The social care sector faced one of its most challenging years in 2021 due to the combination of COVID-19 and Brexit. Chronic staff shortages, recruitment issues and mental health challenges put additional untold pressure on an already exhausted workforce.
With Government whitepapers and funding reform providing the promise of a brighter future for the sector, many are looking to 2022 as a year when the virus will be finally tamed.
In the first of two articles, we asked QCS experts for their views and opinions on the year ahead.
Ed Watkinson, QCS, Residential care and Inspection specialist
“In 2021, the CQC released its new strategy and the focus that would be used to inform their regulatory approach across all the sectors it regulates. There were four main themes in the strategy focusing on people and communities, smarter regulation, safety through learning and accelerating improvement.
These themes have all directed the thinking of CQC as far as adult social care is concerned, but what in real terms do we think will this mean for adult social care services and their relationship with CQC?
They will be developing a process that is much more reliant on how they get information about services. They will be seeking information from more varied sources – people that use services, commissioners, public, local health services and other stakeholders. Providers will need to ensure that they have good relationships with everyone and not just focus on the CQC, and will also need feedback and evidence from these sources that show the quality of the service being provided.
The CQC will also be undertaking more ‘remote’ inspections, using the evidence provided by others to come to a judgement, and will possibly start to rate services without stepping over the threshold. Providers will need to be consistently reviewing and developing action plans to improve the quality of their provision, and not just ‘prepare’ for an on-site inspection event. It is felt that inspection will become more of a continuous process as opposed to a cyclical event.
The CQC is going to be using more of the same processes, criteria and systems across all health and social care, and this is to provide a view of the local area and community that the service is located – so there will be an increased focus on how people work together, and know what is important in the local areas.
There is no getting away from the fact that the ‘digitalisation of social care’ is happening extremely quickly and has been enhanced by the pandemic, so the CQC will be looking closely at how electronic, online systems are being used and the benefits for people using services. This can be seen as a real opportunity for services to demonstrate innovation and lead the agenda.
In addition, the CQC is going to be changing the criteria to come to judgements and the KLOEs are going to be replaced by ‘Quality Statements’, and the five questions will be reframed as ‘I’ statements, which will encourage services to demonstrate and evidence how they are focused on improving the lives of people using services. These changes are going to be ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’ and will be based upon the learning from the pandemic and the need to focus more on outcomes for people rather than processes.”
Barry Price, QCS, Specialist Contributor, Consultant
“The roadmap out of the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to present challenges. The ever-changing guidance requirements bring additional COVID-19 testing, isolation, social distancing measures and care home visiting restrictions have seen managers bracing themselves for 2022.
And as the year begins it looks set to be no different with the expansion of Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD) in England where all frontline CQC regulated staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1st April 2022.
The devastating effect that these measures have already had on staffing levels across parts of Social Care is clear for all to see. It has led to further staff shortages in an already chronic recruitment and retention crisis.
To prepare and ensure that your service levels and Business Viability can be maintained what can you do?
Firstly, Managers can hold 1:1 meetings with staff who remain unvaccinated. They can offer support to encourage take up of vaccination. Finally, managers can engage in open and honest dialogue with unvaccinated staff, which lays out all of the possible options and the impact that not having the vaccine will have on their careers and that of the service – if they refuse.
Secondly, it is vital that managers and senior frontline staff review and plan recruitment strategies in order to account for those staff that they know they will lose.
Thirdly, managers should review policies and procedures including recruitment, admission, Business Continuity Plans.
Finally, on this point, business planning and service development planning, should not be ignored. Are there options to diversify the business model e.g. relocation of office teams, non-front line staffing to accommodate redeployment if this was an option.
QCS offers a range of Planning tools to assist providers with preparation that they may find useful. The Vaccination Planner, Tracker, Mandatory Supervision Log, Agency and Professional Profiles and Recruitment, Business Continuity Plans are all policies that, if used correctly, can add great value.”
Emily Kerrigan, QCS, Domiciliary Care Policy Lead
“One of the key things coming into force this year for adult care home workers in Wales is mandatory registration with Social Care Wales, which comes into force from October 2022. Once in place care home workers may be unable to practice in Wales if they are not qualified or are removed from the register.
In order to ascertain what stage workers are at in the registration process, providers must ensure workers with the necessary qualifications are registered by applying on the Social Care Wales online.
Providers should ensure workers who are new to social care register follow induction at the service. They should complete either the All Wales Induction Framework for health and social care or the Social Care Wales Principles and Values Award.
Providers should ensure workers with experience, but without the necessary qualifications, are assessed against the required competencies and a signed declaration is provided by the manager.
To prepare for this new requirement providers should also ensure registration of workers is embedded in recruitment and induction processes at the service. They should also make sure that a record is kept on file of all staff currently registered and what stage other staff are at within the process. Managers should ensure staff are fully aware of the process and what they need to do. Finally, providers should recruit registration champions in the service that can support staff in the run up to the new requirements.”
Full details of the requirement can be found here:
For domiciliary care workers and other services registration requirements can be found here: