Knowing the requirements of CQC inspections is one thing, but how can your social care organisation ensure that it meets the fundamental standards?
With regulation updates being discussed, it helps to be aware of the types of questions asked during an inspection and how you can keep up with any changes due to take place. The CQC has proposed a new way it wants to approach inspections, stating “We want to move away from using comprehensive, on-site inspection as the main way of updating ratings... Instead, we want to use wider sources of evidence, tools, and techniques to assess quality.”[i]
Starting with the key lines of enquiry, we can see how the CQC currently focuses on five separate areas. These being Safety, Effectiveness, Caring, Responsiveness and being Well-led. CQC inspections consider all areas and members of staff, whether they come into contact with service users directly or indirectly. This means that your organisation needs to be able to monitor and maintain standards in every aspect of the care process.
According to the CQC guidance to using digital record keeping, “We assess digital record systems against the relevant key lines of enquiry and the characteristics of ratings, just like paper records.” And “CQC is developing our next five-year strategy from 2021 onwards. This will have a key focus on driving improvement and innovation.” [ii]
Let’s have a look into the key questions asked and how digital systems could help you demonstrate compliance when a CQC inspection is carried out.
‘How do staff identify and respond appropriately to changing risks to people, including deteriorating health and wellbeing, medical emergencies or behaviour that challenges?’
In this example, an inspector will want to see how your organisation monitors and responds to changes seen in clients. A way you can demonstrate safety with digital technology is by using a system that has the ability to record when staff training has taken place and when this training needs to be revisited before it expires. By having these indicators, you can help ensure that your team is equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to identify the changing risks of clients. With continuously maintained knowledge, your care workers can provide those accurate responses and then update the digital system accordingly so they can monitor the changing risks seen in their client.
‘How is technology and equipment used to enhance the delivery of effective care and treatment and to support people’s independence?’
In terms of this question, digital systems can improve the effectiveness of care, as all data is recorded and updated in one online system. This can give your care workers access to tasks and client preferences at the point of care, equipping them with the details needed to provide personalised treatment. These case notes may include things like ‘encourage them to eat breakfast in the dining room’ or ‘they enjoy going into the garden after lunch’. By having these notes at hand, your support staff are able to see exactly what they need to take into account for that individual and perhaps support their client’s independence.
‘Do staff understand and respect the personal, cultural, social and religious needs of people and how these may relate to care needs, and do they take these into account in the way they deliver services? Is this information recorded and shared with other services or providers?’
Ultimately, your organisation needs to be able to deliver seamless and effective care. Digital solutions equip care workers with their clients’ care details, which allows them to accurately tailor the care they provide to the individual by reviewing the notes they have at hand and updating the digital system with the relevant information. For this question, we can also note that some digital systems are designed to be integrated with systems used in the other health and care sectors. This means that client records being shared, such as with their GP, are being delivered quickly and easily.
‘How is technology used to support timely access to care and treatment? Is the technology (including telephone systems and online / digital services) easy to use?’
Being able to demonstrate responsiveness is another aspect noted in CQC inspections. For this question, digital systems help your organisation to add seamless and accurate updates to client records and monitor their data. This gives your care workers up-to-date information to refer to when the need arises. Being able to track when and where care was delivered helps you to provide the appropriate digital records to other services or your inspector when they ask for them. As well as this, digital systems aim to be as user-friendly as possible. Digital providers will also have their own support teams available to you after you are all set up with your new system. They are there for your staff to turn to with any queries or training they may need when using the system.
‘Is there a systematic programme of clinical and internal audit to monitor quality, operational and financial processes, and systems to identify where action should be taken?’
Being able to demonstrate a well-led care practice is something your organisation needs to display. Digital systems can offer better visibility to monitor and act upon any areas of improvement. Some systems are incredibly customisable, allowing organisations to monitor their operational and financial processes with flexibility, helping to record and identify areas of focus. Having these functionalities within one system keeps data together, helping you with reporting, seeing trends and auditing.
How you can get started
If you are considering your digital options and how they can enhance your organisation, check out our social care solutions, designed to support record keeping, data management and auditability.