Philippa Shirtcliffe is Head of Care Quality at Quality Compliance Systems
Care providers excel in infection prevention and control. Governments aren’t always able to follow suit. Take government guidance issued earlier this year. Until March, 13th, when it was withdrawn, it stated that it was very unlikely that people living in care homes wouldn’t be infected with Covid-19. They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing, indeed, it is, but William Blake’s assessment that “foresight is always better” feels much more apt. The government was wrong on this. Figures reveal that several thousand care home residents have died in care homes after contracting Covid-19.
But I don’t wish to use this piece to remind this government of its poor performance. I’ll leave that to others. Instead, I want to return to my opening statement, which centres on the world-class achievements of Registered Managers and front line carers to implement robust and effective infection prevention and control procedures in unprecedented and extremely difficult circumstances.
I use the phrase ‘extremely difficult circumstances’ because as any care worker knows, the guidance provided by PHE, which is being disbanded, and other guidance was confusing, complex and sometimes contradictory. Take guidance around PPE for example. Local and national guidance were at odds with each for several weeks, which didn’t help care workers.
As a result, very early on in the Pandemic, Quality Compliance System’s Care Quality team, which I head, was inundated with calls. Care Providers wanted answers. They wanted to know that they were following the correct procedures to safeguard those they were caring for. The problem was that many felt that they were drowning in overly-complex guidance and therefore were unable to see the wood for the trees.
QCS reacted by creating a Coronavirus Hub, which remains free to access. Many reading this piece will have already accessed it and benefited from it, but for anyone that hasn’t, the Coronavirus hub functions on two levels. Firstly, our team of content writers have broken down convoluted guidance and presented it in the form of digestible factsheets, templates, checklists and blogs which can be easily implemented. Secondly, the hub acts as a best practice resource centre, which sheds light on what evidence-based best practice looks like across several key infection prevention and control areas, and how to implement it.
With the CQC set to resume inspections this autumn, perhaps this is best illustrated in the new spirit of collaboration embraced by many to fight Covid-19. In response to the CQC’s decision to published enhanced infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance last month, QCS has teamed up with the National Care Association and Standards Wise International to create a leading-edge audit tool that supports organisations to assess their own IPC practices and prepare evidence for audit – which not only meets CQC requirements – but also conforms to international standards.
The guidance, which is structured around the CQC’s eight prompts and questions, enables care providers to identify areas of improvement and rectify them using bespoke ICP policies and procedures crafted and curated by QCS.
While there have been very few positives in this Pandemic, we think that the current landscape has presented stakeholders of many different stripes with a unique opportunity to work more closely together and to produce an even higher standard of compliance and content around ICP.
That represents real progress.