CQC / Care management software

How to prepare for your next CQC inspection

The Care Quality Commission, or CQC, is tasked with inspecting and regulating health and social care providers to ensure people receive safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care. 


Your CQC inspection is your opportunity to show your commitment to providing the very best home care service for your clients. After the inspection, you’ll be awarded a rating: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate. If you’ve received a Requires Improvement rating on your last CQC inspection, we know you’ll be focusing on improving your service before your next inspection.


A CQC inspection is a Big Deal for your home care agency; every system, process, and procedure in your service will be under scrutiny. However, if you take steps to prepare and are confident that you’re providing a good service for your clients, it can also be a chance to obtain a positive report that reflects your commitment and dedication. 

What does a CQC inspection entail?

Before the inspectors visit your agency, they will review the documentation and records they have about your service, including notifications you’ve submitted, such as complaints or safeguarding alerts. This information helps to determine which aspects of the assessment they will focus on during the inspection.


The CQC carries out inspections unannounced, so you won’t know when to expect them. The inspection itself typically lasts for one day.  When they arrive, inspectors will show you their ID, explain the purpose of their visit (they might be inspecting one specific area, or responding to a complaint, for example) and ask you to allocate them a space to use for the time they’re with you. 


Inspectors talk to your clients and staff, comparing what they hear to written records to build a complete 360-degree picture of your service. They are likely to pick out key areas of your service and ask you to explain how you meet quality standards, perhaps asking for supporting evidence, like training logs or care plans. You’ll receive feedback at the end of the inspection, and occasionally, the CQC may contact you again afterwards for additional information.

How does the CQC make its judgement?

The CQC makes its judgement using two important frameworks: the Key Lines of Enquiry and the Quality Standards (also known as fundamental standards).


Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs)

The CQC uses five KLOEs to assess whether your service delivers caring, effective, responsive, well-led, and safe care. The CQC framework lists the exact requirements for a good or outstanding rating in each KLOE. You can read more about the five KLOEs in our series of guides. 


If you have previously received a Requires Improvement rating, you can use this framework to determine in which areas you need to improve. Read 7 ways to improve your CQC score for more tips.



CQC Quality Standards

The CQC Quality Standards, or fundamental standards, are a set of minimum requirements that the CQC expects from any care provision service. They are:


  • Person-centred care
  • Dignity and respect
  • Consent sought for all interventions
  • Safeguarding from abuse
  • Nutrition and hydration needs to be met
  • Adequate premises and equipment
  • Complaints to be taken seriously
  • Quality care monitored by systems
  • Suitable staffing to meet needs
  • Fit and proper staff 
  • Duty of candour
  • Display of ratings

Common issues

We find that there are a few common issues that can bring down a CQC rating. We’d advise working on these areas as you prepare for your CQC inspection.


Record keeping 

The CQC needs to see that you have detailed care planning and consistent documentation that is clear, up to date, and accessible to those who need it. Digital record systems can help you meet CQC standards in record keeping.


Risk assessments

Every client must have comprehensive risk assessments that reflect their own personal situation. Assessments must be reviewed and updated regularly, and should be accessible both from the office and during visits.


Quality assurance

As the manager of a home care agency, you are ultimately responsible for assuring that your service delivers top-quality care at all times. You can do this with regular audits and reviews and by viewing complaints as an opportunity to improve. The CQC wants to see that you learn lessons from mistakes and continually work to improve your service.



Be prepared - your CQC inspection could happen at any time

Remember that you won’t know when your inspection will happen, so you need to be working at a high standard all the time. The best way to be ready is to never not be ready. 

The CQC recently released a statement advising home care agencies to use digital record systems wherever possible, partly because the CQC can access digital records remotely to aid their inspection process. Digital records also make your inspection more streamlined and less stressful, as you no longer need to spend time filing, organising, and collating the paper records the CQC inspector asks for.


With a digital system like Birdie’s, where you can access everything at the click of a button, getting ready for an inspection means simply going about your work as on any other normal day. All the information and evidence you need is stored securely and easily accessible when you need it. We’ve designed it to meet CQC requirements while also providing ‘real time’ information for carers, managers, clients and their families to improve care.


Read more about the benefits of a digital records system and how Birdie’s tools can help you improve your CQC rating.


If you’re interested in digital care planning then get in touch — we provide free demo and training and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Our technology can help care agency owners everywhere to navigate the CQC inspection process and an ‘Outstanding’ rating. We’ve built Birdie to support care agencies to deliver truly enhanced care, and we strongly believe our technology can support you to achieve the best possible rating for your agency.

Get a free downloadable, printable tip sheet to help improve your CQC rating. Just click here to download yours now.

Got a CQC inspection coming up? Why not check out our top tips for getting prepped? Read the blog, here.

Want to find out more about CQC inspections? Check out our blog roundup of a talk held by Deanna Westwood, Head of CQC Inspections, held earlier this year. She talks about CQC's 2021 digital strategy and how they're evolving the ESF framework in the wake of COVID-19. Or if you're looking to capture evidence that proves your business is outstanding, get some top tips here, or find out how to improve your rating, here

You might also be interested in our on-demand webinar which focuses on improving your CQC score with care management software like Birdie.

Sign up for our CQC preparation webinar