Thank you for taking time out of what I know will be incredibly busy schedules to read Inside CQC again this month. With summer now having been and gone, I’m sure that you are busy preparing for the winter months and a second wave of COVID-19, as we are at the CQC.
It has been an incredibly challenging year so far and I am always inspired by the dedicated and compassionate staff working in adult social care across the country. Since the pandemic began, you have held together the sector by working tirelessly to keep people safe and this has not gone unnoticed.
At CQC, we have had to dramatically change the way we work and we have learnt a huge amount, including how we can use intelligence to better respond to risk and take on a more supportive role when it comes to working alongside providers. I want to take this opportunity to reflect on what we have done, update on what we are doing now, and talk about our future plans.
We began by developing the Emergency Support Framework (ESF), which gave us the structured framework we needed for our inspectors to have conversations with providers about staffing arrangements, safe care and treatment, protection from abuse, assurance processes, monitoring, and risk management. Since then, we have had conversations with thousands of providers and have used the information we gathered to inform our regulated activity, responding to risk and concerns where we have needed to in order to keep people safe.
As well as the ESF, we have developed an infection prevention and control (IPC) tool, which is being used as part of all of our inspections of care homes. Now more than ever IPC is at the forefront of our minds, so we have developed a set of questions and prompts for our inspectors to look at how well staff and people living in care homes are protected. The questions help us to gather information about the service’s strengths, so we can share that best practice with providers to deliver high standards across the eight ticks of IPC assurance and help us understand if there are any gaps or concerns about IPC. We will continue to use this tool throughout the winter.
Last month, we introduced our Transitional Regulatory Approach – a flexible, iterative approach which brings together the best of our existing methodologies with what we have learnt from our response to COVID-19. The key components of the Transitional Regulatory Approach include a strengthened approach to monitoring, using technology and local relationships to have better direct contact with people who use services, and more targeted inspection activity focused on where we have concerns. We have evolved the approach we developed through the Emergency Support Framework, but will also be developing our Transitional Regulatory Approach as the situation evolves.
Going forward, we are developing a new strategy to launch in May 2021, which will encompass all of our learning from COVID-19 as well as how we remain an effective regulator responding to the changing world of health and social care and driving improvement in the sector. There will be a formal consultation on our strategy starting in January 2021, but in the meantime you can read about it and share your thoughts on our initial plans on our digital engagement platform. I look forward to delving into our future strategy in more detail in a future column, but for now take care and stay safe.
Kate Terroni is Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission. Share your thoughts and feedback on Kate’s column by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.