental well-being path, I need to dis-connect for a while.

So farewell for now dear reader…….Til next time wherever and whenever that might be, take care and remember:

“With hope and belief there are no limitations”



When do you take time off?

Right here goes, now I’m back blogging here is the first in a series of blogs based around questions or areas that keep popping up since I left full-time employment 7 years ago and set out on the path of sole trader/business owner.

When do you take time off?

I like most, I guess, read the “How to do well in business” help books and listened to all those business men and women I admired who said things like “You never get anywhere without putting the hours in” – both overwhelmingly pointing in the direction of success being acheived through 24/7 dedication to your business goals.

But where does that leave time for yourself…………

So there I was 7 years ago loads of ideas, goals and a fledging business to run and I was led by those directions above I threw myself wholeheartedly 24/7 into my business. At first 24/7 was fine, enthusiasm and andrenilin (when was the next invoice payment coming in) got me through the first 6 months and at the time I thought the next 6 months, but in honest hindsight the cracks where already starting the show.

End of year 1 – So are you going to take some time off now………

We got to end of year 1 almost at break even – A SUCCESS – but that just made me push harder for the next goal a profit and I returned in Year 2 to working and being the business 24/7.

Year 2 – Seriously now you need to take some time off you’re not going to be well………

Year 2 came and went buoyed by a new focus with the business quality assurance and governance for all social care services alongside a wider client base – the length and breadth of the country (lots more travelling and hotel stop overs included now) – but still with the direction ringing in my head – you have to put the work in to be a success.

Year 3 – Will you just pack it in and take some time away from the business………

The stream of statements above come from both my subconscious and I have to say my wonderful wife Helen. However it wasn’t until Year 3 that I actually started to listen….

I took time away from the business – again in the interests of honestly not a total blanket stop I still looked at emails (less often) and made no visits on those periods. And the statements changed.

Year 4,5,6 – Now don’t you feel better and more productive 😀…….

Plain and not so simple answer was Yes and No. Yes I felt better in myself for having a break but no in some ways as I still thought what have I missed whilst taking a break.

Year 4,5,6 – What about trying mindfulness to understand the purpose of taking a break………

So I did and after much thought I came to the realisation it’s wasn’t about being away from work it’s about looking after my own wellbeing.

Year 6 – was that not why you left the full-time LA job to have more personal quality mental, physical wellbeing and spend more time with the family……..

Yes, yes it was!!! how had it taken me 6 years to go back to the original purpose and main priority achievement of leaving to set up on my own, not sure, but I am here now. It’s never been about the money (although that’s good don’t get me wrong) it’s about taking care of me! As when I’m good, life is great, work is awesome and I am able to be the best that I can be in that moment👍

Year 7 – let me ask you again then “When do you take time off?”………..

I listen to my body and brain and it lets me know when it’s time to take a break.

This year we are trying the old school term method of scheduling a break every 6 weeks so I go no longer with work – this is my limit before it affects my mental wellbeing.

Now more than ever I speak to close friends and business associates that I can see doing similar things that I did in the start, so I say to everyone

Sit down, take time out and set your own boundaries of working versus time off based on the purpose of what your top priority achievement is. In doing so I’m sure you’ll benefit in all areas of “work, rest and play” (Mars bar for those old enough to remember 😃)

Thank you for reading and rememberwith hope and belief there are no limitations”

Till next time, Stephen

A Year, Really! The fear of continuing with a blog

Wow a year really! I have just reengaged with my blog site for the 1st time in a while to find that is over 12 months since I last posted – SHOCKING!

A lot has happened over that year and I would like to say it was due to being far to busy to contemplate posting a new blog every week or month that I haven’t been here typing away since, however honestly that would be a lie.

So why no posts? I ask myself – laziness; out of the habit; nothing good to write about; busy; all fair enough reasons but if I’m being truly honest the main reason for not posting is based in my own fears.

Fear of failure, fear of negative comments, fear of people reading and saying this guy doesn’t know what he is talking about and telling the world exactly that – all in the cold light of day really just reasons in my own head not to continue writing and affirming that decision to myself – not good!

Thankfully I had the opportunity to attend the #TEDxManchester event this past weekend and with over 2000 eager Tedsters listened intently to various speakers talk about various issues, experiences and thoughts…..

Aside as soon as it is live on  TEDxManchester site I suggest you take a look it was an inspiring day 🙂

…..and it is with this that I come back to this blog site with renewed enthusiasm 🙂 What I took away from the day was watching these ordinary people get up on stage and talk openly and honestly about their thoughts and experiences.

“Openly and honestly” that struck a chord with me as I thought you know what it doesn’t matter what others think about the posts, obviously great if positive but you know what also great if negative so long as it has sparked open discussion on topics raised.

So dear reader I am here today to say that my blog is up and running again however this time with its main aim slightly changed. I have often been asked “you’ve done alright for yourself in business”…”whats the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out?” – I have even tried to answer that in previous blog posts. Now with several more years under my belt the best piece of advice I can give is this……You will never get it right all of the time and you know what that is alright, accept it, learn from it and carry on, because if you passion and principles are in it for the right reasons then it will always come through in the end!

So with that I will sign off for now, no fear blogs are coming, in fact I will start to write a new serious of blogs called “The honest picture from a social care conversationalist” to include the good things that happen and maybe some of the bad things that happen along the way.

Thank you for reading and remember “With hope and belief there are no limitations”


Calling all Social Care Providers

Valued Care Solutions has new and improved quality assurance and governance services available for all providers of care and supports across the Social Care market in 2017.

Following an in-depth look into the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) ambitious vision Shaping the future: CQC’s strategy for 2016 to 2021’, and understanding through experience the position of many providers of Social Care, I have set about developing a quality assurance programme and governance system. This programme and system is developed in order for you as a provider in the Social Care market to accurately and positively record, document and highlight quality within the services you provide, in a way that can integrate into your annual business planning, and be given straight to a regulating professional when needed.

Within ‘Priority 3 Promote a single shared view of quality’ the CQC have indicated that they will be looking for providers of service to develop their own quality assurance systems in order to show their quality in compliance with the regulation standards:

“We will encourage providers to develop their own quality assurance based on the five key questions and to share this with us as part of an ongoing conversation about quality”

This is where VCS can support you and your organisation. Whether you are a residential or nursing home, community or domiciliary service, day service, ambulance service or any type of CQC registered provider, I have several different ranges of quality assurance systems and guidance available. These include, but are not limited to:

Monthly Visits – A visit made to site to meet with management and assess whether the service meets each of CQC’s 13 ‘Fundamental Standards’ of quality within the regulations. One standard looked at each month.

Quarter or Half Yearly Visits – A site visit every 3 or 6 months to complete a comprehensive audit of overall delivery of service, shaped by the ‘Five Key Questions’

Annual Visit – A site visit once a year to complete a whole home audit similar to a mock inspection to ensure that quality assurance systems and practices in place are compliant with regulation standards.

What I can offer to you and your organisation is a personally tailored quality assurance programme that will complement your existing internal systems whilst ensuring continuous improvement to meet regulation compliance at all times.

Please feel free to get in touch for a no obligation meet-up or chat about your organisation’s requirements.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Stephen Briscoe ACMI

Contact – Details via website


2016 A Year in Review

As a thank you to myself and to ensure that 2017 gets off to the running start 2016 did I gave myself the opportunity to take a couple of weeks off during the Christmas and New Year period to enjoy quality family time and completely switch off from my world of Valued Care Solutions.

As a result this blog post on ‘2016 A Year in Review’ is being written on my official return to working 03/01/2017 – “better late than never” as the saying goes.

So what can I say about 2016 for Valued Care Solutions and myself well the first thing I can say is a huge “THANK YOU”

THANK YOU to all my clients who have trusted me to support them in their own businesses to start out in the business world, to grow their quality service provisions and to review their services in a manner that not only meets regulations and requirements but also looks at the impact on the individual receiving the service – THANK YOU ALL! here’s to an amazing 2017 together.

THANK YOU also has to go to my amazing wife and children, without them VCS would not be possible. They give me the strength, support and positivity, alongside the laughter and smiles to always make me see that what I and VCS do, adds real value to all across the health and social care sector – THANK YOU I am truly blessed and you are amazing 🙂

So to the ‘2016 A Year in Review’ in detail. I could go on and on with different elements that where achieved over last year however that may run into a very long post that not everyone would want to read so I will keep it brief and pick out my Top 3 achievements of 2016 in a ‘Tops of the Pops’ style – you can hear the music in the background now can’t you 🙂

A New Entry at Number 3 – Challenging a CQC report on a client’s home that was totally factually incorrect and made the home drop into ‘Requires Improvement’. After working with the home for a number of months previous to the CQC regulation visit I knew that the home, although not perfect, was of a very good standard and met all the standard requirements set out by the CQC. So it was with some distress that I was contacted by the homes owner who told me they had been given ‘Requires Improvement’ and had breached in one area. After reading the report it was clear that the information contained in the report was not accurate and indeed the information discussed was not directly relating to any resident that the home supported. Long story short I was able to work with the home to clearly set out reasons for challenging the report on grounds of inaccuracy which where upheld and changed by CQC prior to being in the public domain whereby the home was given a Green ‘GOOD’ overall rating – Excellent achievement all round!

A Non-Mover at Number 2 – My continued support of the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends initiative across the country. I am a designated Dementia Friends Champion and as a result I was able to deliver as a volunteer to 35 new people the Dementia Friends sessions that have made them part of our Dementia Friends community – One of my favourite achievements of 2016

2017 – I am looking to continue this volunteer service throughout the year so any people or businesses reading this post and interested in having a session (its free of charge, only takes an hour, hour and half max – maybe just throw in some refreshments for people) then please get in touch I would love to deliver the session for you and make as many Dementia Friends as we can 🙂

And straight in at Number 1 – My 2 nominations for FSB Merseyside and Cheshire Awards for Valued Care Solutions. VCS was shortlisted for 2 awards on the night however although no winning accolade was forthcoming this is, in the 5 years of business, my 1st nomination for an award in business and as a result in recognition of VCS – This is my most proudest of achievements in 2016

So to 2017 may it hold the same positivity and achievements to rival 2016 and lets make it even better!!!

I wish you all the very best for the year ahead. I hope it fulfils all your widest expectations and for those who may hit a bump in the road, I send you the support, strength and guidance to overcome any challenge that steps in your way.

Let’s do this people. Thank you for reading and remember “With hope and belief there are no limitations” – Till next time, Stephen

Compassionate Care?

Today I was posed this question for an answer…….

“What is compassionate care?”

The person in question themselves had been asked this question by someone looking at their service supports and was taken aback to find themselves struggling for an immediate answer.

At first I too somewhat chuckled at the request thinking how long have you got for me to answer that one and then I looked again at the person who had posed the question.

Again I was asked with a slight smile this time…….

“What is compassionate care? I’d like to know your take in less than 2 sentences”

Wow in less than 2 sentences you say 🙂 – anybody that knows me will attest to 2 sentences being a slight issue to a conversationalist like myself.

So this time I stopped, concentrated on the question at hand and responded as follows……

“Compassionate care to me is fully respecting another person to see them as an individual and not as a practice or a condition. In doing this I feel it leads to care that is compassionate and reflects the unique individual’s needs to having positive well-being.”

Wow again that was hard I followed it up with, I can see where you found it difficult to immediately respond…..

So that dear reader is my question to you in view of this post. In as short a way as possible let me know:

“To you, what is compassionate care?”

I look forward to reading your comments and feel free to contact to discuss these thoughts more,

Take care and remember “With hope and belief there are no limitations”



What is a Quality, ‘Quality Assurance’ for Care Providers?

The CQC recently launched its new five year vision “Shaping the future CQC’s strategy for 2016 to 2021” which sets out the main priorities and objectives into how “…an ambitious vision for a more targeted, responsive and collaborative approach to regulation, so more people get high-quality care” can be achieved.

Now as a care provider or someone involved in the care sector reading this, I strongly recommend grabbing a brew and taking the time to read through carefully. CQC’s aims set out in this strategy cover many valuable points for consideration in order for you to attain a quality level of delivery compliant with regulation requirements.

However for the focus of this post I would like to concentrate on one area and key detail that was noted in reading this document.

Within “Priority 3 – Promote a single shared view of quality” CQC have detailed the following:

“We will encourage providers to develop their own quality assurance based on the five key questions and to share this with us as part of an ongoing conversation about quality.”

This detail effectively gives you as a provider the empowerment to create and develop a tailored quality assurance system that can clearly identify and evidence how your service meets and achieves those requirements of the five key question areas.

In addition this encouragement provides a service the opportunity not only to develop a quality assurance system that meets the regulatory requirements but also affords the service.

So in answer to my posts original question: What is a Quality, ‘Quality Assurance’ for Care Providers?

My answer is: Providers need to have a quality assurance system that not only achieves compliance with statutory regulatory bodies but also links to and highlights directly, visible evidence of how the system supports and has supported, quality outcomes and improvements in health and well-being for the people receiving and the staff delivering your supports.

Now as a business adviser in this area I have to comment there are several ‘Quality Assurance’ systems available currently on the market, all of which I am sure you will be able to find via a reputable internet search engine.

However one of my main principles in establishing Valued Care Solutions was to be a supportive beacon to care providers across the sector. A positive support to those providers who, acknowledging their responsibilities in achieving requirements from regulatory bodies, were left with a feeling of who or where do we turn to in the support of focused guidance.

As a result of the above Valued Care Solutions has various schedules of quality assurance that can be utilised and further developed to ensure your service is reaching and achieving these highlighted requirements whilst also receiving *Outstanding* acknowledgement in this area of quality service delivery.

Please feel free to contact to further discuss quality assurance and its requirements alongside how Valued Care Solutions can work with your service to bespoke a schedule to positively highlight your delivery of support services.

Contact for a no obligation chat – Link to contact

Thank you for taking the time to read,

Stephen Briscoe Valued Care Solutions