Independent validation of infection control measures within care homes is being made available to the public for the first time in response to Covid-19 with the launch of the S.A.F.E scheme by social care experts, Autumna.
Standing for Symptom Assessment For Everyone, S.A.F.E. aims to give the elderly and their relatives third-party validated information as to the effectiveness of the infection control policies and procedures within a care home.
The industry first is the initiative of Autumna, which helps families find care through its free care advice line and the UK’s largest and most detailed directory of care services for the elderly, with some of the listed care providers already taking advantage of S.A.F.E.
“We know from the calls to the free Autumna advice line that the number one concern of those considering care at the moment is Covid-19 and whether mum will be safe. We also knew 60% of care homes hadn’t experienced any Covid-19 – but we didn’t know who the 60% were. Until now the elderly and their relatives have had no way of knowing how well the care providers they’re considering have responded to the crisis to enable them to make an informed decision about how safe mum or dad is likely to be – and the care homes had no way of evidencing their measures, other than through the own websites,” commented founder Debbie Harris.
Care homes displaying the S.A.F.E. icon on the Autumna website must have, in the first instance, uploaded their individual Care Quality Commission (CQC) Covid-19 Emergency Support Framework report onto the site. Plans are in place to extend the validation to include other third-party validated assessments of infection control measures, including certification of better staff training and the use of new technologies such as walk-through thermal scanners and remote digital patient monitoring equipment.
“The CQC launched its Emergency Support Framework on 1st May, but until now there has been no way for the public to know how the CQC has assessed the Covid-19 measures of individual care homes. By enabling care homes to upload their reports to the Autumna website, we are providing the transparency that families need to make care decisions with greater confidence,” explained Ms. Harris.
Sister companies, Runwood Homes and Sanders Senior Living, which have 23 care homes with a premium listing on Autumna, have been quick to take advantage of S.A.F.E.. “We know this is the number one priority for families at the moment. Being able to share our CQC report through the Autumna website gives us a platform to address any concerns and to demonstrate the measures we’ve introduced to best protect our residents from Covid-19,” commented Alyssa Kelleher, Digital Marketing and Communications Manager, Runwood Homes Senior Living.
The CQC Emergency Support Framework is based on the answers given by care providers to 15 questions. “It’s not a comprehensive assessment, by any means, but at the moment it’s the only guide we have available about infection control measures within care homes. That’s why Autumna is in discussions with a range of other sector specialists to provide wider ranging, robust validation to give the elderly and their relatives the information they need to compare the policies and procedures of different care providers,” added Ms. Harris.
S.A.F.E. does not mean that a care provider is Covis-19 free, but it does mean that the care provider is being transparent and proactive about their response to the coronavirus pandemic and how they manage infection control in their care setting.