Following a period of delay, the CQC has announced an updated timeline for the rollout of its new assessment framework and online portal. What does the news mean for care providers?
Early last year, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced major changes to the framework it uses to regulate health and social care providers.
Following a pilot scheme with a small number of early adopters, the body had planned to begin a full rollout in 2023. However, the rollout was then delayed until “later in 2023”, to allow the body time to test its technology.
At the end of July, the CQC published a new update on its plans. What was announced, and what do care providers need to know?
The online portal
The CQC now intends to invite an initial group of care providers to access its new online portal in August, before rolling out access to all providers in September.
“The new portal will be key to the effectiveness strategies and new models of inspection against the new framework”, says Charlotte Rowe, Care Practice Manager at Markel Care Practitioners.
“For providers still using paper-based systems, it’s advisable to consider how these will interact with the new portal. Given the changes to evidence reviewing and collection methods, paper-based systems could put providers at a disadvantage in respect of evidencing good practice, regulatory compliance, and time expenditure in using the portal.”
The new framework
In November, the rollout of the new assessment framework will begin on a regional basis, starting with providers registered in the South of England: i.e. the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire. Other regions will continue to be assessed under the existing framework until the rollout reaches them.
“At MCP, we’ve been providing training and support around the implementation of the new framework and what strategies providers can use to transition smoothly, as well as updating Quality Assurance against the ‘we’ statements”, says Charlotte.
“It’s important to be prepared, so providers in the South of England that have not yet reviewed and considered the implications of the new framework need to take proactive steps as soon as possible.”
Staying up to date
According to the CQC, “the phased approach to assessments using the new framework, introducing the new provider portal and wider digital services, will continue into 2024.” It suggests signing up to its email bulletins to stay updated.
“It’s important that all providers who are regulated by the CQC – including those commissioned by Local Authority Adult Commissioning – keep up to date regarding the planned changes, the rollout, and the outcomes of any pilot schemes”, says Charlotte.
“Ensuring that managers and frontline workers are supported through these changes is key, as is reviewing any internal processes and documentation to marry with the proposed changes to the framework. Being prepared for the changes planned by the CQC will be key in maintaining and improving gradings in the coming months.”