The aim of social care is to improve, or maintain, the quality of peoples’ lives, and their wellbeing, by providing quality of care that meets their needs and requirements. To learn and understand how successful a social care service is it needs to carry out audits of its performance.
Managers and staff of care homes, domiciliary care and supported living services are required by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 17 to have effective governance, including assurance and auditing systems or processes. “To meet this regulation, providers must have effective governance, including assurance and auditing systems or processes. Providers must continually evaluate and seek to improve their governance and auditing practice.”
My aim in writing this article is to help managers and staff of care homes, domiciliary care and supported living services to gain an understanding and purpose of auditing and its importance in achieving a quality service and compliance with regulations.
Defining what is auditing
The term ‘audit’ has been derived from the Latin term ‘audire’ which means ‘to hear. The International Standards Organisation describes an ISO 9001 audit as a systematic, independent, objective and documented process for gathering facts. Auditing then will help a social care service to identify any shortfall in the service, and areas for improvement.
What is the purpose of auditing
The purpose of auditing internally is to provide an insight for staff and managers of care homes, domiciliary care and supported living services to learn how well the service is performing. To ensure that staff are following policies and procedures and confirming they are operating as intended and therefore complying with the requirements of the Care Quality Commission and meeting the needs of people who use the service.
Quality Management System (policies and procedures)
Policies and procedures are the method used by a social care services to document and communicating to staff instructions and tasks involved in the achievement of management’s vision of a quality service and compliance to CQC and other regulators standards.
Processes are the series of steps, or activities that are carried out to deliver care that is safe and meets people’s needs.
A procedure is specified way of how to carry out an activity or a process.
A process is a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs.
Normally displayed in a flow diagram.
A quality management system audit is designed to evaluate and determine the services conformance to policies, procedures, processes, contract commitments, and regulatory requirements.
The Bettal Cared4 Quality Management System (QMS)
Provides the framework to ensure that staff carry out policies, procedures and processes in a sequential and systematic manner. Procedures laid out sequentially that make them easier to audit.
The system includes all the tools a service needs to carry out an audit.
A quality management system can be deemed effective where auditing results show:
• Policies and procedures are delivering people’s expectations of a quality service and customer satisfaction. • Root causes of problems where the intentions of a policy or procedure are not being met. • Corrective actions that have been taken and where improvements to the service can be made. • That the service is complying to CQC and other regulators standards
Why is auditing important:
• It is important for managers, staff, people who use the service and regulators to know that policies and procedures that direct the service are operating as intended. • Audit reports provide written evidence of the services performance and compliance to standards to staff and people who use the service. • Auditing provides evidence to CQC Inspectors and Local Authority Commissioners that the service is committed to quality and meeting CQC and Local Authority Standards. • Corrective actions that address any non-conformances in policies, procedures or processes identified during an audit, demonstrate a willingness by the service to put things right and a commitment to improvement.
Audits are an essential and important measuring tool that brings huge benefits to managers of care homes, domiciliary care and supported living services. Auditing is an evaluation of a services performance and provides managers with information on whether the services QMS policies and procedure are working as intended.
Auditing should become an integral part of care homes, domiciliary care and supported living services. In doing so it ensures that standards and service user needs, and expectations continue to be met.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy
Should you be interested in a quality management system that includes CQC compliant policies and procedures then please contact me.
If you wish to discuss, please connect with me on LinkedIn.