CQC Care Homes & CQC Inspection: What You Need to Know

When you’re considering residential, nursing or dementia care for your loved one, it can be difficult to know which home is right and best. We always recommend visiting shortlisted homes to see for yourself which are most suitable, and to chat with the staff to get a good feel of how it will suit your loved one. However, it’s also useful to get an outside professional view. That’s where CQC reports for care homes come in.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carries out inspections of care homes in England and then gives them an overall rating of Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate. The snapshot rating gives you a quick overview of a care home’s suitability, but CQC reports for care homes go into much more detail and so they are worth reading in full for your shortlisted choice of homes.

Why are CQC reports for care homes important?

The Care Quality Commission is England’s independent regulator for all care providers in England. This includes residential care homes but they also inspect places like hospitals and even GP surgeries. Their role is to check that providers are delivering high standards of care, specifically in terms of effectiveness, safety and compassion.

All care homes in England are CQC care homes. That is, every care provider in the country must register with the CQC and be inspected by them. The inspections are thorough and even include surprise visits. Inspectors look at records and care settings and processes. They also listen to feedback from staff, residents and loved ones.

Following the inspection, a care home then gets a CQC report. You can read the report on any care home in the country on the CQC website. It’s also a legal requirement that care homes put details of their CQC rating on display on the premises. Of course, care homes that are rated Good or Outstanding are generally very proud to display these ratings and will also easily provide details on their website. If you can’t find details of the CQC rating for a care home on their website, it might be a red flag.

When a care home first opens, the CQC inspects it quite quickly – within 6-12 months. Homes are then inspected annually as a matter of course. However, if anyone raises concerns between inspections then these are investigated.

Making sense of CQC ratings for care homes

There are four potential ratings that can be given for CQC care homes:

  • Outstanding: A care home that is deemed to be exceptional and goes beyond expectations in terms of care provision.

  • Good: All CQC expectations are appropriately met by the care home and the standard of care is high and the home is performing well.

  • Requires Improvement: The care home isn’t meeting the required standards and the CQC has given the care home ways in which they need to now improve.
  • Inadequate: A care home that is deemed to be inadequate is failing to meet expectations and the CQC will then take action, including potentially closing the facility.

The CQC sets out its expectations of care homes, so that you can understand how they are measured and what a rating really means.

  • When carrying out the inspections, the CQC approaches inspections of care homes with some core overarching questions:
  • Are they safe? Residents must be safe from avoidable harm and abuse.
  • Are they effective? Residents should have the best quality of life possible with appropriate care, support and treatment.
  • Are they caring? Residents should be treated with compassion and dignity.
  • Are they responsive to needs? Residents in care homes should be treated as individuals and individual care needs should be met and responded to by the home.
  • Are they well led? Effective leadership determines the likely overall effectiveness of a care home. Strategic management and governance deeply affects the culture and standards within the care home.

Inspections aim to address these questions from a number of different angles, carrying out enquiries to get good and clear impressions. Inspections from one care home to another may not look identical because the individual inspector will pursue different lines of enquiry according to what they find (and what previous inspections have revealed). Their goal is to find out what care homes are really like, every day, for the residents.

This means that CQC reports for care homes are really useful for getting a good measure of a care home’s suitability for your loved one. You can dive into each area of the care home’s provision in detail and see evidence. It provides more detail than you’ll get from websites. It even provides more detail than you can probably gauge on visits, particularly about things like leadership.

It’s important, when reading CQC care homes reports that they are designed to continuously raise standards of care. They will always provide suggestions for improvement. Furthermore, if a care home is rated Inadequate then the CQC uses an enforcement policy to effect change before the next inspection, always with the aim of keeping residents safe and well cared for.

Can CQC reports help you choose between different care homes?

Choosing residential care for a family member is often a complex decision. Many factors need to be considered. As we said at the beginning, you should always visit prospective care homes as this will give a very clear idea of whether the home ‘feels’ right. You can ask questions and consider facilities, and really see for yourself.

However, it’s good to back up your ‘feeling’ with an objective assessment. And that’s where CQC reports for care homes are invaluable. It gives insight into what the care home is really like on an everyday basis, from people who are trained to know what to look for. It’s also independent and broad. You can even use the report to help you ask questions when you go for a visit of the home.

It’s particularly useful to use the CQC care homes reports to compare one home to another. However, always use a range of different approaches to decide which care home is right for your relative.

At Eastleigh Care Homes, we are proud that all of our care homes are rated Good or Outstanding. This reflects the high standards of care we provide. Please do give us a call to come and see our care homes in North Devon and Somerset for yourself, call 01769 573166.