The CQC recently sought responses from providers and professionals working in the health and social care sector on what workforce well-being looks like to them. The consultation reflects an intention on the part of the regulator to scrutinise this issue more clearly.

As part of their new single assessment framework, the CQC will utilise a number of 'we statements' in order to determine ratings; these we statements are quality statements representing the standards expected of care providers. One such quality statement focuses on workforce well-being and enablement, detailing:

“We care about and promote the well-being of our staff, and we support and enable them to always deliver person-centred care”.

The inclusion of this 'we statement', as well as the release of the CQC’s recent survey, is yet further evidence of the increasing focus of regulators, and wider society, on workforce wellbeing and mental (as well as physical) health. We have released numerous blogs over the last year commenting on this, and the approach and guidance released by the Health and Safety Executive (see for example here).

After the pressures the Covid-19 pandemic placed on those working in the social care sector, and the issues being faced by the sector in terms of recruitment and retention, it does not appear surprising that the CQC has chosen to include the 'we statement' related to workforce wellbeing. There will no doubt be questions however as to how the CQC will be able to assess providers in respect of this statement in a clear, consistent and fair manner (particularly given workforce wellbeing is also impacted by factors outside of providers’ hands such as the funding from commissioners, which has a knock-on impact for wages).

Care providers will need to understand the main causes of stress to their staff and implement key policies to try to minimise these stressors. Examples include:

Ensuring suitable and sufficient training – A lack of suitable training can leave staff feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet the increasing demands of their role. Quality training provides staff with the correct skills and tools to perform their duties, increasing confidence and thus well-being.

Ensuring support is in place for staff dealing with challenging circumstances – Recognising the difficult circumstances staff members may face, and having support available (such as regular one-to-ones or access to occupational health services) is key to creating an open and supportive environment.

Shift patterns – Ensuring that, so far as reasonably practicable, shift patterns are not to staff detriment and sufficient accommodations are made where needed e.g. allowing for child care commitments etc.

As well as implementing measures to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and wellbeing of their staff, given our reservations discussed above and more widely in respect of the CQC’s new approach, providers will also need to ensure they can demonstrate the steps they have taken and have a way to monitor/quantify wellbeing (e.g. staff surveys) so that evidence can be presented to the CQC where needed.

For more information, please contact a member of the regulatory team.