Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, provides an update on how the CQC is supporting care homes through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We recognise that 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 they have high quality, person centred care, is at the heart of all decisions we make.
Although we all have hope as summer approaches, I know the journey through COVID-19 recovery is just beginning and you’re facing ongoing challenges on areas such as occupancy rates, staffing, visiting guidance and vaccinations. Recovery poses both challenge and opportunity to our sector and we’ll all need to continue to adapt. Many of these issues pre-date the pandemic but I want to reassure you we’ll be there to support you through our regulated activity.
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. We’ve also 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 your 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 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 over the course of the pandemic. 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 reflect the quality or safety of the care provided. We’ll be working with your trade associations to release this information collaboratively and in context.
As visiting restrictions continue to be eased, it’s important to continue to share clear, transparent and regular communications with families and residents about visiting. We’ve heard some fantastic examples of providers going above and beyond to keep people informed. We published a joint statement with Relatives and Residents Association, National Care Forum, Skills for Care and the Care Provider Alliance which shares some good practice to support you. If you have a website for your service, it’s good practice to publish your visiting policy for transparency. The Care Provider Alliance have collated some great resources to help you including their ‘Partners in Care’ resources to support meaningful visits.
We’ve been clear throughout the pandemic that the individual must be at the centre of decisions around visiting. We know the majority of providers are making every effort to follow the latest guidance but if something changes and you’re unable to do this, please talk to your inspector and continue to submit information through the capacity tracker. We use the information you complete on visiting to inform our monitoring of services and to prioritise inspections. If we’re made aware that guidance on visiting isn’t being followed, we’ll follow up with the provider and inspect if we consider there’s a risk.
In my next column I’ll talk about culturally appropriate care and some new resources we are launching to help you. We have also published our new strategy at the end of May. We have already heard from many of you 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.