Are you certain your care home will receive an ‘Outstanding’ CQC Standard on your next inspection? With too many care homes failing to get the basics right, it’s vital to be proactive in your approach to providing excellent care. That means being open to feedback, being willing to put changes in place and always striving to improve.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) asks five questions of care homes to ensure their 13 fundamental standards are met:

  • Are they safe?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to people’s needs?
  • Are they well-led?

Based on these questions, here are some specific, often missed, areas where care homes are at risk of letting themselves – and their residents – down.

Safety – Radiator cabinets

Care homes often cater to older service-users with mobility or balance issues. Having uncovered radiators can pose a danger if a person were to fall against, or have to lean on, a hot radiator.

And, for those with dementia, hot surfaces like radiators or other heaters are particularly dangerous. Not only are they more likely to interact with the hot surface and harm themselves, they are also less able to report a burn for treatment.

Efficacy – Paperwork reviews

Diligent organisation and up-to-date paperwork is a must in an industry that is so highly regulated. It’s the safety net that provides accountability. Not only is it vital that paperwork is filled out correctly to ensure regulation breaches don’t occur, it is also important to have a system for review.

If a care plan includes a decision that should be reviewed on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, there needs to be a calendar or alert system to advise service-providers. This is especially key in cases involving medication or reduced liberty. Also, scheduled reviews should be supplemented with ad hoc reviews if there is significant development in a person’s requirements or behaviours.

Care – Task-focused care

One of the CQC Standards is a requirement to provide person-centred care. But, with organisational and staffing pressures, care can become task-focused.

A survey of 1544 care staff in 2018 found that there was abuse in 91 out of 92 care homes, usually due to some sort of oversight or neglect. Some tasks are not being given enough attention, for example, 19 percent of residents reported not being given enough time to eat. ‘Lunchtime’ should not take priority over the person eating lunch.

Responsiveness – Call bells

A nurse call system that manages and monitors call responses means that patients are not left waiting when they need help. It just makes sense. There has to be accountability that goes beyond service-providers self-reporting their own responsiveness, according to CQC Standards.

The Dementia, Care and Nursing Home Expo reports:

‘Of the 300 care home owners we surveyed on our database, 94 percent said they believe nurse call systems dramatically increase response times for their residents at risk.’

Leadership – Staff training audits

It is management’s responsibility at a care home to carry out audits and risk assessments. A CQC inspector will spend time speaking with staff and assessing their abilities and staff records. This could reveal gaps in knowledge around critical areas such as infection control, fire safety and moving and handling people, which reflects poorly on the leadership in place.

The key take-away

Consistent and high quality service is only possible with training of the same standard. Even the most well-meaning staff can breach CQC Standards if not given the right tools. Online training courses are a cost-efficient, flexible way of meeting your training needs, so you can pass your CQC inspection with flying colours.

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