CQC promises rapid response inspections for failing or improving care homes

A promise to respond more quickly to clusters of complaints or reports of trouble from other agencies at care services is at the heart of the Care Quality Commission’s strategy for the next five years.

In a new policy document, Shaping the future – CQC’s strategy for 2016 to 2021, the regulator says it will sharpen its focus on failing care institutions. It will increase the frequency of unannounced inspections at these services in a move to minimise risk to residents and patients.

On the flip side, the agency will also respond more quickly to re-inspect homes where evidence suggests that care has significantly improved.

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“We’ll make more use of focused unannounced inspections which target the areas where our insight suggests risk is greatest or quality is improving – with ratings updated where we find changes,” explains CQC’s chief executive, David Behan (pictured above).

One of the key developments to CQC’s approach will be greater use of information from the public, providers, other regulators and oversight bodies in order to target resources more effectively to where risk to the quality of care provided is greatest, or to where quality is likely to have changed, the report explains.

In practice, this will mean more use of targeted unannounced inspections, based on information that is constantly updated – for example, if there is a sudden spike in people reporting poor care from a particular service. It would also mean longer intervals between inspections for services rated good or outstanding if they can continue to demonstrate that they are providing good care.

“Inspection will always be crucial to our understanding of quality but we’ll increasingly be getting more and better information from the public and providers and using it alongside inspections to provide a trusted, responsive, independent view of quality that is regularly updated and that will be invaluable  to people who provide services as well as those who use them,” claims Mr Behan.

Care home operators will be given more opportunities to report on their own improvements to the CQC, and make suggestions on how to share data. The regulator will also attempt to help minimise the amount of times the same information is provided to different agencies.

“We’ll also do more to help providers to monitor  and report on their own quality; work with national and local partners to formalise the definition of quality and agree how we should measure it; and develop a shared data set so providers are only asked for information once. This will make it easier for health and care services to know what is expected of them and to report on it, and easier for people to know what to expect from their care,” explains Mr Behan.

Shaping the future distils its priorities for the next five years down to four key goals:

Encourage improvement, innovation and sustainability in care – we will work with others to support improvement, adapt our approach as new care models develop, and publish new ratings of NHS trusts’ and foundation trusts’ use of resources.

Deliver an intelligence-driven approach to regulation – we will use our information from the public and providers more effectively to target our resources where the risk to the quality of care provided is greatest and to check where quality is improving, and we will introduce a more proportionate approach to registration.

Promote a single shared view of quality – we will work with others to agree a consistent approach to defining and measuring quality, collecting information from providers, and delivering a single vision of high-quality care.

Improve our efficiency and effectiveness – we will work more efficiently, achieving savings each year, and improving how we work with the public and providers.

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