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Differences between the CQC and Care Inspectorate Scotland

October 3, 2022
Table of contents

What is the Care Inspectorate?

In England, the CQC (the Care Quality Commission) governs the key lines of enquiry for adult social care services, and ensures that high standards for care are reached and maintained. 

Similarly, the CI, also called Care Inspectorate, governs north of the border and equally ensures high quality of care; so how similar are the CQC and the CI from one another? How different are they? Birdie’s taken a side by side comparison and put what we’ve found here: 

Similarities between the CQC and the Care Inspectorate

Interestingly, the CQC and CI’s framework has some pretty distinct similarities!

The similarities between the CQC and the CI’s quality framework are fairly evident, with both the CI and the CQC evaluating certain key aspects of care to help businesses achieve the highest standards. 

The CQC evaluates care businesses based on the five KLOE’S (Key Lines of Enquiry): 

  • Is it safe?
  • Is it effective? 
  • Is it caring? 
  • Is it responsive?
  • Is it well led? 

(For a more in depth look at the CQC’s rating system, Birdie’s provided a closer look at these here). 

Similarly, the Care Inspectorate has 6 questions in their quality framework that care agencies use to self evaluate their care. The first of these is:

  1. How well do we support people’s wellbeing?

Which is then quantified by a further four questions: 

  1. How good is our leadership?
  2. How good is our staff team?
  3. How good is our setting? (not currently assessed for care at home)
  4. How well is care and support planned? 

There is then a final 6th question asked as a conclusion to each question above; ‘How can we improve?’. This question encourages care agencies to create improvement plans based on the weaknesses they found whilst carrying out their self assessment. 

In addition, once a rating is awarded and confirmed by either the CQC or the Care Inspectorate, the care business has to publish their result publicly on a prime spot on their website and in their office. Both governing bodies also publish the full inspection results on their respective websites. 

What are the differences between CQC and CI? 

The largest difference between how the CQC and the Care Inspectorate evaluate care businesses is that the CI provides their quality framework for the use of self assessment - whereas the CQC has traditionally been the ones to go in and inspect (although this may be changing as new regulation comes in - find out more here!). 

The Care Inspectorate’s introduction of the self assessment was introduced to encourage care agencies to consistently assess their own standards of care, in order for them to constantly strive for improvement and to ensure their care is in alignment with the care inspectorate’s quality framework. 

In addition, another key difference is that the Care Inspectorate covers a lot more ground than the CQC in terms of the communities it serves. Whereas the CQC focuses on adult social care services, the CI’s territory ranges from ALL social care aspects, from daycare of children, fostering and adult placement. Care services are not allowed to operate unless they’re registered with the Care Inspectorate. (A full list of the communities they serve can be found here). 

The CI is also newer than the CQC. While the CQC was founded in October 2008, the CI was brought about in April 2011, built to govern care services north of the border. 


Both the CQC and the CI have varying degrees of differences and similarities, but at their core their mission is the same, to ensure high quality care within the communities they serve, and Birdie’s here to help! We offer a CQC resources hub to help with upcoming inspections. 

Check out this video on our YouTube channel to learn more about best practices for achieving ‘outstanding’ at CQC Inspections:

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