The importance of Policies and Procedures
Policies and procedures don’t have to be daunting. They are essentially the foundation of a well-run care and support service, providing guidance and instructions for staff to follow to ensure the values of the organisation are upheld. Policies and procedures enable staff at all levels to follow best practice in all care, support and management tasks and give them the confidence to make the necessary reports when required. This is why it is so important that your policies and procedures are well written, up to date and easy to follow. There are a wealth of documents that your staff will need to read and understand during their induction program and giving them hundreds of documents that are hard to comprehend will make it more difficult in preparing them for the ever important responsibility of providing safe and high quality care and support. Ongoing, you will need assurances that staff keep up to date on any changes within policies and procedures and can implement them in to daily practice right away. Your staff will need to be fully inducted and have a clear understanding in areas such as safeguarding, health and safety, the organisation’s operations and human resources, COVID-19 and infection control, care planning and delivery, quality assurance and documentation processes, etc. Best practice and regulations in these areas change regularly and as we saw with COVID-19, guidance can change from week to week which all needs translating back to your care team.
How can they help new team members?
Many Registered Managers would have worked their way up into their current position and may recall being a care and support worker themselves, going through the induction process and having to get to grips with the information and responsibilities presented to them in the form of policies, procedures and other types of documents. For a person who is coming into the social care sector for the first time, the whole process can be very overwhelming, as society’s’ idea of a ‘carer’ is completely different to what the job actually entails and this is often not fully understood until one carries out the role first hand. Even then, it can take a while for everything to ‘click’ for the care and support worker and policies and procedures cannot be effective without a supportive management team who are approachable and able to answer questions that may naturally occur to facilitate their understanding.
Making them user friendly.
The creation of policies and procedures is a time consuming and seemingly never ending task. Not only do you want policies that are of a high quality, but they need to be easy for staff to understand and follow, as outlined above. Sometimes this can appear to be contradictory with many thinking that a high quality policy needs to be full of jargon in order to seem professional. This need not be the case. Your policies and procedures, much like your training materials, need to reflect the levels of understanding presented by your care team. Some individuals learn better by viewing images or flowcharts and there is no harm that can come from adding these in to your policies if it will lead to clearer understanding. As long as your policies and procedures set out the key practices with who to report concerns to, you are on your way to a winner. It also helps to reference key Regulations, Legislations and CQC Key Lines of Enquiry as this will help to build a deeper understanding of the reasons why staff need to work in the ways that are outlined in each policy.
How to make your policies and procedures fit for purpose.
It can be hard to know where to start when sourcing or writing the right policies for your service, especially if you are starting out as a new provider. Luckily, CQC provide a wealth of information on their website and if you are registering a new service, you can check all the documents, applications and policies you will need to submit before being considered to achieve your registration status. Of course, there are many types of adult social care services that are regulated by CQC and your policies and procedures need to be specific to your service. When outsourcing your documents, this can be where things get tricky. Many companies will say they have the policies and procedures you need for your care service, charge you a lot of money for them and then once received you realise they are too generic and require a lot of work on your part to make them fit for purpose.
It may sound like common sense, and it is, really – but a domiciliary care service requires domiciliary policies and procedures, specific to the practices of visiting different types of individuals in their homes. A domiciliary care service won’t need all the policies that a care home or supported living service has, but all too often these service types struggle to find the appropriate policies to match their specific practices. For example, all service types need a policy and procedure around the safe wearing and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, these service types differ in the way that they use and dispose of PPE, such as care homes having communal waste disposal areas, clinical waste disposal and collection areas, different practices for how PPE waste is stored, whereas domiciliary care services do not have these requirements or facilities (of course this is a generalisation and this all depends on the type of waste being handled within each service and service user).
Again, very simple but a supported living service requires supported living policies and procedures that are specific to the types of individuals they support and the environment they live in, which are usually widely different to that of a residential care home. For example, the types of individuals could be younger adults with learning disabilities, adults with mental health conditions, but also service users in a supported living service can often have higher levels of independence compared to individuals in a residential care home who are usually older adults or elderly, with higher and more complex care and support needs. People who work in supported living services carry out a variety of different tasks to support the enrichment and quality of life of their service users, helping the individuals they support to access and contribute to society, such as attending jobs, school and education, leisure activities and gyms, and much more. So you can see why although both service type offer accommodation and support, they will not benefit from having the same set of policies and procedures. Supported living services also often need documents around tenancy agreements and service users may fund their care differently to those in residential care homes and this will then need to be reflected in the policies and procedures, due to the impact this may have on reporting procedures and accountability.
To conclude, a good set of policies and procedures need to be organisation specific and written with your care team in mind. Registered Managers will always read and review policies but it is beneficial to have your staff in mind when proof-reading these documents and asking yourself: will my team be able to read and follow these documents? Will they know what this term means? Spot checks and workbooks can help managers to see who understands and follows agreed ways of working but also consider asking individual staff members at induction if they are having trouble reading or following the policies before they go out into the field. Going through them in more detail might be just the ticket to gain that little bit of confidence they didn’t know they needed. After all, it is better to take time at the beginning to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s”, which could save you a lot of time and effort in the future.
At CQC Experts we have a range of Policies and Procedures to suit all care settings.
For further information visit https://cqcexperts.com/policies-and-procedures.