We’re all starting to take those first few tentative steps out of lockdown. As our communities begin to slowly open up, many of us will feel like our lives are returning to a familiar rhythm. I’m sure, like me, you’re looking towards the summer with hope. Hope for your loved ones, the people you care for and your colleagues.
However, I recognise that you’re still facing daily challenges on areas such as workforce, visiting, occupancy and vaccination. The journey through COVID-19 recovery is just beginning and poses a number of challenges and opportunities for our sector. Everyone will need to continue adapting but I want to reassure you that we’ll be there to support you.
I know you are working tirelessly to provide care and support during this time and my thoughts are with everyone who has lost someone through the COVID-19 pandemic. Our regulatory role and core purpose to keep people safe and ensure that they have high-quality, person-centred care is at the heart of all decisions we make.
COVID-19 has accelerated change across health and social care and, in this new world, we are changing too. So far, we’ve had over 20,000 structured monitoring calls with providers. These supportive conversations focus on specific key lines of enquiry and are an opportunity to raise any concerns you have with your inspector. Many of you will have experienced an infection prevention and control (IPC) inspection. We’ve now completed over 7,000 inspections since the start of the pandemic in adult social care locations, including IPC, risk and designated settings inspections. We’ve seen some fantastic IPC practice out there and over 90% of IPC inspections had an overall outcome of ‘assured’. This allows us to reassure the public about the good practice and safety of our services at a time when their concerns are high.
We’ve adapted our care home IPC methodology to be used in community settings such as supported living and extra care. This tool has been developed as a way to seek and give assurance that, where providers have responsibility for IPC, they are following best practice guidance and working with other relevant agencies to keep people safe. This will be published on our website in the coming weeks.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve received a number of requests to share the data we hold on deaths in care homes at a location level. We’ve kept our decision on whether to release this data under review. We already publish data on the total number of deaths in care homes in partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on a weekly basis; however, we’re now working towards sharing further data on this in the coming months and are in ongoing conversations with ONS about how best to release this.
We know that on its own the number of deaths at a care home during this pandemic does not provide an accurate assessment of quality or safety. We’ll be working with your trade associations to release this information collaboratively and in context. Please continue to share clear, transparent and regular communications with families about any outbreaks and deaths at your service.
Holistic, person-centred care has always been important, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on why. We’ve just published information about culturally appropriate care on our website. Culturally appropriate care is about being sensitive to people’s cultural identity or heritage. It means being alert and responsive to feelings, beliefs or conventions that might be determined by a person’s culture. In these pages, you will find examples and good practice to help you think about different ways culture might affect care. This has become even more important through the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage you all to reflect on this information and think of some culturally appropriate care examples with your colleagues.
Towards the end of May we’ll be launching our new strategy. Our strategy covers four key themes: people and communities, smarter regulation, safety through learning and accelerating improvement. Integrated throughout is an ambition to look at how the care provided in a local system is working to improve outcomes for people and reduce inequalities. This means looking at how services are working together within a system, as well as how individual systems are performing as a whole. We’ll be shaping the implementation of our strategy with you from the summer to help ensure our plans ultimately help people access better care. We have already heard your voice in response to our consultation on the strategy and this will help to shape our smarter, more responsive model of regulation for the future. Continue to engage through our digital participation platform and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.
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.