What is a CQC inspection?

Someone filling in a HS / CQC inspection questionnaire and assessing garden leave

CQC inspections are an important part of regulating health and social care providers in England.

While data, evidence, information and feedback play a large part in the CQC’s role, physical inspections are key in observing care – both generally speaking and against people’s records, to ensure individuals’ needs are being met.

Types of CQC inspections

There are two types of CQC inspections: comprehensive and focused.

Comprehensive inspections

As the name suggests, comprehensive inspections take a thorough look at all areas of your service to ensure the care you’re providing is safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.

When it comes to comprehensive inspections, there’s nothing set in stone with regards to the frequency of inspections, whether or not you’re given notice, and how big the visiting CQC inspection team is. These will largely depend on the type of service you provide.

Focused inspections

As implied by the name, focused inspections take a look at less of your service – although they do follow a fairly similar process to comprehensive inspections.

Focused inspections exist for two reasons:

  • To look at a specific concern – this concern may have been flagged during a comprehensive inspection or routine monitoring work, for example.
  • To follow up on a change in provider circumstances. For example, if you’ve been involved in an acquisition, merger or takeover.

As with comprehensive inspections, the size of the CQC inspection team will depend on what the inspection’s looking at – this will also determine who gets involved, too.

However, unlike comprehensive inspections, you might not always be asked all of the CQC’s five key questions – these are whether your care is safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.

CQC inspection process

If you have a visit from CQC inspectors, they’ll begin by meeting with senior members of staff, at which point they’ll introduce who they are, outline the scope and purpose of the inspection, and explain how they’ll communicate their findings after the inspection.

The exception to this introduction lies with GP practices, GP out-of-hours services and acute hospitals. If you fall into any of these categories, you’re expected to begin with a presentation outlining your own view of your performance.

Key lines of enquiry (KLOE)

Depending on the type of inspection, you’ll be asked all or some of the CQC’s key lines of enquiry. These, along with information gathered during the planning stage, give the inspectors an idea of any areas of concern and well-performing parts, helping them to structure their visit.

What are the key lines of enquiry?

The CQC have five key lines of enquiry:

KLOE Explanation
Are you safe? Do you protect service users from abuse and any form of avoidable harm?
Are you effective? Does the care, treatment and support you provide achieve good outcomes? Help maintain a good quality of life? And is it based on the best possible evidence?
Are you caring? Do your employees treat your service users with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect?
Are you responsive to people’s needs? Are your services organised in a way that meets the needs of its users?
Are you well-led? Do you provide high quality leadership, management and governance, that results in a high quality care for all your users’ needs? Do you encourage learning and innovation? And do you actively promote a fair and open culture?

Gathering evidence

Using the key lines of enquiry as a guideline, CQC inspectors will gather evidence on your service by:

  • Speaking to your employees.
  • Listening to what people who use your services say. This can be done in a number of ways, including, but not limited to: speaking to people on an individual or group level; reading feedback left on comment cards; and gathering information from service-user complaints and concerns.
  • Using various inspection methods, like: observing care; looking at individual care paths; reviewing records; looking at policies and procedures; and inspecting the areas where people are cared for.

Inspection feedback

Once the CQC inspectors are satisfied they’ve completed their visit, they’ll gather senior members of staff for a feedback meeting. During the meeting they’ll:

  • Summarise what they found during the inspection
  • Outline any issues they came across
  • Talk you through any action that requires immediate attention
  • Tell you if they have any announced inspections in the pipeline
  • Let you know how their decisions will be made and published.

What’s included in a CQC inspection report?

After they’ve inspected and made a judgement on the quality of your service, the CQC will publish a report on their website. Usually, your report will include a rating – either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

Within the report, you’ll find the CQC’s findings on each of their key lines of enquiry. They’ll highlight any instances of good practice, raise concerns, clearly evidence any cases where regulations have been breached, and recommend ways in which you can improve your rating.

To ensure consistency across all their reports, the CQC has a dedicated quality assurance panel who oversee samples of their rating judgements, so that everyone is fairly and justly reviewed.

You must respond to any areas of concern outlined in your report, by creating an action plan and making all the required improvements. The CQC will follow up on any concerns by either re-visiting your site and carrying out a focused inspection, or contacting you by phone or email.

How to plan for a CQC inspection

To help make planning for CQC inspections simpler, we designed our own online tool – CQC Pro.

With CQC Pro, you can easily gather, assess, monitor and manage everything in one, online, secure location. Even better, you can access it any time of the day, from anywhere in the world, so you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from what you need.

CQC Pro takes the complication out of compliance by:

  • Monitoring real time results and setting action plans – if needed
  • Displaying your compliance position in a way that’s easy to digest
  • Aiding constant improvement
  • Providing surveys that can be used by users, relatives and staff.

For more information on what we and CQC Pro can do for you, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk.

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