On 10 February 2022, the CQC published a statement in response to the guidance published by the Department of Health and Social Care (“DHSC”) which lifts visiting restrictions in care homes.
In the statement, the CQC explained that its expectation remains that care homes follow the latest Government guidance which is now to ensure that visiting is unrestricted. The CQC acknowledged that the majority of providers are making every effort to follow the latest guidance and stated that if something changes and the provider is no longer able to do this, they should speak with their CQC inspector as soon as possible.
The CQC stated that, “From 1 December 2021 we have received visiting concerns regarding 189 services, of which 82 were allegations of blanket bans. We have reviewed every concern raised with us and taken action where needed, including following up with providers, inspecting, raising safeguarding alerts where applicable and following up with local authorities.”
The CQC reiterated in the statement that its regulatory approach is risk based and that it continues to monitor providers where it has information regarding concerns about visiting restrictions. The CQC stated that where visiting concerns are identified, it has introduced a process to rigorously review evidence so that swift and appropriate regulatory and enforcement action is taken to ensure people are supported to have visitors.
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC said:
“The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on many people and we know it has been particularly difficult for those who are living in care homes and their families and loved ones. It is so important that people are able to spend crucial time with the people they love.
We have taken decisive action throughout the pandemic to help keep people safe in care settings including undertaking over 12,000 inspections, and making absolutely clear to providers that not following government guidance is unacceptable and may trigger an inspection. Where concerns have been raised with us in relation to visiting we have, taken a range of action, including following up with providers, inspecting, taking regulatory action and where applicable, raising safeguarding alerts with local authorities.
We continue to seek assurances from care home providers about how they are supporting visiting to happen and we are verifying this information when we go out and inspect and will continue to do so. We have introduced a mandatory question on each of our care home inspections which looks at how visiting is being supported to happen in a safe way.”
The CQC also stated that it has expanded its Infection, Prevention and Control (“IPC”) inspections to gather information on visiting practices, and we have increased the number of IPC inspections over the winter months.
The CQC said that as part of its updated monitoring approach, it asks providers how they are facilitating visits to people living at the home in accordance with current care home visiting guidance, or where this is not possible, what the reasons are for this, and how they are enabling other forms of contact.