What are CQC Reports and What Can They Tell You about a Care Home?

If you’re searching for a residential care home or nursing home for you loved one, it’s vital that you are reassured that they will provide a high standard of care. CQC reports can give you some of that peace of mind.

A care home is inspected and rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). They decide if the care home is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. Understanding how CQC reports are undertaken can help you compare different care homes and feel secure in the decisions you make for your loved one.

What is the CQC and what do they do?

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) is an independent regulator responsible for all care providers in England. They are charged with ensuring that care providers (including GP surgeries, hospitals, domiciliary care services, community care, dentists and care homes) are providing high-quality care that is safe, compassionate and effective.

It is a requirement for all care providers in England to register with the CQC and undergo their inspections. These inspections involve different elements including unannounced visits, a review of records, and collation of feedback from service users and staff.

From the inspection, CQC reports are created. You can look up the relevant CQC reports for care homes you are considering. Additionally, by law, individual care homes must display the ratings they have been given from the CQC – this should be somewhere easy to see on the premises. Most care homes that are proud of their CQC ratings will also happily display this on their website.

All new care homes should be inspected within their first 6-12 months. From this point, care homes should then be inspected at least once a year. If there are concerns raised between inspections, the CQC will follow up on these.

CQC reports – the ratings

Reports are detailed and include various different explanations. In addition, each report is accompanied by a rating. This is a snapshot overview of the standard of care. There are four ratings:

  • Outstanding: The service is exceptional and well above the expected standards of high-quality care.
  • Good: The service is meeting the CQC’s expectations of high-quality care and is performing well.
  • Requires Improvement: The service is not performing to the standards expected and the CQC has explained how the service must improve.
  • Inadequate: The service is failing to meet the expected standards of care and, as such, the CQC has taken action against it.

CQC reports – the questions

In order to achieve a rating and the content of the report, the CQC consider the care provider in terms of five key questions.

1.      Are they safe?

Those receiving care should be safe from avoidable harm and protected from abuse.

2.      Are they effective?

Those receiving care should achieve good outcomes, enjoying a quality of life that is as best as it can be, through the care, support and treatment provided.

3.      Are they caring?

Those receiving care should be treated with respect, kindness, compassion and dignity. In short, staff should be reliably caring.

4.      Are they responsive to needs?

Those receiving care should be treated as individuals whereby their unique needs are met.

5.      Are they well-led?

Those receiving care benefit from being given care from an organisation which is led effectively, with organised and strategic governance and management. The right leadership creates a caring culture which provides exceptional care.

When undertaking inspections, the inspectors dive into these questions, breaking each of them down into a further set of questions, known as key lines of enquiry. The key lines of enquiry may differ slightly from one care provider to another. It’s about unearthing the realities of what that care home is like on an everyday basis.

The CGC guide about what you can expect in a good care home, helps you to understand more of what the expectations are and how this is determined.

CQC reports are useful beyond the snapshot rating, because it provides details about each of the areas in detail and gives evidence for them. This means you can get a clearer view of where the care home is doing well and where there may be areas for improvement. The reports are designed to enable continuous improvement, and thus raise standards of care.

If a care home is found to be inadequate then they don’t simply state this and walk away until the next inspection. The CQC has a clear enforcement policy to effect change, and ensure those receiving care are safe and protected. In the most serious cases, the CQC can cancel or suspend a care home’s registration.

How can a CQC report help you choose a care home

It’s a big decision choosing a care home for a loved one. There are different steps you can go through to help with your decision, including visiting the home and seeing what it is like for yourself. However, it’s understandable that you need more reassurance than this as you may feel that you’re being presented the ‘best side’ of the care home and not really getting to see what it’s like every day.

A CQC report provides an insightful, independent and experienced review of the care home or nursing home. It can even help you know which questions to ask of care providers. CQC reports can be a very useful way of comparing different homes and getting more of an insider’s view.

We recommend that you use CQC reports in conjunction with other methods, and don’t rely on them alone, but as part of a wider approach, they can be very useful. Also make sure you visit the home, ask questions about what is most important to you, meet some staff and ask for some reviews or testimonials.

At Eastleigh, all of our care homes and nursing homes are rated Good or above. We are proud that our high standards of care are reflected in our CQC reports and ratings. Find out the CQC ratings for our East Street, Raleigh Mead and Minehead homes, and please do come and visit us to see our high-quality care in person.