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25th July 2022

The Capacity Tracker – Here to stay with added bite

Just over a year ago I wrote how the capacity tracker was changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that in another life I refused to engage with it as it had no relevance on the business at that time.

Fast forward to July 2022 and holding that view of the tracker may just land me and others like me in hot water as the tracker has now grown its teeth and comes with a hefty consequence.

Failure to provide the information in accordance with the requirements will now amount to a breach of the duty and a potential fine under the Health and Care Act 2022. In other words, for many providers making its completion mandatory.

Who needs to comply?

All adult social care (ASC) providers registered with the CQC will need to comply. Even though the guidance goes on to detail what information is needed specifically for care homes and domiciliary care , if you are a CQC registered supported living service, this also applies to you.

It is now abundantly clear to me that without proper debate and consultation that the capacity tracker data collection process is here to stay even though the guidance states until further notice. Many of us have been here before and tweaks will happen regularly, additional data requirements will be added and before you know it we will be in a monthly encyclopaedia writing scenario.

Whilst I agree there are plus points of centralising data collection, is now the right time to do this and with a threat of a fine? Managers and providers are still preparing for the implementation of Liberty Protection Safeguards and the new CQC framework is about to roll out early next year, and this is on top of all the other data collection providers need to complete.

So, it is important for providers to get organised to avoid financial penalties, and more importantly, potential breaches that could trigger CQC inspections.

Are you prepared for data collection?

The first set of monthly data is due by the end of 14 August 2022.

The data will need to be provided by you on a monthly basis. Providers will be required to update data by the end of the 14th day of each month, or the next working day where the 14th falls on a weekend or public holiday. Data must be no more than a week out of date – that is, data must be correct to no further back than the 8th of each month.

Lots of the information is already being asked for but there are some parts that you may not already be collating so now is the time to get ready. This includes:

  • Bed vacancies including vacant beds that are not available for admission – reasons bed not available (mandatory from 16 September 2022) - Residential
  • People using the service on that day – Domiciliary
  • Workforce resources, including COVID and non-COVID related absences

COVID-19 Vaccination

Interestingly this is asking for vaccination and booster status despite the requirement for vaccination being relaxed (watch this space) and includes agency and bank staff. Does your agency provide this information?

  • Resident’s vaccination status

Flu Vaccination

For residents and staff, we again previously talked about this collection when the CQC consulted on mandatory vaccination, and this is already gathered by many but now finds a formal place here seasonally between 1 September to 31 March.

Visiting Arrangements

This will create problems for many as they want to know if residents are having visits in and out of your service and what your current visiting arrangements are.

Existing Data Collection

On top of this there is also still going to exist daily data requirements and other data items such as:

  • Confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in staff and residents
  • Vaccination updates
  • PPE availability
  • Daily bed vacancy updates
  • Workforce data

Now is the time to be prepared as it is clear that the CQC will be able to access this information and use this to make some judgements on your service as part of the new framework.

How QCS can help you

QCS has already put in place measures to support you to gather this data, but you need to ensure you are fully prepared and not caught off guard triggering any enforcement action.

  • Are you using an agency? If so, are you collecting information on the QCS Agency Profile form which includes vaccination information, including flu?
  • The QCS Vaccination Tracker also includes vaccinations, exemptions and flu, this will support you to keep track on some static information
  • Use your visitors’ policies to your advantage by making sure they are reviewed and reflect the current status of your service
  • Are you auditing visits in and out to assist in evidencing this area of compliance?

Finally, don’t panic we have been here before and after a couple of months this additional information will be second nature once more.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Barry Price

Specialist in Adults with Learning Disabilities and Complex Needs

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