Find out how the shared Network Quality Framework is shaping up at our upcoming webinar!

Join our free webinar on 25 November to find out how the shared Network Quality Framework is shaping up!

Over the past few months, the Age UK Quality team has been working with local and national partners to develop different aspects of the Age UK quality framework. The framework will apply to all members of the Age UK network (Age UK, national partners, and local partners) and its development is part of the joint Age UK / AEA quality review process which also feeds into the Services for Older People Committee (SOPC).

We will be holding a webinar from 10:00 – 11:30 on Thursday 25 November to provide a demo of the work that’s been developed by Communities of Interest over the summer; describe how they all fit together and into the quality framework; discuss next steps; and invite you to participate in further development and testing.

To sign up to the webinar, click here. We will send you joining instructions the week before the webinar.

To see more about the work that’s been taking place, visit our Quality Hub.

Information & Advice Quality Programme – common areas identified for improvement

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation Team have identified some common areas for improvement across the advice sector. Find the most recent trends below.

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation Team regularly review areas of compliance with the I&A Quality benchmarks, so that we can share learning across the network. We have found that the most common areas identified for improvement are similar to those identified across the independent advice sector as a whole and are important elements of quality assurance. Read on to view the most recent trends.

Most common areas of non-compliance for Quality of Advice

  • Lack of sufficient relevant information gathered to give correct advice
  • Insufficient advice recorded or incomplete advice given e.g. no means-tested benefits check when disability benefits awarded
  • Limited use of Factsheets and Information Guides to back up advice given
What can be done to avoid these?

Training in case-recording and/or the key Age UK topic areas of benefits and community care can help ensure your clients are getting the correct advice – further details can be found on the loop here.

Most common areas of non-compliance for Service Management

  1. Data Protection / Client confidentiality e.g. lack of consent or secure storage of client data
  2. Not recording sufficient client details for information enquiries (leading to under- reporting of work, clients needing to repeat their story on returning)
  3. Lack of Technical Supervision of advisors (usually of the Manager), including regular file checking to ensure accurate advice is given
  4. Lack of planning for a sustainable service
What can be done to avoid these?
  1. Ensure you have evidence of the clients’ consent to process their data, including to store it, share it with third parties, and share it with Age UK for quality audit. Ensure you record and date consent on the client record.

Please Note: legitimate interests as a basis for processing the data should not be used for special category data (i.e. personal sensitive data e.g. health, politics, ethnicity, religion). The ICO sets a higher bar for the way this data is handled, as it could create a higher risk of, for instance, unlawful discrimination. Consent is the best way to treat this type of data, as it is most transparent and simple.

The GDPR Toolkit on the loop can be found here.

  1. Ensure all staff providing I&A are aware of your procedures for recording information enquiries. This helps ensure the client does not have to keep repeating their “story”, and ensures you are not under-recording your work and reach. Enquiries should not routinely be recorded as “Anonymous” – only if consent is not given, or for very simple enquiries.
  2. Ensure you have procedures for both regularly checking the accuracy of advice and that your case management procedures are being followed, as well as the more in depth file reviews (IFRs) carried out less frequently. Ensure these include the advice carried out by the Supervisor or Manager). This is even more important when staff are working remotely or from home.
  3. Ensure the current year 12 month plan and budget is regularly reviewed. A short outline plan for the following 2 years is needed – it does not need to be in detail but should include an outline plan for a sustainable service.

COVID-19 – Guidance for Age UK Care Services

View the latest guidance for community care services.

Central Government guidance for community care services has not changed since 13/3/20. That guidance is here. Not all services are the same and all suggestions will not work for all services. Consider your local circumstances and how you will adopt and adapt. Let your local Social Services Department know what you are doing with regards to service changes. Talk to them about the possibilities of staff sharing with other agencies.

This guidance is aimed at local Age UKs providing care services to older people, but may be applied to many types of service where close contact and support is provided for older people in centres or in their own homes. Care Services include: Any service registered with the Care Quality Commission, Day Services, non-registered Foot Care services.

PPE for staff in regulated services 

This is in short supply at present. However, this message was released by DHSC on 18th March regarding the issue of PPE: 

 We know that supplies of personal protective equipment to the care sector is fundamental for the good care of individuals with suspected symptoms of Covid-19.   

We are clear that no wholesaler has been asked to prioritise NHS provision over the care sector nor should they be doing so.   

Free distribution of fluid repellent facemasks from the pandemic flu stock will start this today Wednesday 18th March, with every care home and homecare provider receiving at least 300 facemasks.  We anticipate the distribution will be complete by next Tuesday.   This is aimed at tiding over the initial rise in demand following the change of guidance on facemasks last week. Providers are not required to take action; the stock will be delivered to them.  

We are working rapidly with wholesalers to ensure a longer-term supply of all aspects of personal protective equipment, including gloves, aprons, facemasks and hand sanitiser.  For future PPE requirements, care providers should order PPE from their usual suppliers.   

If care providers have immediate concerns overs their supply of PPE, there is now a dedicated line for you, the health and social care sector.  

The National Supply Disruption line  

Tel: 0800 915 9964  

Email: supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk 

In the future, if a care provider is unable to get PPE from their normal supplier, the supplier is will be asked to report this to the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) team (as above), who can advise on alternative suppliers. [End] 

Staffing: The primary need is to protect your workforce, as without them there can be no care service for older people.  

  • If you haven’t already, plan to reduce the amount of travel your staff have to undertake to do their job. Can patches or routes be changed? 
  • Plan to reduce the number of different clients a single staff member sees in a day. How could this be done?  
  • Calculate the minimum number of care staff you could deliver a service with 
  • Consider how full PPE (aprons, masks, gloves and use of hand sanitiser) could be acquired (Age UK is trying to help with this and see above statement from DHSC) and how you will prioritise its issue once you have it 
  • Where possible issue full PPE to care staff before others 
  • Ensure staff apply rigorous infection control procedures, particularly washing of hands and surfaces 
  • Any member of staff showing symptoms or returning from a high risk country should be immediately removed from a service and told to self-isolate for 7 days 

Clients: Plan to prioritise service delivery to those who need it most.  

  • Client risk assessments and care plans need to be up to date 
  • Consider which clients have low needs and therefore could have a reduced or even suspended service so you can deploy your staff elsewhere 
  • Consider how you might be able to support some clients remotely, via telephone instead of face to face 
  • Consider your higher needs clients and how they will be cared for by a PPE protected workforce, particularly if they show symptoms 
  • If clients do show symptoms, could they be isolated and still receive a service? Even if it was just shopping 
  • Day services should consider closure, part closure (fewer days) or a reduction in service (e.g. only for those with higher needs or no family) 
  • Continuation of the service for people with no symptoms by staff with no symptoms is possible, but do you need to deploy them elsewhere to cover any off sick? 
  • Ensure full communication with families where relevant so that they understand your service’s situation and intent, particularly around any proposals to reduce the service level 
  • Understand how families may be able to help you with their relatives’ care and ask them to have clients at home where possible 
  • Consider the role of any recent micro-volunteers, where this could be risk free – think about DBS, GDPR issues 
  • If clients have symptoms, then ensure they use masks also, when receiving care – DHSC Guidance actually states that masks are not much use for protecting staff and are better used on clients 

Note there is no failsafe way for you to provide services and keep everybody healthy. One thing to consider in your planning is that staff who have contracted Covid-19 and then recovered fully, will be able to return to work normally with appropriate GP sign off.

COVID-19 – Guidance for Age UK Care Services

Please note: This guidance has been updated on Thursday 19th March. Please see the updated guidance here.

Central Government guidance for community care services has not changed since 13/3/20. That guidance is here.  Not all services are the same and all suggestions will not work for all services. Consider your local circumstances and how you will adopt and adapt. Let your local Social Services Department know what you are doing with regards to service changes. Talk to them about the possibilities of staff sharing with other agencies and of receiving PPE from their stocks.  

This guidance is aimed at local Age UKs providing care services to older people, but may be applied to many types of service where close contact and support is provided for older people in centres or in their own homes. Care Services include: Any service registered with the Care Quality Commission, Day Services, non-registered Foot Care services.

Staffing: The primary need is to protect your workforce, as without them there can be no care service for older people.  

  • If you haven’t already, plan to reduce the amount of travel your staff have to undertake to do their job. Can patches or routes be changed? 
  • Plan to reduce the number of different clients a single staff member sees in a day. How could this be done?  
  • Calculate the minimum number of care staff you could deliver a service with 
  • Consider how full PPE (aprons, masks, gloves and use of hand sanitiser) could be acquired (Age UK is trying to help with this and see above comment about LAs) and how you will prioritise its issue once you have it 
  • Where possible issue full PPE to care staff before others 
  • Ensure staff apply rigorous infection control procedures, particularly washing of hands and surfaces 
  • Any member of staff showing symptoms or returning from a high risk country should be immediately removed from a service and told to self-isolate for 7 days if they live alone and 14 days if they live with others 

Clients: Plan to prioritise service delivery to those who need it most.  

  • Client risk assessments and care plans need to be up to date 
  • Consider which clients have low needs and therefore could have a reduced or even suspended service so you can deploy your staff elsewhere 
  • Consider how you might be able to support some clients remotely, via telephone instead of face to face 
  • Consider your higher needs clients and how they will be cared for by a PPE protected workforce, particularly if they show symptoms 
  • If clients do show symptoms, could they be isolated and still receive a service? Even if it was just shopping 
  • Day services should consider closure, part closure (fewer days) or a reduction in service (e.g. only for those with higher needs or no family) 
  • Continuation of the service for people with no symptoms by staff with no symptoms is possible, but do you need to deploy them elsewhere to cover any off sick? 
  • Ensure full communication with families where relevant so that they understand your service’s situation and intent, particularly around any proposals to reduce the service level 
  • Understand how families may be able to help you with their relatives’ care and ask them to have clients at home where possible 
  • Consider the role of any recent micro-volunteers, where this could be risk free – think about DBS, GDPR issues 
  • If clients have symptoms, then ensure they use masks also, when receiving care – DHSC Guidance actually states that masks are not much use for protecting staff and are better used on clients 

Note there is no failsafe way for you to provide services and keep everybody healthy. One thing to consider is, that staff who have contracted Covid-19 and then recovered fully, will be able to return to work with appropriate GP sign off.   

Guidance for Age UK Care Services

This guidance is aimed at local Age UKs providing care services to older people, but may be applied to many types of service where close contact and support is provided for older people in centres or in their own homes. Care Services include: Any service registered with the Care Quality Commission, Day Services, non-registered Foot Care services.

Please note: This guidance has been updated on Thursday 19th March.

Please see the updated guidance here.

Central Government guidance states currently (11/3/20) that there is no need to change the way in which community or residential services are delivered. However, it is of course prudent to plan for the worst. All services are different and all suggestions will not work for all services. Consider your local circumstances and how you will adopt and adapt. Let your local Social Services Department know what you are doing with regards to service changes.  

Staffing: The primary need is to protect your workforce, as without them there can be no care service for older people.  

  • Plan to reduce the amount of travel your staff have to undertake to do their job. Can patches or routes be changed? 
  • Plan to reduce the number of different clients a single staff member sees in a day. How could this be done?  
  • Calculate the minimum number of care staff you could deliver a service with 
  • Consider how full PPE (aprons, masks, gloves and use of hand sanitiser) could be acquired (Age UK is trying to help with this) and how you will prioritise its issue once you have it 
  • Where possible issue full PPE to care staff before others 
  • Ensure staff apply rigorous infection control procedures, particularly washing of hands and surfaces 
  • Any member of staff showing symptoms or returning from a high risk country should be immediately removed from a service and told to self-isolate for 14 days 

Clients: Plan to prioritise service delivery to those who need it most.  

  • Client risk assessments and care plans need to be up to date 
  • Consider which clients have low needs and therefore could have a reduced or even suspended service 
  • Consider how you might be able to support some clients remotely, via telephone instead of face to face 
  • Consider your higher needs clients and how they will be cared for by a protected workforce 
  • If clients do show symptoms, could they be isolated and still receive a service? 
  • Day services should consider closure, part closure or a reduction in service (e.g. only for those with higher needs or no family) 
  • Ensure full communication with families where relevant so that they understand your service’s situation and intent, particularly around any proposals to reduce the service level 
  • Understand how families may be able to help you with their relatives’ care and ask them to have clients at home 
  • If clients have symptoms, then ensure they use masks also, when receiving care 

Note there is no failsafe way for you to provide services and keep everybody healthy. One thing to consider is, that staff who have contracted Covid-19 and then recovered fully, will be able to return to work with appropriate GP sign off.   

Shaping the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF)

This is your opportunity to get early access to a new resource that will help you monitor the quality of your services! Join our pilot to test and shape a new quality assurance framework that will help with continuous improvement and provide evidence for quality standards. We are looking for between 5 and 8 partners to work with us over a 4-5 month period (starting in January). Find out more in this article.

Over recent months, the Quality & Transformation Team has, in agreement with the AEA and SOPC, begun to develop the concept of a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) for the network. The aim of the QAF is to provide partners with a system that would enable them to monitor and measure real time quality data about their services and hold it all in one place. We also think it could help in co-ordinating our various strands of work on quality and want to explore how the QAF could provide a way for partners to gather data required for the CQS and IAQP too. This piece of work is therefore linking very closely to the CQS review process.

Over the past few years, partners have requested tools to help them demonstrate to funders / commissioners that they provide high quality services. They also want this assurance for themselves. Chief Officers have also told us they want more ‘real time’ information about quality in their organisation / its services so they can identify issues and flag key risks to trustees in a more timely way. The QAF aims to respond to these requests by providing partners with a way of capturing a broad-ranging quality dataset for their organisation which they’ll be able to see in real time. The vision is to provide a system whereby partners can see quality data for each service that they deliver and also make comparisons between their own services. It would also provide useful insight for different audiences – helping managers oversee their individual services; Chief Officers maintain oversight of all services delivered by the organisation; and giving a dashboard level view for trustees, to help them assess compliance and risks.

Age UK plans to co-produce the QAF with the network and will be running a pilot of the system, starting in January to coincide with the CQS review. Participation in the pilot will give partners early access to a new system that will help them gather and utilise their quality data effectively. It will also give the opportunity to shape how the emerging framework looks and works. We would like between 5 and 8 Brand Partners to work with us over a 4-5 month period to test and develop the system, as well as understand how it might link up with and relate to the Big Conversation. 

In the pilot, Brand Partners will be asked to comment on the data categories requested, their use and validity and the perceived benefits to their organisation from their collection / the challenges of collating and reporting these data sources. Partners will also be asked to feedback on the database, how well it works and suggestions for improvement. This feedback will be taken forward into a subsequent version of the QAF. The costs of participation to partners will be met by Age UK.  

If you would like your organisation to participate in the pilot, then please read through the QAF Pilot Briefing Paper below, check that you meet the criteria for participation and then if so, simply send an Expression of Interest to bsupportadmin@ageuk.org.uk . 

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 12 December 2019. We will respond to you on or before 20 December to let you know if your organisation has been successful. Please be aware we are only able to accept a maximum of 8 qualifying partners for this pilot. In the event of more than 8 partners qualifying, we will apply a secondary selection process. 

IAQP – congratulations!

Congratulations to all those who have successfully completed the I&A Quality Programme (IAQP) and been awarded their certificates since our last update in June!

  • Age UK North Craven
  • Age UK Redbridge, Barking & Havering
  • Age UK Northumberland
  • Age UK Stockport
  • Age UK Ashford
  • Age Cymru West Glamorgan
  • Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington
  • Age UK Bristol
  • Age UK Bath & North East Somerset

There are currently 70 Age UK services who have completed the Quality Programme, and 27 are currently going through the assessment. Many more are working on their renewal (every 3 years) and preparing to go through for the first time in the next few months.
Our assessors have found examples of brilliant work, by volunteers, I&A Managers, and Chief Officers, who are all involved in ensuring high quality I&A is provided.  

Local Service Managers find it useful to see an independent assessment of what they do well:
‘It has definitely resulted in a better and more accountable service for our clients’

To share tips on best practice:
‘A result of going through the programme is “Improved use of Charitylog”’

Usually, not all the benchmarks are fully evidenced in a first assessment, but there is an opportunity to implement recommendations and gain certification within a few months.
‘We reshaped our service – it has positively impacted upon both our customer base and other internal services.’

We are piloting a version of the programme aimed at demonstrating and improving quality of information and signposting / referral services (ISQP). Please contact iaqp@ageuk.org.uk for more information.

CQS certification – congratulations!

Congratulations to the following partners who have recently been awarded CQS certification:

  • Age UK Berkshire
  • Age UK Birmingham
  • Age UK County Durham
  • Age UK Faversham & Sittingbourne
  • Age UK Hounslow
  • Age UK Lincoln & South Lincolnshire
  • Age UK Lindsey
  • Age UK London
  • Age UK Malvern & District
  • Age UK Torbay
  • Age UK Westminster
  • Age UK Worcester & District

As the end of the current CQS assessment cycle fast approaches, Age UK and the AEA Executive Committee have agreed to start a review process to identify any changes needed prior to starting the next assessment cycle in autumn 2020. There are many ways for partners to participate in the review process – find out more in this post.

Age UK Quality Standards – help us shape the next assessment cycle!

Age UK and the AEA have agreed to start a review process to identify any changes needed for the next assessment cycle. There are many ways for you to participate in the review process. Read on to find out more!

As the end of the current CQS assessment cycle fast approaches, Age UK and the AEA Executive Committee have agreed to start a review process to identify any changes needed prior to starting the next assessment cycle in autumn 2020. 

The review process will be led by a joint Age UK / AEA steering group and start in January 2020. The review will provide an opportunity to:

  • Reflect on the learning from this current cycle – your experience of the assessment process and how effective it’s been. 
  • Explore ideas that you’ve shared on evolving the standards e.g. focus more on continuous improvement; provide more ‘real time’ quality data about your organisations; co-ordinate our various quality initiatives more effectively to prevent duplication.
  • Align with the development of a shared strategy through the Big Conversation so our shared standards can help meet our collective needs and ambitions as a network.

We encourage you to share your views and participate at each stage of the review process and there are different ways to do this:

  • Be part of the review group. This group will meet on 3 – 4 occasions between January and July 2020 for approx. 3 hours each time, with e-mail interaction between meetings. We’re looking for 3 – 4 people to join us.
  • Be a ‘critical friend’. If you want to be involved in the review group discussions and don’t have time to participate in meetings, share your thoughts and ideas via e-mail through our ‘critical friends network’. 
  • Look out for our ongoing communications in Signpost for updates on the review process and opportunities to feed in your views. 
  • Be part of the discussion at regional meetings. 
  • Arrange a call or visit with Heather Stephenson to share your thoughts and ideas – either on a one to one basis or for a group of partners.

To find out more and get involved, please contact Heather Stephenson on heather.stephenson@ageuk.org.uk.