Care Quality Commission
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A fresh start for inspecting adult social care services: New Chief Inspector sets out her initial priorities

In her first major announcement as the Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, today (Tuesday 15 October) Andrea Sutcliffe has outlined her priorities for transforming how the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will monitor, inspect and regulate care homes and other adult social care services, with a greater focus on public involvement and improvement.

Key proposals include awarding ratings to every care home and adult social care service by March 2016 to help people make informed decisions about their care and establishing expert inspection teams involving people who have experience of care services.

The Chief Inspector’s plans and priorities are set out in A Fresh Start for the Regulation and Inspection of Adult Social Care, ahead of a full public consultation in spring 2014.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care said: “This is a fresh start for how care homes, home care, and other adult social care services are inspected and regulated across the country. I will be leading CQC’s new approach by making more use of people’s views and by using expert inspection teams involving people who have personal experience of care.

“We will always be on the side of the people who use care services. For every care service we look at, I want us to ask, is this good enough for my Mum? If it is, this should be celebrated. If not, then as the regulator, we will take action.

“Our assessments will be based on expert judgement, not regulatory compliance. You cannot regulate for love, compassion, tenderness, dignity and respect but these are values that our inspectors will be looking for. Adult social care is the largest and fastest growing sector that CQC regulates and so it is imperative that we get it right.

A Fresh Start sets out my initial priorities so that we can build confidence in CQC’s role and support our staff to deliver. I am looking forward to working with everyone in this vitally important area as we develop our approach in the coming months.”

Inspections of adult social care services will be structured around the five key questions that matter most to people – are the services safe, caring, effective, well-led and responsive to people’s needs. CQC will explore what each of these means for the adult social care sector.

CQC intends to rate care services as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, so that the public has clear information about services. As part of these changes, CQC will explore how its ratings can encourage services to improve and how they can influence the timing of future inspections.

Other plans and priorities in A Fresh Start for Adult Social Care include:

  • From April 2015 and subject to the Care Bill becoming law, CQC will monitor the finances of an estimated 50 to 60 care providers that would be difficult to replace if they were to go out of business.
  • CQC will take a tougher stance when registering care services by ensuring that those who apply to run them have the right values, motives, ability and experience. Also, CQC is committed to taking tougher action against services that do not have registered managers in place.
  • CQC will discuss the risks and potential benefits of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras to monitor care, and whether they could contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality, while respecting people’s privacy and dignity.
  • CQC will encourage those providing care in residential homes to explore how they can be involved in the local community and will work with Healthwatch to get its views on care homes locally.

The next steps are for CQC to discuss and explore these proposals with the public, people who use services and their carers, care providers, CQC’s own staff, and organisations with an interest in its work, ahead its public consultation in spring 2014.

Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister said: “No one should have to put up with substandard care - there are serious flaws in the system when people are worrying about the quality of care their loved ones are receiving. We have made it clear that there must be a sharper focus on taking tougher action when things go wrong and holding those responsible to account.

“Confidence in the regulation regime has been shaken, but we have turned a corner. I welcome the Chief Inspector’s new commitment to protecting people vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and to delivering better care."

Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of the English Community Care Association said: “The appointment of a Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care is a positive step and the development of a new approach to how CQC will regulate and inspect care services, offers an opportunity to ensure that high quality regulation is the foundation of good quality care.”

Sandie Keene, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said: “Providing the public with a reliable means of assessing the quality of the experience they can expect to have, when arranging their care, is a fundamental part of the new duties and responsibilities our sector is taking on. ADASS very much welcomes this initiative.”

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


Notes to editors

The signposting document, A Fresh Start for the Regulation and Inspection of Adult Social Care is available below.

The top ten changes highlighted in the document are:

  1. More systematic use of people’s views and experiences, including complaints
  2. Inspections by expert inspectors, with more experts by experience and specialist advisors
  3. Tougher action in response to breaches of regulations, particularly when services are without a registered manager for too long
  4. Checking providers who apply to be registered have the right values, motives, ability and experience
  5. Ratings to support people’s choice of service and drive improvement
  6. Frequency of inspection to be based on ratings rather than annually
  7. Better data and analysis to help us target our efforts
  8. New standards and guidance to underpin the five key questions we ask of services – are they safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led? – with personalisation and choice at their heart
  9. Avoiding duplicating activity with Local Authorities
  10. Focus on leadership, governance and culture with a different approach for larger and smaller providers

There are over 12,600 social care providers registered with CQC, operating services across nearly 25,000 residential care homes, nursing homes, domiciliary care agencies and other locations in England.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care. 

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