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New CQC inspection guidance for home care providers

August 14, 2020
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Following the emergency procedures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CQC has been setting-out its approach to regulation and inspection going forward. Speaking live at the Care Summit on 30th July,  Deanna Westwood, Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) discussed what has been put in place since the COVID-19 crisis, and importantly, what’s next for home care CQC inspections.

Hint… it’s a welcome move towards digitisation.

From September, the CQC has announced it will be piloting virtual inspections with willing domiciliary care providers - attempting to determine whether inspectors can come to an “effective and robust judgement virtually.”

Discover what that means for you with our summary of Deanna’s talk and the new framework you can expect, or keep reading for a summary of the future CQC strategy.

About the CQC

The CQC is an an independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. Any person (individual, partnership or organisation) who provides regulated activity in England must be registered with the CQC, otherwise they commit an offence. If you’re not sure whether your home care agency needs to be regulated and inspected by the CQC, check out their guidance - here. 

The impact of COVID-19 on the CQC meant that processes had to be adapted - fast. Although routine inspections and provider information returns have been paused, the CQC has never stopped regulating, instead focusing on developing some new monitoring tools including the emergency support framework.

The emergency support framework was put in place to allow inspectors to understand where the greatest risks were in terms of managing the impact of COVID-19, and has been continuously adapted since the onset of the crisis. 

CQC learnings during COVID-19

“Although the risk of infection is receding we can't go back to business as usual.” 
Deanna Westwood, Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Deanna Westwood spoke about some of the key learnings that the CQC have made since the onset of the crisis - we’ve summarised them below:

  • Sharing information and being much more responsive and and reactive is key. The CQC are building a transitional approach that's going to build on what has been learned but it will have to look and feel different to the framework we know and recognise today.
  • Focusing on the voice of the people and the voice of care providers is more important than ever. Having open and honest conversations with providers off the back of the Emergency Support Framework has allowed us to be more supportive and this will continue.
  • Provider collaborative reviews will be used to look at how local systems have handled the pandemic and assess which best practices are taken forward. 
  • On-site inspections are a crucial tool, and will continue to be used by the CQC.


Will you be inspected by the CQC during COVID-19?

The CQC are currently using their Emergency Support Framework (ESF) and a combination of other resources to assess needs and support requirements in home care. 

“It's our ambition to contact every single provider. If providers haven't been contacted yet we will contact you - it's very likely you haven’t yet been contacted because you're considered to be a very low risk service. If we think providers need support or if we think they're at risk we will contact them, but we are working through all providers with our Emergency Support Framework as well.”
Deanna Westwood, Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

To find out more about what to expect from a CQC Emergency Support Framework inspection call, click here. 


Provider collaboration reviews

One area the CQC are exploring over July and August is collaboration with providers to learn from best practices. 

The CQC provider collaboration reviews will look at how providers are working collaboratively across the system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and focus on:

  • Understanding the experience of people
  • Supporting providers by sharing our learning 
  • Sharing the learning with the department of health and social care
  • Further developing insights to evolve the data offered to stakeholders

You can find out more about how Provider Collaborative Reviews here.

What’s next for CQC inspections?

The CQC is aiming to release their new strategy in Spring 2021.

“We want to be more relevant and responsive. We can't regulate an industry that is changing by the day without changing ourselves” 
Deanna Westwood, Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The CQC will be looking to improve the following areas:

  • Visibility of care quality across a pathway
  • System-led approaches: care providers know more than anybody sometimes how difficult and disjointed the care system can be to navigate

With a clear focus on four emerging themes:

  • Meeting people's needs
  • Smarter regulation
  • Promoting safe care for people
  • Driving and support and improvement

“Care is better when it's developed through the eyes of people who use services and delivered in partnership with them and the same has to apply to regulation”
Deanna Westwood, Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission (CQC)


It seems that the CQC will be embracing a collaborative, digital-first approach from 2021 onwards, and we can’t wait to see the changes rolled out. 

We’ve designed Birdie to work alongside the CQC KLOEs and help you improve your CQC rating. Some our our customers like Elite Care North West have managed to improve their ratings with the Birdie Home Care Software System. See how here.

We’ll be continuously monitoring the new strategy to ensure we’re aligned with the latest guidance too, so keep an eye on our blog and social channels to stay up to date with the changes we’re making. 


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