Inside CQC: Kate Terroni

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, explores the relationship between innovation and regulation, and what CQC is doing to support this.

In my first column for Care Management Matters, I spoke about my background in social care and my key priorities as Chief Inspector at CQC – hearing the voice of people who receive care across our business; delivering joined-up care as providers and regulators; and innovation.

In this column I want to focus on innovation. Christine Asbury, Chief Executive of WCS Care recently talked about the need to define innovation and she shared the definition she uses,

‘Creativity is the making and communicating of meaningful new connections and ideas. Innovation is the application of these insights. In order to meet the innovation challenge, leaders must be able to manage for both creativity and innovation.’ (Isaksen 2017)

A number of providers have been working with CQC as we think more about the role of the regulator in innovation – the challenge is that real innovation often operates outside known boundaries and is therefore complex to regulate.

Innovation is much broader than technology, which is often what comes to mind when we think about innovative practice. It’s about new and different ways of recruiting and retaining our workforce; it can be new models of care delivery, with providers collaborating across health and social care to provide more seamless, joined-up care for the people they support.

Innovation in adult social care is about promoting the trial and error of new ideas in collaboration with people who use services, ensuring that they remain safe and that when an idea works, we find a way to share that best practice locally and nationally.

However, technology provides lots of opportunities to innovate and it is a topic that comes up time and time again when I speak to key stakeholders, so I want to use this column to talk to you in more detail about how we view innovation and technology at CQC.

In June, we published the latest resource in our Driving Improvement series, looking at a number of case studies where technology has been used to enhance the quality of people’s lives. The resource highlights some examples where technology is being used in a positive way to provide solutions to the problems facing the health and social care sector.

One example that stands out to me is a homecare agency in Plymouth where the provider has given laptops to the people they support that can be used by their care workers to record visits and notes online. This means that other professionals – such as care managers and speech and language therapists – can also have access to the notes (with the permission of those involved and in line with GDPR), but only the creator of the note can edit them.

Having a system where notes can be shared might not be a radical idea, but we know that having joined-up care can seem impossible for people who receive it in their own homes, and this example is just one way in which technology can be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of care-giving, as well as better monitor and support the person using the service.

On my shadow inspection visits, I am seeing more examples of providers using electronic care plans to enable their care staff to have all the information they require to deliver person-centred care in the palm of their hands. Care workers have told me that this technology enables them to spend more time interacting with the people they support. Some providers have talked to me about their frustration at how inspectors use electronic care plans during inspections. In light of this feedback, we will be hosting a workshop with providers and inspectors to develop a short piece of guidance about how inspectors should use electronic care plans during inspections. We will co-produce the guidance together and make this available in early 2020.

At CQC, we are looking to encourage experimenting with technology or other types of innovation and we are presenting these case studies to promote discussions about how we support technological innovation and how we should consider it when inspecting. Ultimately, we are looking for safe and effective care, and we are determined that regulation does not come in the way of innovative practice.

I also want to be clear about the fact that we in no way think that technology will one day be in place of our care and support workforce. Technology is great and can have so many benefits to people using services, but I also believe that technology has the power to improve the experience of the workforce, allowing staff to spend less time on paperwork and instead focus on the reason they do their job – the people they are providing care to. I look forward to writing for you again soon and discussing what CQC has coming up in autumn.

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.

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Inside CQC: Kate Terroni

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