Going Digital supports Quality Assurance
In the UK, a very obvious benchmark with regards to ensuring the best possible care service has to do with CQC and their Key Lines of Enquiry. All providers are responsible for setting a professional standard that lives up to these guidelines, “Inadequate” in the worst case, best case being “Outstanding” once inspected.
In practice, the care groups are “self-policing”, wanting to make sure they accomplish those goals outlined in their last inspection report, not to mention an aim to attract new clients and qualified workforce through compliance with the 5 lines of enquiry in force.
Here digitisation plays an increasingly important role, as a supporting tool for care staff members and in the quality assurance helping to streamline every aspect of care delivery.
Digitisation: An (in)direct streamlining
Looking at these 5 indicators, they are quite palpable and it is relatively straight-forward to imagine, respectively, how a digitally supported universe can help, and how to manage a jump from a paper-pen office towards a more digital platform.
The “close to home” communication, planning and documentation can place the residents’ needs and profile at the centre of attention, involving individual preferences directly in the care.
Overall going from time-stamped administration to being person-centred and context driven, down to the single care delivery item, e.g. when a resident is unable to express a wish or need, but still knows exactly how breakfast should be served or what channel the TV should tune in on. This way of initiating residents in their own care plans paves the way for a much thriving care home environment, attractive to both residents and staff.
There are five questions that inspections are concerned with. They're at the true basics of regulation making sure that services are up for the task:
- Are they safe? Residents are protected from abuse and avoidable harm.
- Are they effective? Residents’ care, treatment and support achieves good outcomes, helping to maintain quality of life, based on the best available evidence.
- Are they caring? Staff involve and treat residents with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.
- Are they responsive to people's needs? Services are organised so that they meet residents’ needs.
- Are they well-led? The leadership, management and governance of the organisation make sure it's providing high-quality care that's based around residents’ individual needs, that it encourages learning and innovation, and that it promotes an open and fair culture.
What are the consequences of bad methods
Looking at exceptions to the care plan, be it mere observations or actual incidents, where errors are made, one pattern is very apparent: Quality assurance first takes place once the incident has taken place, and we are forced to explain how. With regards to this, it is worth mentioning that the reporting of errors only adds slightly to improvements in quality, at the same time doing nothing to prevent it from happening again.
Hereby the care service is in fact still staking the 2nd key question regarding residents’ safety. A more sustainable way forward, is a regular change in the work routines that led to the error in question. Once focusing on and addressing these routines in a digital platform, the personal errors slowly disappear, the responsibility of safeguarding spreads out from the single care staffs’ shoulders to the organisational umbrella and the clear common thread of care quality compliance.
SCIE, along with Skills for Care, has prepared a format for incident reporting that can be used for training and improving incident reporting.
The main focus is on quality assurance measures and how these are implemented in every care home to ensure that care staff are well prepared in all aspects of caregiving.