CQC Inspections: What a Care Home Can Expect

Tips to beat the CQC standards for care homes

For many care homes, the mention of a CQC inspection is enough to send shivers down spines. It shouldn’t be like this, but the fear of a member of staff making a mistake is real. In this article, you’ll learn what you should expect when the CQC inspectors come calling, and how to ensure you meet and beat the CQC standards for care homes.

Two types of CQC inspection

The CQC carries out two types of care home inspections.

The first is a regular, comprehensive check. They inspect across five care home standards, ensuring that your care home is competent across five key questions:

  • Safety
  • Caring
  • Effectiveness
  • Responsiveness to needs
  • Well-led

The second type of inspection is the focused inspection. These are smaller and shorter, and concentrate on something that the CQC may be concerned about because of:

  • The results of a comprehensive inspection, where certain areas of concern have been raised
  • A change in the care home’s circumstances, such as a change of ownership

A focused inspection does not always cover all five key questions.

How CQC inspections are carried out

Both types of CQC inspection follow a similar routine:

  1. It starts with introductions, explaining who the inspection team are, what and why they are inspecting, and how they will tell you of their findings.
  2. They will speak to your residents, and possibly their families.
  3. They will interview your employees.

The inspection team might gather evidence in a variety of ways, including:

  • Using comment cards
  • Reviewing information from complaints made
  • Observing care given
  • Reading policy and procedural documentation

When the inspection is complete, you can expect a feedback meeting during which you will receive:

  • A summary of findings
  • Issues to be raised
  • Actions that should be taken
  • Plans for further visits
  • Explanation of how the CQC judgements will be made public

Why training is important to the CQC

Knowing the areas in which the CQC expects you to reach certain standards gives you big clues about how to ensure you meet those standards. Quality training is central to these efforts:


Your residents must feel safe from harm and abuse. Well-trained staff put residents at ease, and conduct their duties with certainty of knowledge and greater experience.


How care and treatment is given is as important as what care and treatment is given. Residents deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, and dignity. Many care home staff, particularly when first starting in the sector, may have little experience of dealing with people with care needs. Training should concentrate on both the care given and how it is given.


The CQC inspection team will want to ensure that the care provided reaches the standards expected. It must be effective, with appropriate care, treatment, and support provided in all situations. For these elements of care to be effective, your staff must be trained effectively.


Different residents will have different needs. Comprehensive training allows care workers to recognise these differences and provide effective responses. Training regimes that allow people to develop their skills and encompass the abilities needed for all your residents help to ensure you offer individualised services tailored to the needs of each resident.


Last but not least, good leadership is vital. The CQC want to see that care home management promotes innovation and learning with a training strategy that adds value to care homes, care workers, and residents, in an open and honest environment.

The art of being outstanding

We’ve analysed CQC inspections of care homes, and found the practices that are common among those care homes that have been rated outstanding. We call this ‘the art of being outstanding’. To learn more, download our whitepaper here.



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