Who are CQC?
The Care Quality Commission (or CQC as they are more often referred to) are the regulatory body for all care homes in the United Kingdom, as well as other treatment centres, such as hospices and GP surgeries. It was formed by the merging of the Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and the Mental Health Act Commission, and began operating on 1 st April 2009.
What do they do?
CQC regulate all care homes in the UK, which not only involves providing inspections of services to ensure that they are delivering quality and appropriate care, but also guidelines and advice. They are also involved in investigating safeguarding concerns that have been raised, which has unfortunately resulted in some high-profile news over the last several years.
How do CQC rate care homes?
CQC, during their inspections, will look at 5 areas. These are called their Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs):
- Is the service safe?
- Is the service well-led?
- Is the service effective?
- Is the service caring?
- Is the service response to people’s needs?
Each of these areas are then broken down into more specific categories, such as looking at the comprehensiveness of care plans for residents, staff training and qualifications, and the premises itself.
An inspection will be carried out by a CQC inspector, who may also be accompanied by an ‘expert by experience’, which could include a GP, Registered Nurse, Mental Health Nurse, or another inspector. This will depend on the type of service, and this accompanying person will have the skills and experience to look at certain areas in more detail (e.g. a Registered Nurse looking at the medication for all residents). Inspections can be carried out in one day, but can also be over two or more days if needed. Inspectors will take the time to not only look at the documentation and working practices of the service, but also to observe in communal areas, and speak to residents, family members, visiting health professionals and staff.
Once an inspection has been carried out, everything that has been observed will contribute to both a rating for each area (Inadequate, Requires Improvement, Good, Outstanding), as well as an overall rating for the service. In serious cases, CQC hold the power to close a service, if there is an imminent risk to residents or staff as a result of their findings.
Why are CQC important?
As well as being the inspecting body of all services in the UK, and ensuring they are delivering good- quality care in an appropriate way, CQC also offer advice and guidance to both professionals and families, as well as being able to deal with a large range of issues and queries, in a way that the preceding bodies would have struggled to. This is the main reason why the merging took place, to allow a more consistent and streamlined service to all those who needed it.
Inspection reports and information about services can be found on the CQC website, which can be of use to families who are looking into care arrangements for a loved one, as it shows them more information on potential services, and how they rate compared to others.