Care Quality Commission
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Choosing care is one of life's most stressful moments, finds CQC

CQC ratings will ease the pressures of the growing 'sandwich generation'. 

Eight out of ten people find that choosing care for an older relative is one of the most stressful moments in life, according to a survey arranged by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

In the survey, carried out through the websites, Mumsnet and Gransnet, 84% of respondents reported that choosing care for their parent or other older relative was 'very stressful' or 'quite stressful' – ranking it higher than getting divorced or separating from a partner, choosing a school for their child, getting married, and buying a house.

The finding comes as CQC begins to roll out its new way of inspecting and regulating care homes and other Adult Social Care services across England this month.

Specialist teams, including trained members of the public (called Experts by Experience), will inspect services against what matters most to the people who use them – are they safe, caring, effective, responsive to their needs, and well-led.

CQC will then rate these services as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate so that the public has clear information to help them make choices about their care.

Over three quarters (76%) of those who took part in the survey said that knowing a service has been rated as Good or Outstanding would give them more confidence in it, while 86% reported that having an independent body that they could share their care concerns with would do this.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission said: "Helping people to choose care for an older loved one can be a very difficult and emotional time for people, especially if they have to do this while juggling the demands of parenthood and working life.

"I want to assure anyone who is in this situation that help is at hand from CQC to support them in making informed choices about care.

"From this month, we are introducing our strengthened way of inspecting care homes and other Adult Social Care services across England, using expert inspectors who will base their judgements on what matters most to the people who use them. We will rate services as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate so that the public has clear, jargon-free and reliable information of what we have found.

"Working with the sector, this will remove the mystery that often shrouds care homes and other services and help people to have confidence in their care services and their choices."

Justine Roberts, Chief Executive of Mumsnet said: "Our users have told us that balancing the needs of elderly parents or grandparents while looking after young children is one of the most stressful times of their lives. Easy to access information can help, so we're glad to see the CQC's new ratings for care, which can smooth the process for people choosing care for their loved ones."

The survey was aimed at people with dual care responsibilities, dubbed the 'sandwich generation'; so called because they find themselves caring for their ageing parents while supporting their own children.

Carers UK estimates that there are around 2.4 million people in this situation, with numbers expected to rise with the ageing population. Carers UK estimates in 2015, there will be 5.4 million people aged over 75 years who will need to receive Adult Social Care, with this set to rise to 8.8 million by 2035.

Helena Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: "Our ageing population means caring for older or disabled loved ones will be a reality for us all at some point in our lives. At that point we will all want the best for our loved ones. Juggling the care we want for those we care about, alongside work and family commitments can be stressful and confusing. Families need the support of information and advice, affordable, good quality care services and they need clear reassurance of standards and rigorous, reliable monitoring of services provided."

Suzi Webster, one of CQC's Expert by Experience who has dual care responsibilities said: "Having been the main carer for my grandmother who was in a residential home and helping to care for my own mother, I appreciate just how important it is to know that your loved one is receiving the best possible care and support.

"Using my personal experiences of care as part of CQC's inspection teams, I have seen some examples of amazing care, as well as some not-so-good care.

"I feel the introduction of CQC's new approach to inspection, and its ratings will help to ease people’s stress by enabling them to have confidence in the services they choose. Care should always be about the person and not just the task."


For media enquiries about the Care Quality Commission, please call the CQC press office on 020 7448 9401 during office hours or out-of-hours on 07917 232 143. For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:

6 October 2014

Notes to editors

  • For further information about the 'sandwich generation' survey, including a summary report and an infographic, please visit:
  • A range of case studies of people with dual care responsibilities (i.e. within the 'sandwich generation') are available on request from the CQC press office.
  • The survey was carried out between July and August 2014. All of the 259 respondents are 'Mumsnetters' and 'Gransnetters' in England who have, or care for, at least one child aged under 17 years of age.
  • There are around 26,264 adult social care services in England, including 17,350 care homes and 8,110 home care services. By March 2016, CQC expects to have rated every Adult Social Care service in England as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate.
  • Last week, CQC published the questions (called 'key lines of enquiry') that its inspection teams will use to guide them on their visits, as well as descriptions of what care would look like for each of these ratings. The guidance will be used by CQC's inspection teams when they inspect care homes and community services to help them be consistent when making their judgements. For care providers, it can help them to understand the sorts of things that CQC's inspection teams will be focusing on and help to know what CQC will be looking for when awarding its ratings. For further information, please
  • Carers UK estimates that there are 2.4 million carers within the 'sandwich generation'. For further information, please read Sandwich Caring: Combining childcare with caring for older or disabled relatives (2012):
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