Chear response to Care Quality Commission ‘Requires improvement’ rating 

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At Chear, we are committed to providing high-quality audiological care for people of all ages including young children. Our small, dedicated team has a track-record for competence, reliability and clarity in testing hearing in children. The results we derive underpin discussions with families on their options for hearing care, management, and support around their child’s needs. We use research-based evidence to evolve new practices and innovations within paediatric audiology.

Our work continues to address the unmet -need for hearing assessments in the UK, in addition to providing interventions to support developmental needs and hearing aid strategies for children for their quality of life. This expertise has evolved over years of experience in paediatric audiology and research by the clinical director, Josephine Marriage PhD.

In November 2023, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its report, rating Chear as ‘Requires improvement’ following an inspection in August 2023. As we recognise the
importance of regulatory processes, we promptly took action to rectify the identified concerns and to implement the proposed changes.

The criteria included on the CQC checklist are developed to apply equally to multiple types of sizeable health service providers, including hospitals and large care homes. As a result, their checklist criteria are unsuitable for a specialist facility with three staff members working in a small 2-room clinic facility. Clinical assessments are not included during the CQC’s inspection, and the inspectors are not experienced in audiology. As a result, there is no review of our clinical competency, reliability or effectiveness of our testing.

Whilst we are disappointed by the CQC rating, on closer inspection of the criteria, the rating does not impact the validity or accuracy of our assessments of our clients’ hearing. This is
endorsed by comprehensive feedback ratings from families attending Chear, that affirm our commitment to maintaining a safe environment and ensuring the well-being of the children and families under our care.

At Chear, we prioritise client-experience, well-being and safety, along with effective assessment of hearing, at every appointment. We are pleased to see that these vital areas of our service were acknowledged within the CQC’s report, including the number of staff per client, record keeping, our level of care and treatment and delivery of services to suit patients’ needs. The areas identified, including safeguarding refresher training, fire-risk and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessments, have now been completed.

Despite the areas of improvement highlighted in the CQC report, our team remains resolute in our mission to provide hearing and functional assessment for children, with discussion and reporting of our results for families. As a result, we have requested a review of the rating from the CQC, a request that has been rejected. We continuously seek avenues for improvement and evolution, without which there is no development.

Despite our CQC rating, as long as there is a need for independent hearing assessment for families to be seen in the UK, we will be steadfast in delivering our service at Chear. We will
continue to apply our knowledge and experience to provide hearing and functional assessment of children, serving families locally and across the UK.

Thank you for your continued trust and support as we navigate this process.