We sometimes use phone and video calls and other types of remote technology to carry out inspections. This means we may not need to visit your service in person.
We only use this type of inspection for home care (domiciliary care) companies and extra care housing services. We will not use this approach for shared lives or supported living services.
The main difference between this approach and our usual inspections is that we do not visit your office. Apart from this, these inspections work the same way as our standard targeted, focused or comprehensive inspections.
The inspector will look at each provider individually to see what type of inspection is appropriate. You cannot request to have an earlier inspection using remote technology. If you would prefer not to have an inspection using remote technology, you can talk to your inspector about it.
It's important to understand that this type of inspection can still result in a change to a rating.
How to submit information to us
Our inspector will talk to you about the options for how to share information with us. They will do this at the start of the inspection or during a planning call.
Ways to share information include:
- by secure email
- by screen sharing over a video call
- using a secure portal (SFTP)
We prefer to use the secure portal. If we use this method, our inspector can set up an account for you and show you how it works.
If you have any technical problems, it's important to let your inspector know as early as possible. They may decide to visit your service in person instead.
How long the inspection takes
An inspection using remote technology is more flexible for you and the inspector. It should take about the same time as a standard inspection.
We aim to work within the following timescales:
- five working days to gather evidence
- two weeks to produce the draft report
How we talk to staff and people who use the service
When we inspect using remote technology, we:
- use phone and video calls to speak to the manager and other staff
- use email, phone and video calls to contact people who use the service and get their consent - we'll discuss this with you in advance
- encourage you to ask people that use your service to give feedback about their care through our online form.
What happens after the inspection
At the end of the inspection, the inspector will send you their feedback by email. They will discuss this with the manager or provider by phone or video call. This will happen within five working days after we have finished gathering evidence.
You will have the opportunity to comment on the draft report following the usual factual accuracy process. We will then publish the report and rating on our website, which will make clear that we did not carry out a site visit.
Why we use this way of inspecting
We carried out a pilot in late 2020. This helped us to test the benefits of using remote technology. It assured us this that the approach was an effective way of assessing performance.
We consulted on the roll-out of the approach in January 2021.
Our use of the word 'inspection' in this context
For the time being, we are referring to these as 'inspections'. They are actually 'performance reviews' as set out in our duties under section 46 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (the Act). As well as our duties under section 46, we have a power to inspect under section 60 of the Act. This power specifically relates to the use of site visits, so 'inspection' legally means using a site visit to gather evidence.
We think 'inspection' makes more sense to the public than 'reviews', so we will keep this language for now.