Monthly column for providers and professionals working in adult social care from Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care.

The change in weather in September is a reminder to us all to ensure that we’re as ready as we can be for winter, including continued involvement in your local communities and health systems with winter planning and ensuring all staff who are eligible have had their flu jab.

In previous columns I have talked about innovation and technology, and how technology can enhance people’s lives when used in the right way. In this month’s column I would like to share with you some of my more in-depth thoughts on the topic.

Since joining CQC I have been shadowing inspections as often as I can and recently I have seen more and more providers using electronic care plans. This means that their care staff have all of the information they need to deliver safe, effective, person-centred care at the touch of a button. Speaking with carers I have found that this technology means they can spend more time with the people they support and less time doing paperwork — a welcome benefit of technology. Providers have also told me about their frustrations with the way some inspectors use electronic care plans during inspections. In response to this, we are planning to co-produce with providers and inspectors, a short piece of guidance on how inspectors should use electronic care plans during inspections, which we hope to publish it early next year.

Speaking with carers I have found that this technology means they can spend more time with the people they support and less time doing paperwork.

In June we published the latest resource in our Driving Improvement series, which looks at a number of case studies where providers have used technology to improve the quality of life for the people they care for. The resource shines a light on examples where technology is being used to provide solutions to the problems facing the health and social care sector. I hope to continue to build on the success of the Driving Improvement series and include more examples of technology being used in new and innovative ways in adult social care. Please share with us in the comments below what you are doing and how it is improving outcomes for the people you support.

Innovation is not just about using technology though, and many providers are trying new ways of working to provide more efficient care. We are all operating in a time of uncertainty and financial limitations, requiring us to be creative and forward thinking in order to adapt to the changing environment, whether that be creating a new way of writing care plans to collaborating with your local partners in health and the voluntary sector to deliver more joined up care. As our social care providers develop new ways to deliver care, we at CQC are very keen that we do not stifle this innovation, as long as things are tried in collaboration with people who receive care and are safe.

There are also many businesses — and people — in the sector that are providing care or assistance in innovative ways that do not fall in CQC’s regulatory scope. For example, there are companies who help personal assistants link up with people who have care and support needs. We are interested in working with some of these companies to consider what, if any, regulation should be in place for the services they offer. If you provide such care and are interested in shaping our thinking about regulation of these ‘matching agencies’ please comment below so that we can get in touch with you.

Innovation is not just about using technology though, and many providers are trying new ways of working to provide more efficient care.

I have always found that coproduction is an excellent way to innovate, as often people with lived experience, their carers and providers have a different way at looking at the issue we’re trying to resolve. This month I co-chaired my second coproduction meeting at CQC — alongside Karolina Gerlich, CEO of the National Association of Care and Support Workers — which was an excellent day. Seeing people from so many different parts of the sector coming together to discuss projects that we’re working on at CQC and share their views is one of my favourite parts of the job. Getting the views of public and provider representatives is crucial to the work we do at CQC, and I’m sure we will be talking to your more about innovation and technology soon.

I hope that the next month treats you well and I look forward to writing to you in October about what the autumn has brought so far.