04 Aug Social Care Providers – Key areas of focus for compliance
Social care providers are looking after the health and well-being of some of society’s most vulnerable people and their welfare is the primary function of care providers. Although the role of providers is simple enough to understand, achieving this care is another matter.
To make it even more challenging, the care sector is heavily regulated, with providers expected to be compliant across almost every part of daily life. Competing priorities, budget and staffing constraints, and the difficult nature of working with physically or mentally impaired individuals make this job extremely hard.
Compliance is vital because of the potential vulnerability of the individuals in care and is there for the protection of the service user, carers and staff, patients’ family, and the general public. There is guidance out there to help you, be it from the CQC (Care Quality Commission), HSE (Health & Safety Executive) or NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence), for example, but it’s sometimes the practical solutions that can help you best to manage.
Just keeping track of all the necessary paperwork required to manage a business is hard enough, but when you add on all the assessments, certificates, plans, policies and procedures required to achieve and maintain compliance, then having good document management controls in place becomes essential. Failing to update an insurance policy, misplacing proof of your latest safeguarding assessment, or forgetting to update your staff’s training, can all have serious repercussions for your business, and impact the lives of the service users in your care.
With our extensive experience in supporting social care providers in understanding, achieving and maintaining their compliance obligations, we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the key areas of focus for social care providers regarding compliance, to help you manage this complicated, yet vital, area of regulation.
Just like any business…
First – and just like any other business, your finances, accounts, insurance and HR records all need to be up to date and meeting your obligations to your staff, service users and partners. You’ll also want to stay on the right side of your business’s landlord, bank manager and tax office.
The CQC assesses health and social care providers in the UK, ensuring that the service they provide is fit for purpose, and as a provider it’s vital you understand what the CQC expects of you as an organisation, team and leader.
Your business reputation depends heavily on getting a good or outstanding rating from the CQC, so it’s important that you have kept records throughout the year to prove to CQC inspectors how your business has met its compliance expectations.
The CQC’s assessment framework is based on five Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs).
- Are service users safe from abuse and harm?
- Is the care delivered effective?
- Are the staff caring and compassionate?
- Are the services offered responsive to the needs of the individual user?
- Is the organisation well led?
You’ll need proof that you are compliant in all the above criteria. Examples of the kind of documentation you’ll require to maintain includes copies of your health and safety and fire risk assessments, proof of staff training and qualifications, DBS records for relevant staff, equipment maintenance records and legionella test results.
Accident and incident records, along with safeguarding investigations, need to be stored and can be used on inspection day to show how you have improved. Don’t forget to collate the good stories too, the compliments from your service users and their families, examples of good practice to prove what makes your service outstanding, and records of special projects or days out with your residents, along with photos, for example.
Safeguarding should be a top priority for any social care provider. Sadly, people in care are often physically or mentally impaired and in need of special care. This can put them at higher risk of abuse or neglect, be it from friends or family, staff working in your organisation or partner organisations, or even doctors, nurses or other health professionals.
As a care provider, it’s your job to protect your users’ right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.
There are many practical ways you can go about safeguarding patients in your care, and it’s crucial to document your every step to prove you have taken your responsibility seriously and highlight your compliance in this area.
Carrying out a thorough risk assessment of every new service user is a crucial first step. Encouraging a culture of openness among your staff is vital to ensuring your workers and users feel confident and protected. If there are any safeguarding allegations of incidents, the case should be investigated in an open and transparent way with all evidence carefully documented.
Allegations and complaints can be avoided in many cases by having simple plans and procedures in place, and by using them and keeping records. An example is that of financial transactions, where a service user may become forgetful and not recall having spent some money. Having a policy in place to manage how patients or residents spend money can safeguard everyone, including service users and staff, and save time and stress caused by false allegations.
It’s also important to review safeguarding incidents collectively, to identify trends and try to prevent more incidents in the future.
Health & Safety
All the usual health & safety regulations need to be met, potential hazards and risks must be assessed and controlled, but compliance considerations are often further complicated when taking into account the needs of individuals suffering from physical or cognitive impairments.
An example is when making fire risk assessments and emergency evacuation plans. Extra consideration needs to be made for those who are less mobile or less able to understand the risk of fire and how best to react in the case of fire.
The Covid pandemic has had an enormous impact on health and safety compliance within the health and social care sector too, with sanitation, ventilation and social distancing all becoming household words. Covid compliance, and the corresponding paperwork, has become complicated and compounded as a result too.
Managing the ordering, storing and administering of medicines is another very time-consuming but absolutely vital area of compliance within the social care sector. Being compliant and recording your management of medicines is important for both the protection of the service user and the staff who administer the drugs or have access to them.
The assessment and regular reviewing of a person’s medicines needs should be documented and joint working between the health and social care provider is often required at this point. Records must be accurate and up to date. Often patients or residents need help in taking their medicines.
The transporting, storing and disposing of medicines must all meet the demands of strict compliance regulations and often require that staff have specialist training, which should be recorded and updated as and when required.
Each individual in care
The requirements of each individual in care must also be taken into consideration, along with the corresponding implications for compliance.
For example, the creation of an Advanced Care Plan (ACP) for those who are suffering from dementia and are in care is a process which has been set out in steps. The steps and processes are clearly defined and set out to protect the person in care and help ensure that their wishes are adhered to. As a service provider, it’s vital that you prove you are compliant with the defined procedure.
Looking after adults and children in social care is incredibly challenging. The job is perhaps made even more testing by the enormous amount of legislation and regulation that a provider is obliged to adhere to. However, the regulations cannot be ignored. They are there to protect not only the service user, but also the staff and leaders of an organisation too.
Compliance demands on social care providers are immense and can sometimes be overwhelming. A huge number of reports, certificates, plans, assessments, and policies are required to keep your compliance documentation up to date. Practical solutions to help you manage your compliance documentation include using specially designed software, like KCS’s ComplianceManaged® portal, which can help you by storing all documents in one place and notify, remind and alert you as critical documents require action.
Contact the team at KCS Compliance Services to ask for a demonstration of how we can support your business.