Preparing for a CQC inspection? Feeling unsure about whether you have everything you need to evidence your care delivery?
A recent survey that I conducted on Registered Managers reported that respondents stated that they have heightened emotions when they know an inspector is coming. Although this is perfectly normal, it's helpful to know how to alleviate some of those emotions.
In this week’s blog post, I explore 8 tips on how to prepare for a CQC inspection so that you can ensure that your teams and services are regulator ready.
1. Stay up to date on the Care Quality Commission
Before anything, make sure you are keeping up with any regulatory changes and developments. With the CQC recently changing their inspection process into a single assessment framework, it is important that you understand how the regulator could inspect your service.
How will CQC inspections change in 2023?
Historically, inspections were conducted face-to-face, with the CQC visiting you and going through records and documentation. However, as the care industry moves into a digital way of working with digital social care records (DSCR), this is more likely to be remote.
The CQC have stated that the provider information return (PIR) is still an important part of the information gathering process, and their new provider portal will make it easier to collate information from providers, NHS England, Local Authorities and other sources. This data will create a more real time view of the service, and allow the inspector to make an informed decision to the outcome of the inspection.
Will CQC ratings change?
The CQC will keep their current inspection ratings.
However, unlike now where you could go a couple of years without an inspection, due to being data-led, inspections will take place more frequently, although the CQC have not stated how often this will be.
The current inspection ratings are:
- Requires Improvement
The CQC hosts a number of webinars, so make sure you register for their newsletters to stay up to date with their changes. The visual below shows how they are changing their approach.
2. Review your policies and procedures
A number of recent CQC inspection reports have focused on policies and procedures, and highlighted how these have not been updated or are written too generically.
Make sure that you review policies and procedures on a regular basis, to ensure they are current, factual, and represent your service and what you are doing day to day.
3. Review your staff training and development plans
The regulator does not stipulate what training you should be providing to employees, or how frequently this should be provided.
Historically, the CQC have stated that ‘providers must deploy sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to make sure that they can meet people's care and treatment needs and therefore meet the requirements of Section 2 of these regulations (the fundamental standards)’.
On 11th August 2023, they did update Regulation 18: Staffing, stating:
- Providers must ensure that they have an induction programme that prepares staff for their role. It is expected that providers that employ healthcare assistants and social care support workers should follow the Care Certificate standards to make sure new staff are supported, skilled and assessed as competent to carry out their roles.
- Training, learning and development needs of individual staff members must be carried out at the start of employment and reviewed at appropriate intervals during the course of employment. Staff must be supported to undertake training, learning and development to enable them to fulfil the requirements of their role.
- Providers must ensure that all staff receive training in how to interact appropriately with people with a learning disability and autistic people, at a level appropriate to their role.
They also stated that staff should be supported to make sure they can participate in:
- Statutory training.
- Other mandatory training, as defined by the provider for their role.
- Any additional training identified as necessary to carry out regulated activities as part of their job duties and, in particular, to maintain necessary skills to meet the needs of the people they care for and support.
- Other learning and development opportunities required to enable them to fulfil their role. This includes first aid training for people working in the adult social care sector.
- All learning and development and required training completed should be monitored and appropriate action taken quickly when training requirements are not being met.
- Providers must support staff to obtain appropriate further qualifications that would enable them to continue to perform their role.
- Providers must not act in a way that prevents or limits staff from obtaining further qualifications that are appropriate to their role.
To prepare for your CQC inspection with staff training in mind, make sure you keep an up-to-date training matrix. You should be able to evidence how you support staff with ongoing training, personal development, and how you as a provider stay up to date with the latest regulations and practices.
4. Review your health and safety and infection control
Health and Safety and Infection Control remain hot topics. Make sure you are auditing your services on a regular basis, with actions being dealt with in a timely manner.
The regulator will want reassurance that you have systems in place to:
- Learn from incidents and accidents
- Evidence how you learned from them
- Take steps to reduce or stop them from happening again in the future.
Health and Safety includes risk assessments, fire safety, and infection prevention measures.
5. Review your care plans
Care plans should be reviewed and updated as and when there are any changes, or at least monthly to ensure that the care and support being provided meets the needs of the individual and is being given in a way that the person would like to receive.
Evidencing reviews and quick responses to changes in care needs will show the CQC that you are responsive and effective to people’s needs and preferences.
6. Undertake a mock inspection
This doesn’t have to be something you do yourself internally. I would always recommend using a social care consultant or third party as they will come in with a fresh pair of eyes and provide actions and tips on how (and what) to improve.
Make sure that you keep copies of:
- Any external inspections
- The actions
- The lessons learnt
This is beneficial because you can use these as evidence in your CQC inspection. However, ensure that the mock inspection is not a one-off, and that it is done on a regular basis.
7. Capture stories
We all know that our brain goes out the window when the inspector calls, so ensure you capture client experiences that fit, or are similar to, the following:
- Success stories
- Events that have had a positive impact on someone’s life
- Case studies and more
Capture these throughout the months, as these are all great things to have to hand during an inspection.
8. Audit your care notes
Audit care notes and ensure they are detailed, factual and legible. Address areas of concern and up-skill staff where needed.
Care notes are also part of your evidence of the care being delivered and can help demonstrate what your team are doing if an inspection checks the notes.
I hope the above has helped you prepare for a CQC inspection. But above all: please ensure that you speak about the CQC, inspection processes, and its changes during team meetings and day-to-day conversations.
Break down the stigma of the CQC being scary people, and embrace them as people who come to provide feedback and enhance the quality of care where it may not meet expectations.
We can all improve, and this is all part of that continuous loop of improvement planning.
Download your free CQC PIR guidance and CQC inspection checklist
Log my Care has a 10-step CQC inspection checklist that you can download to help you prepare, as well as a provider information return (PIR) template to help you practice answering questions ahead of your inspection. You can download the PIR template below.
Links to stay up to date with the CQC
You can stay in touch with the regulator and their updates here: