Care Quality Commission
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CQC says that the hospitals and care homes need to improve communication to prevent infections

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today (Monday) sets out its concerns around the lack of communication between care homes and hospitals in preventing infections passing between these two settings.

The CQC found that there was a need for hospitals and care homes to provide information about infections to each other to make sure that people with, or recovering from, an infection are cared for properly and to reduce the chances of other people being infected.

But the report highlights that this information is not provided in a coordinated way with 17% of the care homes participating in the study saying that they received no information on infections at all when people were discharged from a hospital to their care. Even when information was received, this could be weeks late, incomplete or illegible.

Other areas of concern included:

  • Almost 300 (28%) of surveyed care home managers raised concerns about illegible or incomplete discharge information, when people where discharged into their care from hospital.
  • Standard contracts used in the NHS specify that information on infections should be provided in writing in a discharge summary but the report revealed that the most common route for supplying information between hospitals and care homes was verbally.
  • Ambulance crews are often left out of the information loop, even though they could perform a vital role in both caring for people and transferring information about their care needs.
  • Care homes have not fully implemented national guidelines published in 2006 designed to prevent and control infections.

CQC also found examples of good practice but was concerned that care homes were not fully prepared and knowledgeable on the forthcoming regulatory changes that will affect the industry from October 2010 (1 April 2010 for all hospitals and healthcare settings). From that date all social care providers will be required to comply with the requirements of the Heath and Social Care Act 2008 in order to be registered. Part of these regulations will require that care homes meet similar requirements to hospitals in terms of infection prevention and control. This will include ensuring that hospitals and care homes work together and share information, staff are properly trained, and relevant guidelines are followed.

Cynthia Bower, CQC chief executive, said: “Infection prevention and control is not simply an issue for hospitals – care needs to be clean and safe wherever it is provided. If we are to tackle infections effectively we need to check that all providers of care, be they care homes, hospitals or ambulances are talking to each other about infections and following national guidelines to make sure that they are complying with the law and giving people the quality of care they deserve.

“Care homes and hospitals should make sure that they have good arrangements for joint working to ensure they are providing high quality, safe care. If we find that providers of care are not coming up to standard in this area, we will take action.”

Notes for editors

1. This study aimed to develop a better understanding of how the arrangements for preventing and controlling infections are working in practice at the interface between registered social care homes and hospitals.

2. The work was carried out between December 2008 and May 2009 and consisted of
qualitative case studies of 13 care homes, mapping how they interacted with healthcare and other social care providers and a quantitative, web and paper-based survey of over 1,000 care homes (a statistically significant sample of around 4% of all care homes in England).

Registration

  • The National Minimum Standards (for adult social care and independent healthcare) and the Standards for Better Health (for the NHS) are being replaced by new Registration Requirements - essential common quality standards.
  • From April 2010, all health and adult social care providers will be required by law to register with CQC and must show that they are meeting the new registration requirements.
  • Registration isn’t just about initial registration.  It encompasses initial registration, monitoring and checking of ongoing compliance, inspection and enforcement.

For further information please call James Hedges in the CQC press office on 0207 4480 868 or 07917 232 143 after hours.

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