News Opinion

The true value of mock CQC inspections

Paul Patarou, Head of Strategic Projects – Health and Social Care, Access Group

Being rated as Outstanding in CQC inspections is no easy feat. It requires hard work and commitment. Preparation is everything if your care services are to make the grade.

However, efforts shouldn’t be geared towards a single moment in time. It’s as much about what you do each day as it is about an impending inspection. Rigorous standards should be embedded within the organisation and be part of daily practice.

And this is where mock inspections or internal audits come in. They can help to highlight weak points in processes, care procedures and more. They focus attention. It encourages providers to take a deep dive into how services are run and to cast a critical eye over where changes need to be made.

It’s often best to make these changes in a bite-sized manner so that they’re easier to implement. Over time, incremental improvements add up, making a considerable difference to the business, staff and clients. But where do you start?

Structured process

To carry out a CQC-style audit requires structured systems and procedures – and technology is best placed to support this, making everything more manageable and robust. Having digital workflows that take you through each Key Question and Key Line of Enquiry means that you move through the steps in a methodical manner. After all, getting accurate ratings is the best indication of how well you’re really doing.

If you struggle with certain areas you can focus on those, such as care plans, medication, meal times, infection control, recruitment or health and safety. It means providers can pull off reports, review the evidence and action plans, then be proactive in fixing problems ahead of any CQC visit.

Sharing the insight throughout the organisation is also essential to implementing the changes. After all, audits and reports are only as good as the action that’s taken. Any training gaps can be addressed, more efficient processes put into place, new care planning software introduced, or any number of other concerns tackled and digitally tracked to ensure a successful outcome.

Positive feedback

A benefit of mock inspections is that it gets everyone used to the CQC process so that it becomes second nature. This should make it a much less arduous task when it comes to an official visit, building confidence amongst management and staff.

It also shows a commitment to continuous improvement in providing the best care for clients and a willingness to instigate change when needed. With technology underpinning the process, and particularly where it supports the day-to-day running of the organisation from the back office to care services, it’s often met with praise by local authorities and CQC inspectors.

Countywide Caring, for instance, was rated ‘Outstanding’ overall with the CQC report pinpointing the software they had in place which alerted them to late calls, helped to prevent missed visits, monitored care support to ensure client needs were met and provided relatives with access to information on their loved one’s care.

It highlights the importance that technology plays in helping to achieve the best outcome from the whole inspection process – not to mention the benefit to the clients and their families which is ultimately what matters. It’s also a positive experience for everyone who’s involved in care to have their hard work recognised. By regularly carry mock inspections, it can help to ensure that providers strive to deliver the highest level of care. And who knows, the next CQC inspection could very well lead to being rated Outstanding.

To learn how Access Group’s health and social care solutions can help you with compliance and CQC inspections, please visit: https://www.theaccessgroup.com/care-management/products/care-compliance/

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