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Managing social care provider quality remotely during the pandemic

When the country first went into lockdown back in March 2020, it’s unlikely many people expected to still be operating remotely nearly a year on.

When the country first went into lockdown back in March 2020, it’s unlikely many people expected to still be operating remotely nearly a year on.  During the original height of the pandemic some non-critical tasks had to take a back seat but, as time has gone on, it has become clear that we need to adapt to the current limitations. 

An important part of a council’s social care responsibility is to ensure quality provision for local citizens and assessing their providers is a vital part of this process. Without the ability to visit premises and audit services in person, councils have looked for other ways to carry out this important task. 

The PAMMS (Provider Assessment & Market Management Solution) Quality Assurance module offers a collaborative way to approach provider assessments and has been transformed during the pandemic to allow remote self-assessment, backed up with tangible evidence to support scores given. It has allowed councils to work in partnership with their providers to audit quality without having to undertake a site visit.

Two councils which have already adopted the technology to allow quality to be assessed remotely - the London Borough of Hounslow and Central Bedfordshire Council - have given us their feedback on how it is helping them adapt during this time:

Anil Nair from the London Borough of Hounslow explains the blended approach PAMMS Quality Assurance is helping him achieve.

Anil said: “Assessing provider quality is important for auditing and safeguarding. Relationships with providers are now stronger than ever and we want to work with them to support the assessment process. I arrange a call with them before I send the self-assessment link, I speak to them during the process and once it’s submitted we have another call to discuss the response, which allows me to validate their answers. If a provider has rated themselves overly harshly, or perhaps too leniently, we can discuss their evidence and amend where necessary. 

“The PAMMS self-assessment is very useful for smaller providers who don’t have the benefit of an internal audit team as they get to look at their processes in a different way. Like any new system it’s a work in progress, but it has been effective in continuing our dialogue with providers and evidencing the quality of care being delivered. Even when we are able to make site visits again the self-assessment process will be a useful baseline for discussions and will highlight areas to focus on.”

Ranjit Gill, contract officer at Central Bedfordshire Council shared their approach during this time. 

She said: “Our care providers had previously undertaken assessment utilising the PAMMS Quality Assurance process and have found this useful over a number of years. During the pandemic we have moved to the self-assessment and initial findings suggest that providers have seen this as a positive experience. We have always worked collaboratively with our Care Market and offered support. The self-assessment has been a learning curve and the system has a built in ‘help’ facility which is useful.  Working with our care providers to help them understand the evidence against their ratings has been insightful. 

"Providers have commented that they have found the way the assessment framework breaks things down gives them a different perspective on how they measure themselves. This way of quality monitoring during the current challenges has helped to keep the market stable whilst still allowing us to monitor quality and provide appropriate support where necessary. We are continuing to roll out the self-assessments”.

Ben Chance, Head of PAMMS is seeing increased interest in the self-assessment approach. He said: “Contract management and assessing provider quality still needs to take place and with the continued restrictions and need for social-distancing, more councils are looking at new ways to do this. The transition of our Quality Assurance solution to allow remotely undertaken self-assessments supports the collaborative approach between councils and providers which has been strengthened during the pandemic.”

For more information about how PAMMS has adapted during the pandemic and can support you during the current challenges, please visit https://www.hastechnology.com/pamms-covid-19