Unlike most new years, where we have a fresh start, this year feels very different. As COVID-19 figures rise and we begin a national lockdown, you continue to do extraordinary work. Once again, the world is closing its doors, people are shielding to keep themselves safe and you continue to drive to people’s homes and complete long shifts in care homes under challenging circumstances.
I recognise how difficult it is for everyone working in social care right now and I want you to know that through our regulatory activity, we will continue to support you in the difficult weeks ahead. We’ve updated our website with our current approach across all sectors.
Infection prevention and control (IPC) has always been important, but never more so than now. In response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic we introduced IPC inspections to share good practice, uphold high-quality care and ensure services are safe.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have completed over 2,500 risk-based inspections of adult social care locations and over 850 IPC inspections. This includes approved designated locations, measured against our ‘eight ticks’ of IPC assurance.
As we enter the new year, we’ll continue to look at IPC on risk-based care home inspections, including where there are rising cases of COVID-19 and in response to whistle-blowing or information of concern.
Feedback through Give feedback on care really does make a difference. From 1 April 2020 54.5% of our risk-based inspections were triggered by information of concern. Through our Because We All Care campaign, we’ve joined up with Healthwatch to call for feedback from unpaid carers. We’re incredibly grateful that many have already shared their experiences of what care is like in people’s own homes, care homes, hospitals and GPs – good and bad. I’d like to make a plea that carers continue to talk to us about what care is like, as they are our eyes and ears on the ground.
We must all continue to be vigilant when it comes to PPE and making sure IPC policies are up to date. These areas are critical to keeping people who use services and staff safe and it’s something we should all keep talking about. This year, we’re beginning to explore developing our care home IPC methodology for community settings such as supported living and extra care.
We’ll continue to look at IPC on inspections of designated settings for people leaving hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19, and have assured over 130 settings so far on the scheme. We’re now going to be helping the system to increase capacity by inspecting services where intelligence indicates a potential improvement. If the inspection is positive, this could lead to a change in rating and additional capacity locally.
In December, we published the second report of Professor Glynis Murphy’s independent review of its regulation of Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019. Debbie Ivanova, Deputy Chief Inspector, will be leading a programme that will help us better identify unacceptable care. We’ll begin with a systematic review of all Inadequate and Requires Improvement inpatient units for people with a learning disability and/or autism. We’ll focus more on people’s experiences to ensure our reporting reflects how it feels to be cared for in a service.
COVID-19 has accelerated change across health and social care, and in this new world we must also transform. We need to make changes to the way we regulate so that it’s more relevant and has positive outcomes for everyone. People’s expectations of care have changed. We need to be more flexible to manage risk and uncertainty. We’ve learned a lot from our response to the pandemic and we’re using this to put us in a better place for the future and to support services to keep people safe. We’ve just launched our strategy consultation and would like to hear what you think, so that we can make our strategy work for everyone. You can respond until 5pm on Thursday 4 March 2021.
I’d like to end by sincerely thanking you and your teams across the country for all that you continue to do.
Kate Terroni is Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission. Share your thoughts and feedback on Kate’s column below and don’t forget to stay up to date with the latest social care news on CMM’s twitter feed: @cmm_magazine