October 1 saw the implementation of the new CQC inspection regime for adult social care. Perhaps you have been one of the first domiciliary care providers to experience the new inspection.
Of course we’ve seen changes to the adult social care inspections before. And you could probably be forgiven if you see these changes as asking the same questions in a different way and with different checklists. But I believe that this time around it’s different. I believe this for a number of reasons.
First there is the background to the changes affecting adult social care. Several high-profile failures highlighted the fact to ministers and the public that the previous inspection model was broken. It wasn’t an issue over the details of how it was implemented; it was fundamentally not fit for purpose.
More than just fine words?
Then there is the language used by Norman Lamb and Andrea Sutcliffe. This shows an understanding and acceptance of the scale of the issue and the priorities. The aim of the new inspections is to decide whether social care providers are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs, and well led. The people driving the process definitely don’t see this as an exercise as ‘being seen to be doing something.’
There’s also the significance of this to the CQC as an organisation. Andrea Sutcliffe alluded to this in one of her recent blogs. There is a question mark over whether the CQC is the right type of body to be overseeing health and social care providers and she understands this. They have to prove that they are the organisation that can guarantee that care is delivered by organisations that are safe, effective, caring and well-led.
Making the numbers add up
And finally there is the economic backdrop. For the foreseeable future every government will be faced with the issue of delivering more care with a budget that will not increase in real terms. Having better quality and better managed providers is the only way that they have any hope of achieving this.
That’s why I believe that the new inspections will be significantly different and more rigorous. And for some providers this may be a shock to the system.
Data and evidence
There will be an even bigger focus on data and evidence. Does your domiciliary care business have the systems and tools in place to prove how you provide effective and safe care? Can you show how you involve service users and respond to their needs? Can you demonstrate how important factors like continuity of care are managed?
I don’t think there will be any opportunity to ‘fudge’ these issues.
And finally, how will you convince the inspection team that your service is well-led? If you’re still using outdated management tools and processes I think this will be a near-impossible challenge.
Several domiciliary care providers I’ve spoken to see the new inspections as one of the most significant changes to the social care sector for a long time. They are expecting, and planning for, a very different experience the next time the inspector calls. And they’re doing everything they can to be graded as outstanding so they only have to go through the process every two years.
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