How to stay ‘effective’ in a health pandemic

Ed Watkinson, a former care home inspector who consults for Quality Compliance Systems (QCS), explains how to run an ‘Effective’ service in a pandemic

If the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) ‘safe’ and ‘well-led’ key questions provide the bedrock of compliance on which a service is built, the ‘effective’ domain is the glue that binds it together. The CQC’s seven key lines of enquiry

(KLOEs), under the ‘Effective’ key question, are deliberately structured to test if a provider has a robust and resilient service delivery infrastructure in place. That includes areas such as

assessment of needs, staff skills and knowledge, how people work together for the benefit of the person using services, consent issues, the environment where people receive a service and what food and drink they are provided with. Yet in these unprecedented times,

Covid-19 is also leaving its mark on policy, procedure and best practice. Care providers are being inundated with information, which changes on a regular basis. Registered managers are expected to

make sense of it, turn it into policy and procedure, before filtering best practice through to the frontlines. However, here is the rub: with policy and procedures fluid and evolving, many care workers and their managers are wondering what best practice in the ‘effective’ key question looks like. As a former inspector, who has

assisted with the development of the inspection methodology and a consultant for QCS, I want to use this article, to try to shed some light on how providers can continue to deliver an ‘effective’ service in a lockdown.

Assessing needs etc. Let us start with the first KLOE. If I had to summarise it in one word, it would be ‘assessment’. It is not just about ensuring that your service is meeting the individual

In a pandemic, maintaining good lines of communication throughout a service is absolutely integral to ensure the delivery of outstanding care

June 2020 •

needs of each resident, it is also about demonstrating good governance and accountability. That means using industry-leading quality assessment tools to document, record and archive the process. Many registered managers still use

paper systems, which can be highly effective. However, in the Covid-19 pandemic, digital compliance management tools are becoming more and more popular. Why? Because they promote greater visibility than paper- based systems by allowing registered managers to see the bigger picture. In other words, they enable managers

to not only receive regular updates, but also mean they no longer rely on antiquated printing and distribution methods. Therefore, this technology can help shed light not just on a person’s


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