Care home quality assurance during COVID-19

Published in News on 13 Sep 2022

The COVID-19 crisis posed huge challenges to social care support in Scotland. There were complex and serious issues faced by care homes in supporting residents to live well during a time of life changing restrictions.

But how is improvement best supported during periods of acute crisis?

The Scottish Government asked us to explore this question and we undertook a thematic review of care home quality assurance materials from seventeen local authority areas in Scotland.

Today we publish a report of the findings which detail what each of the local authority areas learned about how care homes managed during the COVID-19 crisis; their approach to assurance and improvement; and areas of creative practice and development. 

Our review found that improvement is most likely to happen when assurance is:

  • Facilitative and co-produced
  • Collegiate and partnership-based
  • Focussed on what’s best for the person
  • Embraces the sometimes conflicting perspectives between health, social work and social care as a strength in balancing clinical and other risks for people who live in care homes

We found that improvement was held back by:

  • Framing assurance as ‘oversight’ or ‘inspection’ instead of support to improve
  • Cultures that don’t support learning, seek to blame and have difficulties handling failure
  • Overwhelm and distress among staff and leaders
  • Lack of clarity about the purpose of assurance activities and how they relate to other forms of improvement, inspection and oversight

Materials received from areas varied in type, depth and degree of analysis, so the findings and recommendations are indicative, rather than conclusive.

Read the full report

We would like to thank the Chief Social Work Officers (CSWOs) and HSCPs/local authorities who responded to our call for materials. This was during the height of the COVID-19 crisis and we recognise how hard it was to prioritise this when faced with the substantial service challenges at that time. 

Get in touch with Dee Fraser, CEO at Iriss, if you would like to discuss the review.