With demand for frontline care services continuing to rise, many providers are struggling to cope. The crisis has led some in the NHS to conclude that “the sector needs a long-term plan and significant investment”. [i]
However, against this challenging backdrop, there are some providers who are showing themselves to be role models for efficiency and productivity – while at the same time maintaining the highest standards of care.
Take Premier Care, a domiciliary care agency operating in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, for example. Rated as ‘good’ by the CQC, it’s a relatively small organisation, but one that’s punching well above its weight.
With just 350 staff, Premier Care collectively provides 6,000 hours of care each week to its 660 clients. Astonishingly, that equates to around 11,000 visits each week. The question is how has it become so efficient without ever needing to compromise on high quality care?
“The answer,” says Charlotte Lumley, the agency’s Head of Community Innovation, “lies in technology.” Charlotte, who has worked in the care sector for 16 years in a variety of senior managerial positions, says that technology “is an enabler”, and is playing a vital role in helping solve recruitment, retention and compliance challenges.”
How? Well, take a domiciliary care worker’s compliance responsibilities, for instance. There are thousands of policies, procedures and protocols, all of which are constantly being updated, that they must stay on top of. The greatest hurdle for SMEs like Premier Care, who don’t have access to a large policy writing team, lies in accessing and implementing the right content necessary to deliver exceptional care.
Premier Care’s senior management team has solved the problem by partnering with Quality Compliance Systems (QCS) one of the UK’s largest compliance management providers.
Charlotte says, “It was an easy decision to make to be honest. Not only does QCS spend thousands of hours writing policies, it instantly notifies us whenever any regulation changes. We’re immediately sent the updated policy which means we never have to worry about compliance. That’s incredibly important to us, as are the additional expert insights provided by QCS around policy and procedure…”
Charlotte highlights complicated procedures such as Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) feeding, for instance. She says that QCS’s “belt and braces approach” has helped staff to approach these daunting tasks with renewed confidence.
She explains, “It’s not that QCS provides the actual PEG training. It does ensure a high level of quality assurance and gives our carers peace of mind that the procedures being employed are the right ones and are up-to-date. It also provides a comprehensive suite of post-training documents, plus a step-by-step training guide, which really helps to reinforce staff knowledge…”
Charlotte says that what sets QCS apart is “the flexibility it affords carers and managers”. She explains, “We work with three different local authorities, each of which employs their own safeguarding policy. By using QCS’s technology we can create different policies and procedures for each local authority area, knowing that the information is correct and up-to-date.”
Other benefits of the technology are the enhanced “accessibility and scalability” that the technology affords carers. Charlotte explains, “The QCS system works particularly well in domiciliary care, where staff are often on their own and working in remote areas. If they have a policy query while out on a visit, they can easily refer to the QCS app where policies are broken down into easily digestible chunks. This means they can focus on the relevant part of a particular policy or procedure as and when they need to.”
Finally, with Premier Care expanding its reach into South Yorkshire, Charlotte adds that the QCS’s compliance management system has proved invaluable when bidding for new contracts.
She says, “QCS forms an active part of the bidding process and it’s playing a key role in growing the business. When we’re writing tenders, for example, we’re often asked to provide specific information regarding protocol. For example, a typical question might be ‘what does our medication policy look like?’
She continues, “Local authorities want to be sure that we’re meeting legal frameworks and staff are well-versed in policies and procedure. QCS also provides us with an invaluable source of information and expert opinion, which makes our tender stronger. It also saves us time because the information we need for tender writing is easily accessible.”