All home care agencies, or home care providers, are registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC exists to ensure that every home care agency in the UK is meeting certain standards and delivering quality care.
The CQC also regulates a number of health and social care services, including hospitals, GP practices and care homes.
What does the Care Quality Commission do?
On its website, the CQC explains its primary aim:
“We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find, including performance ratings to help people choose care.”
Every home care agency in the UK is regularly visited by the CQC and an inspection is carried out. By law, the results of every CQC inspection must be displayed on a care provider’s website. There are four bands of results (ratings):
Outstanding: service is performing exceptionally well.
Good: service is performing well and meeting the CQC’s expectations.
Requires Improvement: service is not performing as well as it should and the CQC has told the service how it must improve.
Inadequate: service is performing badly and the CQC has taken action against the person or organisation that runs it.
You can find the inspection results of every home care agency in the country on the CQC’s website here.
The CQC rightfully believes that care providers, agenciesm, live in carers and visiting carers should treat individuals with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect. During the course of inspections, an inspector will work to determine whether a home care provider is doing so.
These include: a focus on person-centred care; treating service users with dignity and respect; obtaining consent from service users; operating safely; safeguarding service users from abuse; ensuring service users obtain good food and drink; good maintenance of equipment; responding to complaints; good governance; adequate staffing; fit and proper staff; a duty of candour (being open and transparent); and displaying ratings.
These are the standards below which care being provided must not fall. The CQC plays a crucial safeguarding role in the home care sector, protecting people’s health, well-being and human rights. This is very important to the provision of high quality care.
What does a CQC inspection involve?
All home care providers are periodically visited by a CQC inspector. During an inspection, the CQC inspector contacts an agency’s clients (people who use the home care service), as well as care staff and relevant professionals for their feedback on the home care provider.
This can be over the phone, or by visiting them in person. The inspector also reviews relevant records.
The CQC explains that it always asks five questions when inspecting a home care service. These questions sit at the heart of how the CQC regulates home care agencies:
Are they safe?
Are they effective?
Are they caring?
Are they responsive to people’s needs?
Are they well-led?
The CQC uses the answers to these questions to analyse how well a home care agency is performing.
At the end of the visit, the inspector meets with the Registered Manager of the home care agency to provide feedback. The CQC will carry out further analysis of the information reviewed during the inspection and assign a rating to the home care provider. The CQC compiles an inspection report, outlining its findings.
This rating and report must then be displayed to the public and is accessible via the CQC website.
Finding a CQC Rating
You can find the CQC rating of any home care provider on the CQC’s website, under Services In Your Home. You can the enter your postcode and locate the service you’re looking for. Every care provider must also display their CQC rating on their website and in their offices.