Social Care Sector: Looking back on 2020 & to a future full of hope.

Like many businesses at this time of year we are planning for the next financial year, setting budgets, and reviewing the work we do. 2020 was certainly a year for change and challenges for everyone in the Health and Social Care Sector and that included Swift Management Services. But rather than being a negative year as it has been for so many companies the Swift team have taken on new challenges and have seen a very different client base emerging.

Our traditional client base has been largely centred around compliance and improvements within the private health care sector, with many face to face interactions with our clients, which has on occasions resulted in our consultants assisting providers with a seven day a week presence to reassure local authorities and implement change.

Much of our work in 2020 moved online, with remote support being provided, using MS Teams and Zoom calls alongside providing documents and files to our clients via our secure server. Where we have made visits, we have done so ensuring our team are tested and have all the PPE they need to do the job in hand.

As care homes began to batten down the hatches due to the expediential spread of Covid-19 in the care sector, our client group began to move to other areas of health care. This is something the team are well able to do this due their diverse and extensive experience in both acute and long term care.

One of the highlights of the year was the work the team undertook supporting the commissioning of the London Nightingale Hospital. Working alongside the NHS and the armed forces to ensure the

Hospital could operate as quickly as possible it truly was a mammoth task and our team was glad to be part of it.

We have also worked with several keen new entrants in to the health and social care sector. We have assisted with training and development of new company directors, registrations and support in the early weeks and months of their businesses. This has included surgical centres, supported living projects, care homes, domiciliary care agencies and private covid-19 test centres. We are now supporting these businesses in their first two years to ensure they work within the regulations and learn the care sector.

It goes without saying our compliance support has continued and we have assisted new clients with regulatory issues, whilst supporting our regular clients with all aspects of their business. The usual activity of the regulators across the country has changed considerably, and as different approaches have been adopted, the traditional inspections have all but taken a back seat.

The advent of different frameworks of regulation has seen in many instances an escalation to enforcement action being taken much quicker and without a usual inspection taking place. Traditionally, this has always been a good indication of the report a provider can expect. This has seen some providers taken off guard when the report arrives. We have worked with Care Homes, Domiciliary Care Agencies, Private Ambulance Services, all of which have faced enforcement action because of desktop studies, telephone discussions and focused inspection, as well as feedback to the inspectorate from other sources such as visiting professionals.

We have provided crisis support for these clients, writing action plans, policies and procedures and assisting with the improvement process. The team have guided and assisted providers to make representation to notices of proposal and even attended follow-up inspection visits. Where necessary we have been able to supplement the work we undertake in these situations by working hand in hand with solicitors who specialise in the field. This joined up approach has resulted in the best possible representations being presented to the commission and in some cases when the provider’s case has moved to tribunal.

Another aspect of our work has been to provide support for Medico-Legal cases which we undertake in association with Apex Health Associates. This has been an area of growth and we have provided Expert witness reports and medical chronology to support both defence and prosecution cases.

With the fight against Covid-19 reaching heights within the third lockdown our nursing team have all signed up to work in vaccination centres to assist the all-important vaccination programme and everyone is looking forward to being deployed.

Behind the scenes we have been busy to; we have undertaken a total review of our website and installed new software systems to allow better support for our customers. In February 2020 we converted all our consultants onto new software and held a training week to implement the change. At that time we reviewed the use of MS Teams and everyone concluded that we were unlikely to ever need the package. Oh, how wrong we were; within only a matter of weeks we were holding meetings, speaking with clients, offering training sessions and speaking at seminars all via Teams.

Having looked back on the past 12 months, far from assisting in our plans for the future, it has demonstrated how fluid our sector has become during the pandemic. Whilst we are clear about our direction of travel should be next year, we also know that whatever happens we need to be able to quickly react to a changing world. This challenge we have risen to up until now and look forward to meeting the challenges we face next year.