Short observational framework for inspection

Page last updated: 19 June 2023
Organisations we regulate

Find out more about short observational framework for inspection (SOFI) and how our inspectors use it.

What is SOFI?

In some of our inspection reports, you may read about SOFI or ‘SOFI 2’, which stands for short observational framework for inspection.

SOFI is a tool developed with the University of Bradford’s School of Dementia Studies and used by our inspectors to capture the experiences of people who use services who may not be able to express this for themselves.

The original framework was designed for use by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) in their inspections of services for people with dementia or severe learning disabilities.

SOFI 2, the second edition of the tool, reflects the change in the regulatory framework and the wider range of services that CQC regulates compared to CSCI. Its use has also been extended to anyone who has difficulties communicating their experience of care.

How do we use SOFI?

SOFI 2 is one of the components of our inspectors’ toolkit and can only be used by people trained in its use.

It is not designed to be used alone. It acts as one source of evidence – in making a judgement on compliance, the data is used only if corroborated by other evidence.

The observations do not replace talking to people who use services but can help an inspector get a clearer picture. Using the tool helps to raise questions about care practice that is then followed up by checking other sources of evidence.

The observations can also be used to check evidence gathered from other sources such as care plans and talking to staff or visitors.

What information does SOFI capture?

Inspectors observe the mood and engagement of people using services and the quality of staff interactions. They also make notes on other aspects of care practice during their observations.

Can service providers or commissioners train to use SOFI2?

The tool is designed for regulators and is not a stand-alone tool. It is one of a range of tools and methods our inspectors use. They also receive additional training on observation, compliance outcomes and judgements, feeding back and reporting.

Training on SOFI 2 alone, therefore, would not provide an adequate level of knowledge to be able to use the tool appropriately and to make accurate judgements about compliance with outcomes.

There are a range of tools that are more appropriate for providers to use. SOFI 2 is based on the DCM-8 tool and process, and training on DCM and its practice development process is available by contacting the University of Bradford.

Who is currently using SOFI 2?

All our inspectors are trained to use the tool.

In addition, Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) have licences to use SOFI 2 and have inspectors trained in the use of the tool.

The tool is copyrighted to University of Bradford Dementia Group and CQC.