Launch of CQC’s new model for inspections

Today marks the launch of CQC’s new model for inspecting adult social care. The new model confirms how CQC will regulate, inspect and rate care homes and community adult social care in England.

Provider handbooks have been issued which are meant to help care providers understand how they will be assessed and rated under the new regime.

Specialist teams, including trained members of the public (called Experts by Experience) will inspect services, unannounced, against what matters most to those who use them: are they safe, caring, effective, responsive to their needs, and well-led?

CQC will then rate these services as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate so that people can have access to clear information and make informed choices about care.

CQC has issued one handbook covering its regulation of residential adult social care (care homes, with and without nursing) and another covering the regulation of community adult social care (including services that care for people in their own homes).

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “The handbooks mark an important milestone for us and the adult social care services that we regulate. We have developed our regulatory model with people who use services, care providers, commissioners, national partners and our staff. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time and effort to respond during our consultation, participate in our various events, and work with us during our test inspections to help us to develop our strengthened approach. Our new regulatory model has people right at its heart. We will ask the questions that matter most to people who use services, listen to their views, take action to protect them, and provide them with clear, reliable and accessible information about the quality of their services.”

Andrea Sutcliffe went on to speak about the ‘mum test’ saying:  “The detail in the handbooks is about making the Mum Test real. On their visits, I will ask our inspection teams to consider whether these are services that they would be happy for someone they love and care for to use. If they are, then we will celebrate this through our ratings. If they are not, we will take tough action so that improvements are made. Above all else, my priority is to make sure people receive care that is safe, effective, high-quality and compassionate.”

CQC plans to:

  • Develop its ‘Provider Information Returns’ with an online system so that care providers can submit information about their services to CQC continuously.
  • Strengthen and reduce the number of ‘key lines of enquiry’ that inspection teams will use to guide them on their visits. The ‘key lines of enquiry’ language will be reviewed to reflect current practice, not use jargon and are fully focus on service users.
  • Review the descriptions of its ratings so that they are clearer and use plain English. CQC has also strengthened its descriptions of ‘Outstanding’ care so that it can set a high but achievable bar and recognise services that are innovative, creative, and dynamic.
  • Publish guidance on the use of surveillance for health and adult social care providers, as well as for members of the public, to help them make decisions about its potential use. Guidance is expected to be published at the end of the month.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb said: “This marks a turning point for the way we care for people in this country. Gone is the tick-box exercise for inspecting care homes and home care – now we are listening to the views of the people who rely on these services and have tougher checks to make sure they are getting safe, compassionate care from staff who are supported by good managers. And at the end of it the service will be given a rating that’s easy to understand, so families will know if it is up to scratch. All this will support the wider work we are doing to stamp out poor care and build a fairer society.”

Tony Hunter, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) said: “At SCIE, we recognise the importance of the ‘Mum Test’ in making sure that CQC’s inspections are truly focused around the people who receive care. CQC’s new model of inspection will go a long way towards ensuring that poor care is stamped out and that quality care is celebrated. The handbook will make it more straightforward for providers to recognise what quality care is; and also to determine how to achieve it. At SCIE, we’re passionate about supporting the improvement of care experiences and outcomes. To this end we are engaged with the whole range of stakeholders in the development of improvement toolkits and other resources.”

Des Kelly OBE, Executive Director of the National Care Forum (NCF) said: “The publication of provider handbooks by CQC is an important step in changing the way in which adult social care services in England are inspected, assessed and rated. NCF has welcomed the intention by CQC to regulate different services in different ways as we believe that it is vital that the regulator has a role in promoting quality improvement.”

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