Inside CQC: Kate Terroni

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) discusses the regulator’s next steps, including resuming some inspections.

Thank you for reading the Inside CQC column this month, where I will be updating you on our work since we last wrote to you. Debbie Ivanova, Deputy Chief Inspector, talked in the last column about the work we have done to look at the impact of COVID-19 on people with a learning disability. This month, I want to talk more about the impact COVID-19 has had on the way we work and how we’re continuing to adapt because of this.

Our Emergency Support Framework (ESF), which I spoke in detail about in the June edition of CMM, has now led to us having conversations with over 14,000 providers, most of which are doing an amazing job at reacting to the incredibly challenging situation. The feedback we have received on the ESF has been overwhelmingly positive, with providers appreciating the supportive approach we have taken to responding to COVID-19. In a small number of cases, where we have had concerns about the safety of a service, we have crossed the threshold, and we are now looking at entering more services in a safe and managed way.

When we weren’t entering services unless they were very high risk, it became more important than ever that people shared their feedback on the care they were receiving. In July, we launched the ‘Because we all care’ campaign, alongside Healthwatch England, to call on everyone to help shape health and social care by sharing their feedback. New research has shown that, since the outbreak of coronavirus, nearly two thirds of people would support the NHS and social care services by actively providing feedback on their care.

We hope that the campaign will help services address quality issues, shine a spotlight on best practice, and support people who use services by encouraging them to share feedback on their individual experiences.

We can gather a huge amount of meaningful information through people sharing their experiences with us, but there is always going to be information we can only get from crossing the threshold of services.

We will begin visiting more social care providers, based on previous quality ratings, whistleblowing, and other concerns, but we will continually review the way we are working with the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) has always formed part of our inspection framework, but we will now be looking at IPC on every visit to a service. We have also developed a new IPC inspection tool, with questions and prompts, which will be used on all upcoming inspections of care homes.

We also want to identify and share best practice with you on IPC and will be learning from a sample of 300 care homes where our data indicates that they have managed IPC well. The early findings of this will be shared in our September COVID-19 Insight report, with a more in-depth set of findings in November.

Throughout the pandemic, we have continued our work on closed cultures, and in June we released new guidance to support our inspection teams to continue to improve how we identify and respond to services that might be at risk of developing closed cultures. We worked with people who use services, Experts by Experience, families, local Healthwatch and stakeholders to produce this.

Since then, we have trained over 2,000 of our inspectors on how to identify a closed culture and have been setting up an Expert Advisory Group to help us with this work. If you would like to be kept up to date with the work via regular blogs and news stories, please email closedculturesengagement@cqc.org.uk to sign up to our mailing list.

At CQC we, along with all other organisations in health and social care, have learnt a huge amount from COVID-19, and we will be using this learning to continually inform the way we work going forward. We recently held a series of five webinars to talk about our strategy for 2021, which you can watch recordings of on our YouTube channel. In these webinars, we talked with providers about the themes of our 2021 strategy, which has been shaped by what we have learnt during the pandemic and will focus massively on CQC having a supportive relationship with providers and encouraging improvement. To get involved in shaping our future strategy, don’t forget to sign up to our digital participation platform.

Kate Terroni is Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission. Share your thoughts and feedback on Kate’s column below.

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