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How social care providers compare regionally: Challenges with regulatory compliance

09/08/2023 minute read Health and Care

In our Care Trends Report 2023, we surveyed care and support provider owners, CEOs and managing directors to understand the specific challenges being tackled in social care today. Every social care provider understands how important regulatory compliance is to not only their service user’s safety, but also their employee’s welfare.

Yet compliance is easier said than done. Changing expectations, regional differences or inadequate processes can all impact the effectiveness, safety and responsiveness of care provision.

We have identified some of the regulatory proof of compliance challenges social care providers are facing. And in this article, we’re delving into variations between official UK regions and comparing the feedback we received.

Challenges Recording Information in social care

  • Safeguarding

Clear and consistent recording of care delivery is the foundation to evidencing regulatory compliance. Without a clear record of care plans, safeguarding or accident logs, providers can’t give an accurate report of their compliance during an inspection.

Only 6% of all providers we surveyed said they largely record safeguarding processes manually (either written or spreadsheets), with the highest level of manual recording in the Midlands (14%) and the lowest in Scotland (0%). This is a really positive step towards digital transformation. Technology is a more reliable and auditable way of recording / sharing data than traditional paper-based processes, but some providers are still facing challenges with their software.

Manual Safeguarding Processes

  • Delays passing data

Every region we surveyed faces issues when passing real-time data due to delays between systems / data silos, especially over multiple locations. 30% of those in the South East of England and 27% in Northern Ireland in particular find this to be a challenge. We also found that 27% of social care professionals in both these regions say they struggle capturing information such as repositioning, hydration and medication at the point of care.

Digital tools shouldn’t be an extra complication for providers to deal with. The sector deserves a single software solution that meets all their needs, being accessible on-demand. Compliance records can then be updated at the point of care and easily shared between professionals in real-time, allowing for more collaborative and efficient care delivery that isn’t slowed down by multiple incompatible systems.

Delays Passing Data

Challenges Collating Documents in social care

  • Collating Regulatory Information

One third (33%) of all providers we surveyed said they find collating information - such as key lines of enquiry (KLOE) data - for regulatory bodies difficult. There were also significant regional difficulties around collating key events such as accidents, incidents and safeguarding. 52% in the South East found difficulties in this area, with 29% in the North West and only 13% in Wales.

It’s clear that many of our respondents are having trouble collating records that they would need to evidence during an inspection. This will likely be the case if they are relying on handwritten notes, manually updating multiple spreadsheets or misplacing records entirely. And these challenges could impact an organisations compliance with evidencing safety and being a well-led organisation. Again, this highlights how the sector needs a fully integrated digital tool that allows staff to record and share regulatory information anywhere, anytime.

Collating Key Events (Accidents & Safeguarding)

  • Missing Records

Having all care management data in a single integrated solution helps to ensure that care workers and management teams have access to all the relevant information as soon as they need it. This is imperative to care delivery and for recounting practice during an inspection.

Yet missing records seems to be an issue for many providers throughout the UK. When it comes to regulation compliance, missing data could again have an impact on client safety if, for example, providers are not able to provide evidence of how they protect service users from harm.

46% of those in the North West and 34% in the Midlands stated they have had previous occurrences of missing records. Are providers in these regions likely to be relying on multiple systems, losing manually inputted records in the process?

Missing Records

Challenges Reporting Data in social care

  • Insufficient Technology

All regions reported that their current IT systems were not adequate in terms of care quality, compliance & reportable event management, potentially putting clients at risk. 47% in London, 38% in Wales and 19% in Northern Ireland also find it difficult to get regional or care location specific information in one report.

Our statistics seem to suggest that this has the biggest impact on the largest providers, with 55% of those with over 1000 employees saying they struggle in this area. Having disjointed reporting processes (possibly over multiple locations) could mean these larger providers are struggling with data silos or regulatory non-compliance in their organisation, potentially putting service users at risk, or at the least, an inability / difficulty to prove compliance.

We also asked providers when considering the effectiveness of technology across their organisation, how do they measure their return on investment (ROI). Efficiency of processes as well as service user / family feedback were the most popular methods of measurement for many regions. However, 56% of those in Yorkshire, 47% in the South West of England, 46% in the Midlands and 19% in Wales stated they want their technology to help them improve their CQC inspection rating.

Technology to Help Improve CQC Rating

If you’re interested in learning more, download our Care Trends Report 2023 where we take a closer look into the key challenges and opportunities occurring in social care today.

Read our other regional blog in this series: How social care providers compare regionally: Challenges with business operations