Financial worries and Covid taking its toll, CQC insight report finds

Kate Terroni appointed as chief inspector of adult social care
Kate Terroni, chief inspector for adult social care at the CQC

Registered managers of adult social care services are suffering from burn out and extreme anxiety due to multiple deaths in settings and financial worries.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection teams are dealing with an increase in care home managers suffering from distress, with inspectors liaising with them to offer support and advice, the regulator said in an insight report.

The 29-page document found morale to be low in the sector, with staff feeling ‘undervalued’ compared with their healthcare counterparts.

Focusing on adult social care, the report reviewed data on staff absences, outbreaks, deaths and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the impact of Covid-19 on staff wellbeing and the financial viability of services.

It is the first of a series of insight documents intended to highlight Covid-related pressures on sectors that CQC regulates.

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Concern over the viability of providers has been raised by organisations, including the United Kingdom Homecare Association and the National Care Association, in the past few weeks.

In March a market oversight report to the CQC board highlighted the financial fragility of the care sector.

The insight document said: ‘We said then that, in the absence of mitigating action, any further shocks to the labour market would be expected to increase the existing level of market fragility, place more pressure on local authority finances and possibly increase unmet care needs.

‘The troubling financial reality for some providers is that they may now face a shortfall in people using their services due to increased deaths and not being able to admit new admissions. Also, some providers are struggling financially with the cost of PPE, including having to pay inflated costs to source what they desperately need.’

Kate Terroni, CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said there were excellent examples of ‘good joined-up care’ between health and social care professionals. ‘However, some providers are telling us that community health support has been reduced as the coronavirus response has resulted in resources being diverted elsewhere,’ she said.

‘As acute services start to move towards a more stable position, the community health offer – both to care homes and people who have care and support needs met in their own homes – must be a priority.

‘It is critical that the right focus is placed on social care to ensure that those on the front line get the assistance they need to protect the people they care for. We’ve seen what can be achieved and the impact that this has on people’s care – the challenge now is to make sure it is achieved consistently.’

The report also highlighted concerns over insurance companies informing providers that if they knowingly took in Covid-19 positive patients they would be in breach of their policy, while some operators needing to renew their policies had been unable to do so.

‘There is a risk that they may have to move residents elsewhere if this can’t be found,’ the report said.

On Wednesday, during a LaingBuisson webinar on liability, Philip Dearne, healthcare practice lead at risk advisory and insurance broking firm Marsh, said insurers had started restricting products and reviewing premium costs, with some suggesting price increases of as much as 50%.

The webinar is available here.