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CQC moves away from inspections towards data-based conversations in new regulatory strategy

More dynamic and meaningful ratings that may be data- rather than inspection-based, and a greater focus on care settings with poor cultures, are two key features of the CQC’s new regulatory strategy, set out today in the document, A new strategy for the changing world of health and social care.

The regulatory roadmap for England for 2021 onwards focuses on four main themes:

  • People and communities
  • Smarter regulation
  • Safety through learning
  • Accelerating improvement.

Two fundamental changes are that CQC will assess how well local health and care systems are working together. This is likely to be underpinned by legislation in the forthcoming Health and Social Care Bill.  Secondly, providers will face increased scrutiny of how they encourage and enable people to feedback and how they act on this to deliver improvements.

In total the strategy documents 12 outcomes:

  • Activity is driven by people’s experiences of care
  • Clearly and consistently defined quality and safety in line with people’s changing needs and expectations
  • Partnership-based methods that meet people’s needs
  • Effective, proportionate, targeted, and dynamic regulation
  • Providing up-to-date and accurate picture of quality
  • Accessible, relevant, and useful information exchange
  • Improved safety cultures across health and care services and local systems that benefit people
  • Safer care when using and moving between health and social care services
  • Accelerated improvements in the quality of care
  • Safe innovation that benefits people or results in more effective and efficient services
  • Improvements in the delivery of joined-up care
  • Reduced inequalities in access, experiences and outcomes.

In operational terms, the CQC intends that ratings will be more relevant, up to date, and sufficiently meaningful to support people to make informed decisions. Ratings will also be dynamic, changing when there is evidence that shows a change in quality. The CQC says it will move towards “ongoing conversations about quality”.

In place of a set schedule of inspections, the regulator will use tools including analysis, artificial intelligence and data science to regulate, and will focus attention on care settings at greater risk of a poor culture going undetected. On-site inspections will remain a vital part of regulation, it stresses.

Where improvement is necessary, services will be offered resources including analysis and benchmarking data to support providers to decide for themselves the best way forward, rather than be told what to do.

Innovation and technology-enabled services and taking part in research will all be championed, the CQC says, where they benefit people and result in more effective and efficient services.

Ian Trenholm, chief executive at the Care Quality Commission, said: “In our assessments we will ensure that services actively take into account people’s rights and their unique perspectives. This is not a static strategy – we will continue working with others to understand any further improvements required as we implement these changes, to make sure we are protecting people, and with others, driving change.”


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