How Prepared is the TEC Sector in the Face of Risk?
March 3, 2022 9:50 am
As we now enter what is the third year of a global pandemic, it begs the question how prepared are we in TEC? How good are we at managing risk? What else can the sector do to enhance its approach to risk? Rupert Lawrence TSA Operations Director reflects on what is potentially one of the biggest challenges for TEC.
We all have our own stories about the pandemic, and while it may seem a little trite to share some of my story, I think it shows that an appreciation of risk within TEC and what it really means, has been brought into stark focus through COVID-19. In December 2019, as the news broke about a flu-like outbreak in China, it seemed a faraway problem, and in no way was it coming into my thoughts that it could affect the TEC service I oversaw at that point. Into January 2020, COVID-19 still wasn’t at the forefront of my mind and with my former team in Worcestershire, we were focused on continuing our work with innovative TEC solutions, our digital journey, and developing our busy monitoring centre services.
However, things moved rapidly, and February and March 2020 saw us starting to focus on the approaching situation of the pandemic, the news stories becoming more and more worrying as time progressed, and our risk management approach really came to the fore. We dealt well with the pandemic and made a difference to so many lives, helping people with proactive calling, designing, and delivering fantastic packages of TEC, and ensuring our vital services continued to operate in a safe and effective manner. We worked brilliantly with stakeholders to look after our workforce and service users, we made sure we were helping communities to stay safe and helping some of the most vulnerable people through the difficult times in the initial lockdown.
We did well, but I have asked myself since, could we have been more prepared or better aware of the risks? What else could we have done to be prepared for what was to come? We had plans in place for major sickness outbreaks, chemical spills, terrorist acts, and other types of major incidents, but what else could we have had in place for this situation? I thought we had a good handle on risk, but you can always seek to improve.
I was fortunate to work within an organisation that had committed substantial time, focus, and resourcing into risk management, business continuity, preparedness. It was an embedded part of our organisation, we actively assessed, managed, and mitigated risks.
We had solid processes for identifying new and emerging risks, had mechanisms for ensuring ownership of risk and employing robust controls was inherent to the way we worked. However, the pandemic was a different beast, it tested us to the limits of our response to an emerging risk, and I can categorically say that the summer of 2020 was the most challenging time I have ever experienced within TEC.
Coping with the pandemic was not easy, but I was extremely proud of the way in which people took to action, managed the risks, and formulated action plans to ensure we carried on our essential work in keeping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities safe, well, and independent. Quickly understanding what we needed to do, the safeguards we needed in place, and how we were going to rise to a wider set of challenges happened, and the response was fantastic. However, as time has gone on, it has prompted me to think further about risk and how prepared we are as a sector for the road ahead. What are the key challenges facing us out there and how are we preparing to meet these?
Quality Standards Framework
My new role at TSA has seen me begin to play a leading role in our Quality & Improvement Programme Board and shaping the Quality Standards Framework to meet existing and emerging needs and requirements. Placing greater emphasis on a managed approach to risk, interrogating the external landscape, and designing controls to mitigate the risks emerging from this has been central to the thinking of how we take things forwards at TSA.
We’ve carried out some excellent work through our Special Interest Group 14 (SIG14) on Risk Management, with an extensive risk survey performed in 2021 to capture and evaluate the risks currently in play for the TEC sector. A huge thank you to the members of this group for this unenviable task, and to all those who took part in this revealing survey! Taking this work further is now the challenge and making sure it guides and shapes our work around the Quality Standards Framework and our support for members is essential.
Understanding that we have a wide range of member organisations, differing in type, scale, and available resources is crucial. Knowing what tools they have available, what their existing approach to risk management is, and what support they could benefit from is vital. Establishing how we can develop enhanced approaches for risk management across the sector and through our standards is our primary goal, enabling organisations to be better prepared for risk emergence and escalation is central to this.
In 2022, we’re evolving the Quality Standards Framework to encompass an even greater diversity in service provision and supply considerations. We are also going to enhance what we have set out enhanced standards around risk management and develop how we audit organisations against this. The emphasis will be on supporting organisations to improve upon what they already do to manage, control, and mitigate risks; where good practice is already in place, we’ll support to enhance this further, and where there are weaknesses or a lack of an organisational approach to risk management, we’ll help organisations to establish this.
Some key outputs from SIG14 will be the development of new guidance for members, a set of useful tools for embedding and enhancing your risk management approach, and a development within the Quality Standards Framework to drive standards in this area. Our TEC Quality and Membership & Advisory teams will support organisations where they need additional help to implement, and further information will come out of SIG14 in its communications around risk.
I started off this blog by talking about the pandemic and that posing questions about risk management, but the whole subject is of course much wider. As we move forwards with more proactive and preventative models of care, as the digital switchover gathers pace, and we face the seemingly ever-increasing challenges experienced by our industry, the need for a dynamic and robust approach to risk management becomes more important. Establishing higher standards to provide our sector with the tools it needs to position itself to meet these challenges and to maximise the opportunities available, is something that TSA is going to take the lead on. Stay tuned for further comms coming from SIG14 and TSA going forwards!
Managing Risk and Future-Proofing the Technology Enabled Care Sector
ZONE 2: Knowledge & Networking
How to deliver better quality outcomes through proactive and preventative care services
Led by TEC Quality’s Quality Manager Helen Rudkin, this session will explore some of the proactive and preventative tools from TSA work programmes and the new Trailblazer programme for P&P care.
Managing Risk and Future-Proofing the Technology Enabled Care Sector