Helen Fuller, Managing Director at Care 4 Quality
In March 2020 care homes in the England closed their doors to all but essential visitors as the country entered an unprecedented ‘lockdown’ due to the Covid 19 pandemic sweeping the globe. This in turn led to a reduction in the physical visits to care services whether they be from local authority, the regulator CQC, domiciliary healthcare and therapeutic visits and in some cases even the owners themselves. This article will explore how care services have demonstrated resilience and are evolving in the ‘New Normal’ as they work to remain compliant with their regulatory responsibilities.
Services have managed to maintain oversight and self-audit in a variety of ways, often using technology to keep in contact with health and social care professionals. Local Authorities have provided virtual assessments for care services to carry out contractual checks. CQC embarked on telephone contact with every service as part of their emergency support framework that was rolled out across CQC regulated services. CQC continued to gather, evaluate and respond to events within care services, and in some circumstances were able to visit sites if there were not concerns relating to the safety and wellbeing of individuals.
CQC are now physically inspecting services, but these inspections are being delivered in a measured way while focussing greatly on the ‘Safe’ and ‘Well-Led’ domains.
As we enter a potential new phase of lockdown, we can learn from what worked well during the first lockdown and help services to maintain regulatory compliance.
How did care services maintain regulatory compliance?
- Services maximising the potential of their team for ‘self-audit’
- Utilising various resources from Local Authorities, CQC and compliance consultancies to ensure risks within the services continued to be identified, assessed, and mitigated
- Building strengthening connections with other care services and care professionals in geographical areas
- Using the lockdown time to evaluate services, to review policies and to make a start on all of the long term ‘to do’ jobs to be completed
- Providers became more involved in the day to day operations of their services
- Utilising the services of External Consultancies to carry out remote audits (normally often carried out on site) for areas such as core risk reviews, care planning audits and provider/manager support sessions
Many of the mechanisms adopted during this time will help care service to maintain regulatory compliance in the ‘new normal’ while continuing to move forward. The increased use of technology to facilitate gathering external views of compliance are the way forward. CQC and Local Authorities have adopted a virtual approach to assessing the quality of a service, and likewise providers of care services have had to adapt their governance processes accordingly.
It is therefore more important than ever to be able to share information in a cohesive way and in a manner that protects the data safely.
Ever resilient care managers and providers have strengthened their attitude of ‘self-auditing’ and have further broadened their auditing skills utilising imaginative ways to demonstrate the continued compliance of the care service.
About Care 4 Quality
Care 4 Quality is a health a social care specialist, dedicated to delivering ethically-led, compliance support and advice within the care environment to care providers across the UK. Offering a range of tailored services within the care setting, Care 4 Quality works in partnership with individual care homes and care home groups, to provide a personalised, quality monitoring service to help providers achieve compliance and generate robust evidence for the CQC, supporting the fundamental standards, thus preventing warning notices and enforcement action. Services include carrying out mock inspections to planned/unplanned compliance audits, quality assurance surveys, medication audits, crisis management coaching and supporting homes with CQC action planning and local authority liaison related to non-compliance issues.