Debbie Ivanova, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care updates on our managed return to inspection and how we are looking at Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) as part of this.

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In June we said that we were planning a managed return to inspection, after pausing our routine inspections back in March during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been carefully reviewing the situation as Covid-19 has progressed, using our Emergency Support Framework to monitor services, to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on staff and people using services and identify where we might need to inspect or escalate concerns to partners, as well as to support managers running the services.

In June we began scheduling inspections of higher risk services to take place over the summer and we have now completed a number inspections, which have been used to create the themes in our latest insight report. In this report we explore the need for providers and other organisations to collaborate to tackle COVID-19 and we also report on the concerns that have prompted us to carry out a number of inspections.

A small number of the concerns raised to us which promoted us to inspect services were around poor infection prevention and control (IPC), which was also reported as a reason for an increase in calls to our national contact centre in mid-June. I am sure that for all of you IPC is at the forefront of your minds when thinking about how we provide safe and effective care and this is therefore going to be a feature of our inspections over the coming months.

We want to identify and share best practice with you on IPC and will be learning from a sample of 300 care homes in August where our data indicates they have managed IPC well. This will include services who have had an outbreak and looking at how it was managed, alongside services that have remained COVID- 19 free. Our initial findings will be shared in our September COVID-19 Insight report, with a larger set of findings to be shared in the November edition.

We are developing a new IPC inspection tool, with questions and prompts, which will be used for this IPC review and on all upcoming inspections of care homes. This will be published on our website in the coming weeks and as we progress, we will explore how it can be adapted and used in other care services. The tool will help us to be assured that people are receiving care which is underpinned by safe, high quality IPC.

We are also covering IPC in the Provider Collaboration Reviews which are currently underway in 11 Integrated Care Systems and Sustainability and Transformation Partnership areas. These reviews will involve understanding the journey for people with and without coronavirus across health and social care providers. They will focus on the interface between health and adult social care for people aged over-65, because this population group has been particularly impacted by COVID-19.

We will talk to you more in the coming weeks and months about our managed return to inspection, to make sure that you are up to date on what will happen when we decide to visit you. You can also be assured that while we are looking at providers’ IPC, we are also taking the safety of our inspectors and their impact on your service incredibly seriously. This means making sure we keep them safe as well as people who are using services and the people taking care of them. Inspectors will be required to undertake a risk assessment before each visit and they have been trained to make effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is supplied to them. Our priority has and continues to be to keep people safe throughout the pandemic, and we want to assure you of this so that providers are not concerned about our inspection staff coming into their services.

We will be updating you in future blogs about the progress of our work, including the Provider Collaboration Reviews; how we are managing our return to inspection; and how we are assessing IPC when we are carrying our targeted and focused inspections. If you want to have your say on our work, including our Insight documents and our future strategy, don’t forget to sign up to our digital participation platform to share your thoughts.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

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