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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.

A new approach to inspecting social care services

15 October 2013

New plans to monitor, inspect and regulate care homes and other social care services have been proposed by our Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe.

Andrea Sutcliffe’s initial plans and priorities are detailed in the document below.

In spring 2014, we will run a full public consultation where you’ll be given the chance to tell us what you think about these plans.

Key changes

Rating care homes

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.

Bigger and improved inspection teams

Inspections of adult social care services will look at whether the service is:

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

We will explore what each of these areas mean for adult social care services before we begin inspecting them.

Inspection teams will also include more expert inspectors, specialist advisors and people who have experience of receiving social care services (who we call Experts by Experience).

Other changes

We will also:

  • monitor the finances of 50-60 care home providers that would be difficult to replace if they were to go out of business (subject to the Care Bill – a change relating to the care and support for adults – becoming law).
  • take tougher action on services that do not meet standards, particularly those that do not have a registered manager in place.
  • check that services that are applying to be registered have the right values, motives, ability and experience to provide care to people.
  • discuss the risks and potential benefits of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras to monitor care, and whether they could contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality while respecting people’s privacy and dignity.
  • encourage residential homes to get more involved in their local community.
  • work with local Healthwatch to get its views on care homes in the community.

What next?

We will discuss and explore these plans with the public, including people who receive care, their carers, social care services, our own staff and more.

This will be followed by a consultation in spring 2014.

Andrea Sutcliffe said: “This is a fresh start for how care homes, home care, and other adult social care services are inspected and regulated across the country. I will be leading CQC’s new approach by making more use of people’s views and by using expert inspection teams involving people who have personal experience of care.

“We will always be on the side of the people who use care services. For every care service we look at, I want us to ask, is this good enough for my Mum? If it is, this should be celebrated. If not, then as the regulator, we will do something about it.”