How Will Your Home Care Service Fare in the new CQC Ratings?


No doubt all adult social care providers are aware that a new inspection regime is on its way, with consultation currently being carried out. To give you a sense of what’s in store you probably have to look no further than this quote from the CQC website:


‘Every care home and adult social care service in England will be awarded one of the following ratings by March 2016.

  • Outstanding.
  • Good.
  • Requires improvement.
  • Inadequate.

We want you to use these ratings to help you make better decisions about the care you or someone you know receives.’

Point 1 – ‘satisfactory’, is not an option. If you’re not ‘good ‘ then you’ll need to improve.

I think that gives a strong sense of how inspections will be used to drive up standards. Remember too that these ratings will be highly public.

The other point to come back to is the date: March 2016. That might sound a long way off. But if you need to make significant changes to satisfy the new CQC inspection regime, and give yourself time to collect the necessary evidence, you can imagine how quickly that’s going to come around. And that is the final deadline, which means inspections and ratings will start well before that!

What will care service providers need to show?

While details are still being thrashed out, the core of the new CQC inspections will be around establishing whether providers are:

  • safe.
  • effective.
  • caring.
  • responsive to people’s needs.
  • well-led.

An issue for many providers will be on providing evidence to demonstrate you meet the required standards for each of these criteria. Think about what you would do if you had to convince an inspection team today that you do all of those and do them to at least a ‘good’ standard. How good are your systems at recording what you do so you can support your case?

Increasing Demands

It’s clear that things will get tougher and that inspections will be increasingly demanding. In its consultation document the CQC promises to: ‘take tougher action on services that do not meet standards, particularly those that do not have a registered manager in place.’

And there is also the continuing debate about what might be done outside of formal inspections. User reviews and feedback from care users, families and carers will be used increasingly to judge how effectively adult social care providers are working. And the consultation will also seek views on whether mystery shoppers and hidden cameras should play a part.

Something you might want to pin on your noticeboard to help you focus on the changes that are coming are what CQC lists as the Top 10 changes it wants to achieve:

  1. More systematic use of people’s views and experiences, including complaints.
  2. Inspections by expert inspectors, with more Experts by Experience and specialist advisors.
  3. Tougher action in response to breaches of regulations, particularly when services are without a registered manager for too long.
  4. Checking providers who apply to be registered have the right values and motives, as well as ability and experience.
  5. Ratings to support people’s choice of service and drive improvement.
  6. Frequency of inspection to be based on ratings, rather than annually.
  7. Better data and analysis to help us target our efforts.
  8. New standards and guidance to underpin the five key questions we ask of services – are they safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led? – with personalisation and choice at their heart.
  9. Avoiding duplicating activity with local authorities.
  10. Focus on leadership, governance and culture, with a different approach for larger and smaller providers.

As with any inspection process, organisations that are well run, with modern and efficient systems and a sound ethos will have much less to be concerned about when it comes to change. But just being ‘caring’ on its own is not enough. Providers need to start looking now at how they identify and document service users’ individual needs and how effectively they manage the process of meeting those needs and involve service users in those decisions.

In my view, an important factor in meeting the challenge of the new adult social care inspections will be on providing comprehensive management systems that are easy for care workers to use. You can only prove that you are a well-run organisation by being a well-run organisation and your systems need to support this without becoming a burden on your team.

Providers not using a domiciliary care management package will struggle. And even if you are using one it might be time to take a cold, hard look at whether it is really delivering what your organisation needs. The stakes are high and March 2016 is not that far away.



Dan Farrell- Wright, CareForIt

Call me on 08455 44 23 11 to see how economical effective home care management software can be. Monthly subscriptions from £50 per organisation.

Image: Creative Commons License theilr via Compfight

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