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The Care Quality Commission checks whether hospitals, care homes and care services are meeting government standards. Visit our website at www.cqc.org.uk.

Guidance on meeting the standards

We have produced guidance to help you understand what you need to do to meet the essential standards of quality and safety.

We call this our ‘guidance about compliance’.

The guidance takes the legal regulations and turns them into outcomes – examples of what we expect people to experience when the regulations are being met. Each outcome is followed by prompts that are there to help you think about whether and how you are achieving the outcomes for people.

Our inspectors use the guidance as well to help them consider whether people are experiencing the outcomes.

You do not have to use our guidance if you don’t want to – you can use your own methods to monitor your compliance with the regulations. However, the regulations do say that you must take our guidance into account when doing this.

Tailor the guidance to your service

There is an online, interactive version of the essential standards guidance that

helps you collect and print out the sections that apply to your particular type of service.

Essential standards of quality and safety: online version

Alternative formats

We have produced a summary of this guidance in easy to read and large print versions. You can download these below.

Case studies

We also have case studies that underpin our guidance about compliance. They are examples of what non-compliance with the regulations looks like in different settings, and the different levels of impact that non-compliance can have on people. There is a separate set of case studies for NHS GPs and others providing primary medical services.

Read our case studies

Read our case studies for NHS GPs and other primary medical services

Judgement framework

We also have guidance for our inspectors, called the Judgement framework, that helps them reach judgements about whether a provider or registered manager is meeting the essential standards, and to decide what action to take if they are not. We have updated this guidance in line with the changes to the way we regulate and inspect from April 2012.

This will help you understand the different stages an inspector goes through to make a judgement, and our different options when we find non-compliance. These options depend on the impact that the non-compliance has on people who use the service: we grade these as minor, moderate or major.

When we make our judgements, we use the regulations to describe whether or not a provider is compliant. We clearly set out the implications of compliance or non-compliance in terms of the outcomes and experiences of people using the service.

Other guidance

We produce a number of pieces of guidance to help our inspectors in their work, and we have made much of this available to you to help you understand what our inspectors look at when they inspect services.

Read the Guidance for our staff