Covid-19 inspection safety precautions for early learning and childcare services including childminders (Added 29 April 2021)

We are committed to carrying out our inspections safely, and we take our responsibility to the welfare of children and staff in your service very seriously.  We have worked with Public Health Scotland to ensure our inspection process is as safe as it possibly can be. 

All our staff have had infection prevention and control training that includes minimising the risk of contact and the safe use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  Our inspectors are undertaking twice weekly testing and are required to have a negative lateral flow test before visiting a service. If the test is positive, they self-isolate and arrange to undertake a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.   No inspector will visit a service if they have any of the recognised symptoms of COVID-19.

We have amended our processes to minimise the time we need to spend in your service carrying out key tasks.  We will carry out some activities remotely, such as interviews with staff or parents.

When our inspectors are in your service, they will maintain physical distancing from your staff and each other and wear moisture resistance face masks.  You may see your inspector change these across the time they are in your service.  They will wash their hands regularly and carry supplies of hand sanitiser where hand washing may be more difficult, such as in outdoor areas.

Inspectors will limit the items they bring into your service and will use their tablets to record and photograph information rather than taking paper copies.

Inspections of services for children and young people (except childminders) (Added 27 April 2021)

We suspended our normal inspection programme in March 2020 in response to Scottish Government national restrictions on movement put in place to help suppress the spread of Covid-19. We maintained close contact with services across the country, providing advice and guidance to help providers continue to deliver services through a time of unprecedented challenge.

During the autumn and winter we recommenced our inspection programme on a revised basis. We carried out as much activity as possible remotely, using digital and other means. We undertook assurance activity to respond proportionately to any concerns and continued to make visits to services wherever we judged it was necessary to gain assurance about children’s wellbeing.

We have now revised our inspection priorities for 2021-22. They will be determined taking into account a number of factors including:

  • intelligence which gives us cause for concern or suggests there are areas requiring further exploration. Intelligence may come from notifications or from a failure to comply with the notification system, and from complaints or relevant information provided by other bodies;
  • inspection history, particularly where the last inspection identified significant areas for improvement and where we now need to assess the extent to which improvements have been made;
  • services which have not been inspected since registration with the Care Inspectorate;
  • inspection frequency timescales.

For all high and medium risk services, we aim to carry out on-site visits to engage in fieldwork, gain assurance about the wellbeing of children and young people and assess how their needs are being met. We will work sensitively with services to ensure this is done safely, in a way which reduces risks for everyone. Inspection feedback will continue to be provided through a virtual meeting.

For all other services, we will continue to carry out as much activity as possible remotely, using digital and other means. We are asking services for continued cooperation and support in providing documentary evidence timeously and facilitating conversations between inspectors and children, families, staff and other stakeholders. This helps us to complete inspections without undue delays.  We will continue to make visits to services wherever we judge it is necessary to gain assurance about children’s wellbeing.

All of our inspectors have received Covid training to help keep everyone in the service and themselves as safe as possible. They undertake regular lateral flow tests and make appropriate use of PPE and face masks.

We will be flexible and will amend plans as necessary in the light of changing circumstances locally and nationally.

Operating an early learning and childcare setting (including out of school care and childminders) during COVID-19 (Updated 12 August 2020)

We have developed ‘Key Question 5’, a self-evaluation resource and tool which asks you to evaluate how well you are supporting children and families during COVID-19. The aim of this resource is to enable settings to gather information and continually evaluate their progress in supporting staff, children and families to have confidence in the provision of ELC by specifically evidencing how they have implemented the national guidance for COVID-19, while ensuring positive outcomes for children. This is the only Key Question we expect ELC providers (including out of school care and childminders) to compete. This key question will sit alongside our Quality Framework for Early Learning and Childcare when this is published later this year (which will include Key Questions 1-4).

We encourage you to complete the ‘self-evaluation tool’. The tool asks you to take account of performance data when evaluating your service.  This will be individual to your service.  It may include how you communicate with families or other settings where there are blended placements. It may also be some examples of evidence which you wish to include within the tool e.g. Supporting evidence of how you have implemented and reviewed the national guidance relevant to your service:

Inspectors will request the completed self-evaluation from providers on a risk and sampling basis. Please do not send this to us until requested. This will not be before 10 August 2020.  However, we may undertake other scrutiny activities in settings before this date. Read more about this here. 

COVID-19 Scrutiny Assessment Tool (SAT) (Added 30 July 2020)

The COVID-19 Scrutiny Assessment Tool (SAT) is a trigger tool developed by the Care Inspectorate to identify indicators of potential concerns in care homes.

From 14 August this will replace the current Risk Assessment Rating (RAD) for all Care Homes (Adults, Older People, Children and Young People). Inspectors will begin this process from 30 July.

A list of questions that the inspectors will answer when completing the SAT in the RMS system can be found here.

This is for service provider’s information only.

The SAT is not a risk assessment in the same way that the RAD was but will support us to identify what level of support and scrutiny is appropriate for a service taking account their current circumstances.

In developing the COVID-19 SAT we considered specific information relevant to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is based on what our intelligence has so far identified as being key indicators or concerns within services to allow us to consider where additional support and/or scrutiny may be required. 

The COVID-19 SAT is based on a Scrutiny Assessment Tool we have developed and tested that included information from our enforcement review.  The release of the new tool was delayed due to the pandemic, we are planning to release the full SAT for all service types later in the year. 

Key question 7 for children and young people residential services (Added 6 July 2020)

We have developed key question 7 for children and young people residential services.

Where there are concerns relating to COVID-19 in a residential childcare setting this key question is to be used as part of our scrutiny.

Where there are concerns not relating to COVID-19, areas from the existing quality framework will be used as a basis of our scrutiny work.

New key question for care home inspections (Added 10 June 2020) 

In order to robustly assess care home arrangements to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, our inspections are placing particular focus on infection prevention and control, personal protective equipment and staffing in care settings. 

We have developed Key Question 7 to augment  our quality framework for care homes for older people and our quality framework for care homes for adults.  We have done this to meet the duties placed on us by the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act and subsequent guidance that we must evaluate (grade) infection prevention and control and staffing.  

This means we will carry out targeted inspections that are short, focused and carried out with colleagues from Health Improvement Scotland and Health Protection Scotland, to assess care and support for people experiencing care and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to put the wellbeing for people experiencing care at the heart of our inspections.