Providers will have read with interest about the launch by the CQC of its Emergency Support Framework (ESF) on 1 May, headlined by Kate Terroni, the Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, proclaiming that:
“Now more than ever, safely remains a priority for the whole health and care system”.
Providers should not lose sight of the fact that, however it is presented, the ESF is effectively an inspection by telephone, with detailed technology behind it.
The process goes as follows – services will be contacted by the CQC, usually a few days before the official call itself, to arrange a telephone appointment with the manager. That call with the manager will cover:
- Safe care and treatment
- Staffing arrangements
- Protection from abuse
- Insurance processes, monitoring and risk management.
The presentation given by Ms Terroni and two of her senior colleagues at the CQC’s board meeting on 20 May, however, seems to suggest that the ESF is actually a forum for the targeting of inspections – for that reason, it is vital that providers ensure that the manager, or whichever other responsible individual has the telephone conversation with the CQC, is fully prepared and treats the telephone conversation as seriously as they would as a previously unannounced inspection.
We would recommend that there be somebody else present on the telephone call to take a contemporary note of this conversation. That note should then be typed up and emailed to the CQC as the provider’s own record of what was discussed. The CQC should be asked to immediately notify the provider if it disagrees with anything in the provider’s note.
Our understanding is that CQC will not itself be automatically be issuing services with its note of the conversation.
For details of the technology and what is actually behind the ESF, it is recommended that providers and managers read carefully the presentation made to the board meeting about the ESF. This is in the form of a PowerPoint presentation which appears here. It shows how the conversation is likely to be structured and how the information obtained during the course of it is likely to be shared with other authorities and agencies.
This is not a friendly telephone call to check how you are getting on. It is a virtual inspection and if you know that your service has problems, be prepared to disclose them.