By Charlotte Rowe, Care Practice Manager at Markel Care Practitioners. (https://uk.markel.com/services/markel-care-practitioners)
The CQC has announced an updated timeline for the rollout of its new assessment framework and online portal. Charlotte Rowe discusses the changes and what they mean for care providers.
In 2022, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced major changes to the framework it uses to regulate health and social care providers. A pilot scheme quickly followed with a small number of test adopters, after which the CQC planned to start the full rollout in 2023. However, this was delayed until later in 2023, to give the body enough time to fully test the technology being used as part of the changes.
In July of this year, the CQC published a further update on its plans in relation to the online portal and the assessment process itself.
Online portal rolling out in August
The CQC has invited an initial group of care providers to access and test its new online portal in August, before rolling the service out to all providers in September.
The portal itself is aimed at streamlining how the body collects data to support their new assessment regime. The CQC claim it will help make assessments themselves smarter and more consistent. For providers, the CQC assert, the new portal will make it easier for providers to provide evidence and information.
“The ability to use the new portal effectively will be key to positive gradings and outcomes for providers needing to supply evidence to the CQC”, says Charlotte Rowe, Care Practice Manager at Markel Care Practitioners.
“For providers still using paper-based systems, it’s advisable to consider how these will interact with the new portal. Given the changes to evidence reviewing and collection methods, paper-based systems could put providers at a disadvantage in respect of evidencing good practice, regulatory compliance, and time expenditure in using the portal.”
The new framework rollout
The rollout of the new assessment framework will commence in November on a regional basis. Providers registered in the South of England will be first. This includes those in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire.
Those regions not in the initial roll out will continue to be assessed under the existing framework until they become part of the new assessment rollout.
“Markel Care Practitioners has been providing training and support around the implementation of the new framework and what strategies providers can use to transition smoothly, as well as updating Quality Assurance against the ‘we’ statements”, says Charlotte.
“It’s important to be prepared, so providers in the South of England that have not yet reviewed and considered the implications of the new framework need to take proactive steps as soon as possible.”
Care providers will need to be aware of a number of key changes to the assessment process:
• Ratings will no longer be dependent solely on on-site inspections, enabling them to reflect the quality of care more accurately. This also means that gradings can go up and down without an onsite inspection
• The CQC will be able to respond more rapidly to concerns raised, without on-site inspections
• Wider categories of evidence collection will be available, inclusive of people’s experiences, feedback from staff and leaders, observations of care, feedback from partners, processes and outcomes of care
• The move to quality statements and away from KLOEs, and new areas of consideration such as sustainability and staff wellbeing
• The use of a numerical scoring system will provide more accurate data for quality statements and to understand areas of improvement
• The regulation of local authorities i.e. commissioning bodies, integrated care systems and effective working between commissioners, oversight and providers
In addition, providers should consider the impact that the new framework will have on their own quality assurance and auditing processes, as well as record keeping to evidence the quality of care.
Staying up to date
The CQC has stated that: “the phased approach to assessments using the new framework, introducing the new provider portal and wider digital services, will continue into 2024.” It suggests signing up to its email bulletins to stay updated via this link.
“It’s important that all providers regulated by the CQC – including those commissioned by Local Authority Adult Commissioning – keep up to date regarding the planned changes, the rollout, and the outcomes of any pilot schemes”, says Charlotte.
“Ensuring that managers and frontline workers are supported through these changes is key, as is reviewing any internal processes and documentation to marry with the proposed changes to the framework. Being prepared for the changes planned by the CQC will be key in maintaining and improving gradings in the coming months.”