Care homes at risk of prosecution if they fall foul of Covid-19 infection control checks

Care home operators are “under pressure like never before” trying to meet the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has resumed its regular rating inspections as well as separate infection prevention and control inspections.

Failure to meet the requirements of the infection prevention and control inspections could, in the most serious cases, lead to a care home owner or operator being prosecuted.

The rigorous inspections scrutinise a range of areas including use of PPE, testing, the safety of premises and visitor and shielding protocols and admission procedures for new residents.

Maxine Parry, Regional Director of Caresolve, one of the UK’s leading care home consultancies, said: “The CQC or local authority can turn up at a home without any warning to check on measures and whether they are robust enough.

“Some homes have already been pulled up because they hadn’t put the correct procedures in place for infection control.

“There are so many important aspects for operators and managers to think about. One of the biggest areas is around PPE and whether the equipment chosen is properly certified. Staff need to evidence that they are coming into work in their own clothes before getting changed, while daily temperature checks also need to be conducted.

“Smaller operators are under the greatest pressure as they often don’t have the resources they need or up-to-date policies and procedures and guidance around Covid-19.

“The implications of being found to be in breach of infection control are severe especially if operators could be seen to be wilfully neglecting their infection control and putting residents and staff at an increased Covid-19 risk. Should people die as a result, they could be open to prosecution.”

Alongside the challenges of keeping a care home safe, operators face escalating financial pressures.

Maxine said: “Good financial management has to go hand in hand with good infection control management.

“The pandemic has put significant financial pressures on many homes. Even allowing for Government support, homes are facing increased costs in many areas.

“If Covid-19 gets into a home and staff must isolate, there is a need to pay for agency cover. You also need to ensure that agency staff are not also working in other homes. Contingency planning around staffing and PPE is vital.

“We have seen from cases during recent months that it is 90% luck if Covid-19 doesn’t get into a home. You can put the best possible measures in place and tick every box, but the nature of the virus means you are still at risk.

“But an operator gives themselves the best chance of avoiding a serious issue by ensuring they have put all the right policies and procedures in place.

“Caresolve has been working with several operators throughout the crisis, giving them the practical advice and peace of mind that they are doing everything they can to stay on top of Covid-19.

“We keep homes informed and up to date with the latest guidance and ensure best practice has been implemented when we go into homes to support them. In some cases, we are providing hands-on management in the home.

“In one instance, the manager and both deputies had to isolate at the same time.

“A lot of care home owners and operators are extremely stressed as the pressure on them is immense.

“We have had providers telling us they couldn’t have coped without our support.”

Caresolve was established in 2011 by experienced care sector professionals Ben Challinor and James Parkin. Richard Shore joined as Finance Director in 2016.

The company provides strategic and operational support to care home operators and their investors including undertaking management contracts. The team also has extensive experience in achieving the successful turnaround of numerous care homes.

Caresolve also has a dedicated financial arm, Caresolve Financial, headed up by Richard Shore, providing financial reviews and management services and Finance Director support.