Tech for Care: Is regulation creating a barrier to social care innovation?


Adult social care inspectors, including those employed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), have been accused of creating a barrier to innovation and preventing the shift to digital.

Speaking at the Tech for Care conference in Manchester this week, directors from the Local Government Association (LGA) and Digital Social Care said care providers often tell them that inspectors prefer to see paper care records over electronic ones.

Mark Golledge, programme manager at LGA, said: “This has actually come up in quite a few forums, where providers say that inspectors will come out to them and say that they need to be seeing paper records, but actually that is preventing the shift to digital.”

Claire Sutton, Digital Transformation lead at Digital Social Care, said: “Care providers are all the time saying that inspectors are placing that barrier in front of them and it’s going to be a long journey in order to ensure that this doesn’t happen.”

Care providers in the Tech for Care audience asked speakers through a digital polling platform how the CQC plans to train inspectors to ensure they don’t see electronic care plans as a barrier to a fair inspection.

Answering the question, Katie Barton, senior designer of Strategy and Intelligence at the CQC said it drives her “absolutely to distraction” that providers are having to tell the regulator that inspectors aren’t happy with what they see when they view digital care records, adding that inspectors should “categorically not be insisting on seeing paper versions of electronic records”.

“We’re working on some draft guidance at the moment, which is going to be aimed at providers and our inspectors to basically set out what our expectations are around what good digital records look like,” she said.

“We’re also talking to our academy, which is the arm of our organisation that trains our inspectors, so if providers come to us and tell us what issues they are having, we can then begin to unpick them to make sure the inspectors know what they are doing when they come out on inspection.

“Inspectors are never going to be familiar with all the systems or experts on the system you are using, but what they should be saying to you, as providers, is ‘how does this system work?’ and ‘can you either give me the records that I am requesting, so I have the evidence that I need, or, can you show me how to use it?”

“Either way, [inspectors] shouldn’t be saying to you ‘I only want paper records’. Categorically they should not be saying that and they should not be insisting on paper versions of the records that you have if you are digital.”

Claire added that she wanted to echo that from what she has seen, “the conversation is open with the CQC”.

“The CQC are wanting to discuss [issues around digital social care] and they are wanting to hear from care providers and the wider sector as to how they can improve the way that they train their inspectors when regulating care that is using innovative solutions,” she said.

Caption: (L-R): Matthew Warne, GrandCare Systems; Jane Stevens and Chris Parr, Wigan Council; Nicky Parker, Manchester City Council; Katie Barton, CQC; Claire Sutton, Digital Social Care.


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