The only thing constant in life is change. I’m sure like me, this is an expression you’ve been reminded of over the past year.
Last month the Government published its COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021, setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown for England. In this, there are further details on support for care home residents and staff, including updates to visiting guidance. Everyone will need to continue adapting and adjusting as circumstances change but I want to reassure you that we will support you through our regulated activity.
I know this year has had a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of colleagues. Marie Curie is holding a National Day of Reflection on 23rd March, the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown. This will be an emotional day, as we reflect on those we’ve lost, support those who have been bereaved and continue to do all that we can to keep people safe. If you feel you would benefit from some support with your mental health, The Care Workers’ Charity has launched its Mental Health Support Fund which enables care and support workers to have 10 hours of counselling with a trained professional.
I’ve talked to you before about our campaign Because We All Care. We continue to work closely with Healthwatch to call for feedback from people. This month we’re focusing on hearing from those with a learning disability and autistic people. Our research showed those with a learning disability and autistic people were more reluctant to give negative feedback on their care in case it increased pressures on services and staff. Please continue to encourage all service users to share feedback, good and bad. Last year just over 37,000 people shared their experiences of care with CQC through our Give Feedback on Care online form, a 29% increase on 2019. It’s all making a difference, with 54% of risk-based inspections triggered by information from the public.
We’re asking people to first raise concerns with the provider, but if they are unhappy about the matter not being resolved, then they should let us know. It’s more important than ever that there is a culture of clear, open, transparent and regular communications between care providers and the families of their residents. We highlighted this in our recent news story on the importance of visiting. We’re hearing from families who are concerned that some providers are applying blanket visiting bans. In each of these instances we will follow up with the provider and take any action as appropriate. Where decisions are being made, whether that is for visiting, people not being allowed to see visiting professionals, testing or vaccinations, the focus must always be on the individual needs and rights of the person. If you’re making a blanket decision, we’re asking you to review these and talk to the people in your service, their relatives, loved ones and your local inspector.
We must all ensure that comprehensive advanced care plans and support is delivered in a person-centred way. This is highlighted in our final report on our review into the application of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an issue we have already spoken out about earlier in the course of the pandemic in a joint statement with the British Medical Association, Care Provider Alliance and Royal College of General Practitioners. The final report sets out our findings and recommendations. I’ll talk about these recommendations more in future columns.
We paused the Adult Social Care Provider Information Return (PIR) for a year and in that time, we’ve been working on improving it. We piloted an updated version of the PIR in March. The PIR gathers important information not collected elsewhere which we use to support how we monitor the quality of care. We’ve listened to your concerns about provider burden and reduced the number of questions by a third across all areas. Alongside this, we continue to work with stakeholders across adult social care to develop our approaches to data collection and sharing. There is no link between the PIR request and our inspection schedules. We understand the challenges you’re facing at the moment and in the first month we’ll be testing our approach on a voluntary basis. We’ll be sending requests to locations not reporting COVID-19 outbreaks, but if you can’t make your submission – just let us know. We’ll use your feedback in the first month to make further improvements before launching fully in April.
In my last column I highlighted our strategy consultation. Thank you to everyone who took the time to attend an event, submit a response or comment on a post. Designing and implementing a new way of working takes time and we want to get it right. We’ll continue to engage with you as we begin to implement our strategy from May, so that we can make our strategy work for everyone.
Kate Terroni is Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission. Share your thoughts and feedback on Kate’s column in the comments section below.