If you provide adult social care services that are regulated activities under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, you must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

There are two main regulations the CQC focus on:

  1. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010
  2. The Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009.

Both of these regulations spell out the essential standards of quality and safety people in care have a right to expect.

Depending on the sector you’re in inspections make be held annually or every 2 years. You may be given notice, or you’ll be given none. If the CQC get reports of any breaches or problems they will also turn up unannounced.

The different types of inspections

The CQC mainly carry out three types of inspections:

responsive inspection is carried out at any time in response to identified concerns. This normally happens if a service is no longer meeting one or more of the standards.

themed inspection looks at specific themes that are set nationally in response to current issues or concerns.

scheduled inspection is planned by CQC in advance and can be carried out at any time.

A care home normally falls within the scheduled inspection bracket. The QCQ will aim to do this at least one a year. Their inspections most of the time are unannounced which means you won’t know they are coming.

This is why it’s vitally important all staff members know and adhere to regulations and best practices.

5 key questions

There are 5 main questions that the CQC inspection will want answers for.  These mainly focus on the experience people in your care have and the impact this has on their health and wellbeing. All judgements the QCC make are will be against regulations, judgments will be informed by these experiences.

So, if you’re wondering why inspectors spend a lot of time directly observing care and talking to those that receive it and they family. This is why. They may also check any records or speaking with staff to check their findings.

The five questions asked by the CQC about services are as follows:

  1. Are they safe?
  2. Are they effective?
  3. Are they caring?
  4. Are they responsive to people’s needs?
  5. Are they well-led?

 Added to that the CQC will review your safety standards expecting to see effective infection control measures.

These types of inspections are more focused on spotting non-compliance. However, where you are seen to be doing a good job it’s used to provide a balanced report in favour of your overall management.

Inspectors will specifically look for evidence that your premises are kept hygienically clean. Showing procedures that guard against the spread of infection. It will also be important that all staff understand their personal responsibilities in this regard.

You’ll also need to be ready to demonstrate policies and procedures regarding infection control. You’ll need to show these are being maintained and followed in accordance to national guidance.

The best way to prepare for a Care Quality commission inspection is… keep your standards high, every day, for very patient.

There really isn’t much more to it. You know the regulations and the importance of keeping to them.

If you’re keeping your standards high every day, you’re not going to get caught out by an inspection. Simple.

Ensure you use the correct products such as bedpan washers and washer disinfectors. Make sure all staff know that need to use them are ready to answer questions. If you have a sluice room ensure it’s strictly maintained.

There are certain things you can do to make sure the inspection goes as smoothly as possible though. Here are our 8 top tips for a successful CQC inspection:

  1. Make sure you have evidence to show that you are meeting standards.

Think about what information they are going to want. QOF performance stats, any policies, training records, staff qualifications etc.

  1. Anticipate the issues that the CQC inspector is likely to be concentrating on.

Infection control will be a big one here, especially in the years to come after the impact corona has had.

You’ll also need to consider CRB/DBS checks are up to date. Patient engagement is being looked at.  How you keep records, and the standard of equipment used and patient safety in the practice.

  1. Educate your staff on the role of the CQC

Inspectors may ask to talk to any member of staff so it will be best if they all have an understanding of the role the CQC plays.

Staff are legally responsible for their CQC obligations. They need to know about the essential QCQ standards and what your care home is doing to meet them

  1. Try not to overthink it.

Easier said than done I know. The CQC will want to see the care home “as it is” on a normal operating day.  Don’t try and do anything overboard or fake anything. You could arrange a mock inspection to help any staff anxiety.

  1. Don’t forget your results will be public.

So, it makes be best to agree on a contact who can handle any potential press or media enquiries. If you need to prepare a press statement. Use your website to outline any required improvements will be done.

Make sure you also correct any errors within the draft inspection report with the allowed timescale.

  1. What are the risks your services present? What are the risks of not meeting the CQC standards?

At the end of the day this is what the inspection is all about. They aren’t trying to “catch you out”.

Make sure you’re on top of things stuff as:

– confidentiality

– how the telephone is answered

– information for patients

– how staff speak to people

– whether full explanations about care are given

– whether chaperones are offered when appropriate.

It may be a good idea to have regular staff meetings to understand from their point of view what can be improved.

  1. Have important documents at the ready.

Patient records, DBS checks, everything they could ask for.

Make sure they are kept up to the right standard, are in the right format and are as complete as they need to be.

  1. Ensure all paperwork is up to date

Make sure all-important paperwork, policies etc are up to date. One key document is your “statement of purpose”. If anything has changed within your practice, new services or new staff for example this needs to be reflected. You need to do this within 28 days of the changes.

  1. Make patients aware they make be spoken to.

The inspectors will also want to talk to patients so it will be best to give them the heads up as well. Just a brief overview of the CQC and what is does, and the fact inspections are held should be enough.


Don’t treat the CQC as your enemy. Treat them with respect and it will be reciprocated.

Don’t go on the defensive.  Just demonstrate how you take care of patients at every level.

And if they arrive on an inconvenient day? – Suck it up. You should have nothing to worry about.