CQC delays implementation of new regulatory approach, affording care providers more time to prepare | QCS

CQC delays implementation of new regulatory approach, affording care providers more time to prepare

Dementia Care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is delaying the introduction of its new regulatory framework until the end of 2023, which will give care providers more time to prepare for the changes.

In a recent communication, the regulator said it had previously shared that it would introduce its new regulatory approach in January 2023. It went on to say that ‘following a full review of our timeline, we have decided this will now not happen until later in 2023.’

This represents good news for many in the care industry. A recent survey  (1,268 providers) by us has found that although 83 percent of respondents were aware of the new framework, just under half felt they understood it well. Moreover, over half (63 percent) said their organisation had not yet started preparing for the new framework.

Nadra Ahmed, Chairman of the National Care Association, commented that ‘Many providers will be concerned about the full implications of this new way of working as is borne out by the survey.’

QCS, the leading provider of content, guidance and standards for the social care sector, is keeping abreast of the CQC’s new approach and will share how the new framework will work in practice through its new CQC information hub.

The resource contains blogs, policy updates, updates in the management system and free webinars to help providers navigate and comply with the new CQC requirements.

We have also invited the CQC to respond to the result of our survey. The CQC recommends providers regularly visit its website for further news and announcements, sign up for the CQC newsletter and engage with local CQC staff.

Nadra Ahmed added, ‘We would advise all providers to make themselves familiar with the methodology and liaise with their inspectors if they need clarity.’

She went on to say that the new framework ‘undoubtedly shifts additional responsibility on to providers to submit information which will then be remotely assessed and used to deliver ratings. The regulator is funded by the sector to inspect services,’ she said, ‘and many do welcome the more face-to-face approach as it enables inspectors to understand the systems approach of a service which may not come alive in a paper submission.’

The new way of working will alter the relationship between the CQC and providers, as the regulator moves from an inspection-based framework to continual assessment. Providers will be expected to show how effective their care is through sharing data from multiple sources.

As providing evidence is at the heart of its new approach, the CQC will make much more use of information, including people’s experiences of care services.

The regulator told QCS that it would gather evidence to support its judgements in a variety of ways and at different times – not just through on-site inspections. ‘This means inspections will support this activity, rather than being our primary way to collect evidence,’ it said.

‘We will make judgements about quality more regularly, instead of only after an inspection as we do today. We’ll use evidence from a variety of sources and look at any number of quality statements to do this.’

Lindsay Rees, Head of Social Care Content for QCS said that peoples’ experiences of care has always been important to the inspection framework. However, now that the CQC is not going to visit providers as often, ‘how they capture and share this information will be a fundamental part of working within the new framework.

Every day will be an inspection day, and this is how it should be,’ she added. ‘CQC will gather its evidence from people who have used the service and can do this at any time.

My advice to providers is to embrace the feedback they receive daily, good and bad. Then get into the habit of capturing and documenting what they do to continuously improve. When the CQC inspects remotely and asks then about people’s experience of their service, they will have plenty of evidence to share.’

The CQC informed QCS that it wants to work closely ‘through engagement and in partnership with providers’ to ensure it understands their needs. ‘We’ll do this through forums such as our implementation steering group,’ the regulator said, ‘to advise us on what providers will need to know, when and how and also through online channels such as our CitizenLab platform.’

The CQC also said its assessments will be more structured and transparent, using evidence categories as part of the assessment framework and giving a score for what they find. ‘The way we make our decisions about ratings will be clearer and easier to understand,’ it concluded.

As part of its strategic theme ‘Smarter Regulation,’ the CQC will expand how it interacts digitally with providers. ‘Parts of our assessment activity will be carried out remotely,’ the CQC spokesperson told QCS, ‘including when we request access to records.

We will also increasingly enable providers to access our processes and provide information digitally. We are committed to supporting the digitisation of adult social care, including working to support providers who face barriers to adopting digital care records.’