Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, provides an update on the CQC’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost three months have passed since I last wrote to you and updated you on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened since then and we are continually learning from the pandemic, adapting our approach to regulation, and thinking about this informs our future strategy from 2021.
We recently held a series of five webinars to begin the conversation on our strategy with providers, and the response was overwhelming. It was great to be able to hear what you had to say about the way we have responded to COVID-19 and answer some of your questions. If you did not make any of the webinars we have posted recordings of these on our YouTube channel. To get involved in shaping our future strategy don’t forget to sign up to our digital participation platform.
Supporting providers during the pandemic has been hugely important to us, leading to the development of the Emergency Support Framework (ESF), launched at the beginning of May. The ESF allows us to have structured monitoring conversations with providers, offering them support and guidance to make sure people using services are kept safe during an incredibly challenging time for everyone. Providers overall have been very positive about the ESF, with many appreciating the supportive approach we have taken in responding to COVID-19.
While we have continued to visit services that we have identified as high risk, the fact that we are not carrying out routine inspections means that hearing what people have to say about the care they receive is more important than ever. In July we launched the ‘Because we all care’ campaign, in partnership with Healthwatch England, to call on everybody to help shape health and social care by sharing feedback on the care they have received, whether it is good, bad or mixed. New research has shown that since the outbreak of coronavirus nearly two thirds of people would support the NHS and social care services by actively providing feedback on their care. I hope that this campaign will help services address quality issues that they might not have identified otherwise, shine a spotlight on best practice and support people who use services by encouraging them to share their feedback on care they receive.
Hearing feedback from people who use services is incredibly important and plays a critical role in services which might have a closed culture. We have been progressing our work on how we effectively regulate closed cultures and in June we released new guidance to support our inspection teams to continue to improve how we identify and respond to services that might be at risk of developing closed cultures. When developing this guidance, we worked with people who use services, their families, Experts by Experience and stakeholders. We have now trained over 2,000 of our inspectors on how to identify a closed culture and have been setting up an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) to work with us on our closed cultures work. If you would like to be kept up to date with the work via regular blogs and news stories, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to our mailing list.
We have learnt a huge amount from COVID-19 so far, and we continue to think about the way we are working as the situation moves on. I want to close the column by saying another enormous thank you to all of you working in social care across the country. I am beyond grateful that there are so many caring, dedicated people to look after the people who need us during such a difficult time.