Healthcare providers and facilities, alongside staff and management in these sectors have a duty to provide good quality care and treatment. But with healthcare being different depending on various factors, it must be properly and fairly regulated by an independent body. This is where the Care Quality Commission becomes important.

Here, we’ll give a full overview of what the Care Quality Commission is, why it was set up and the reasons why it’s such a crucial responsibility in healthcare settings across the UK.

What is the Care Quality Commission?

The Care Quality Commission, or CQC, is an independent UK-based organisation dedicated to monitoring, inspecting, and regulating businesses, facilities and locations carrying out healthcare services. Their main responsibility lies in ensuring these services are meeting standards that take the level of care, safety, hygiene and performance into account.

What is the purpose of the Care Quality Commission?

The CQC ensures healthcare providers and facilities are treating residents with the care and respect required, alongside offering advice for how service providers can improve. This is also a way to hold these facilities and businesses accountable for the level of care they’re providing and how they can improve. Any business providing care must meet the standards set by the commission in order to continue operating.  

When was the Care Quality Commission first introduced?

The CQC was established in April 2009 to replace three former regulatory bodies, including the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission. Since then, the regulatory body has been responsible for the registration, inspection and monitoring of all health and adult social care providers under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Which services are inspected by the CQC?

The CQC covers the entirety of the healthcare industry in the UK, including but not limited to the following services:

  • Care homes
  • Services in the home
  • Clinics
  • Dentists
  • GP services
  • Hospitals
  • Community services
  • Mental health services
  • Service providers

These services will regularly undergo the inspection process and must hold an up-to-date CQC rating.

Overview of the CQC inspection process

The CQC carries out inspections on relevant locations or services every three years. This helps ensure that providers in the industry are regularly reassessed and held to the key care fundamental standards. During this inspection, the CQC team will cover five main questions, alongside rating the services and environment on a four-point scale ranging from ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’.

Inspectors can gather any relevant information on services by doing the following:

  • Speaking with clients or individuals who use the services
  • Holding focus groups with staff or patients to listen to opinions on the services
  • Conducting drop-in sessions with members of staff allowing them to speak freely
  • Interviewing senior staff members
  • Testing to find out if all systems are properly in place

If any part of the inspection fails to live up to the standards or doesn’t fall within the acceptable limit, the CQC can schedule further visits to ensure the business or location improves wherever necessary.

What are the Care Quality Commission’s values?

The Care Quality Commission operates on its core values, which are excellence, caring, integrity and teamwork. These values are the backbone of their role as an independent regulator and help them stay focussed on making sure health and social care services in the UK are providing people with safe, effective and compassionate care. This also means that they operate fairly when inspecting healthcare businesses and are always looking for ways to improve their own processes.

Key care fundamental standards

Under the CQC, there are several fundamental standards which care should always meet or exceed. Everybody has a right to expect the following standards from all care facilities or services regardless of where they are in the UK:

Person-centred care: Care or treatment offered must be tailored to each individual’s needs and preferences, which is an important standard since everybody has different requirements and wishes when it comes to care.

Consent: The person receiving care (or somebody legally acting on their behalf) must give consent before receiving any treatment or care.This helps avoid any legal issuesand improves clarity.

Safety: Patients shouldn’t be subject to unsafe care or treatment, nor should they be put at risk of any avoidable harm.This standard is in place to make sure that healthcare providers properly assess any risks to patient health and safety during care or treatment by conducting all relevant risk assessments.

Rating display: Care providers or facilities must display their CQC rating somewhere visible, and information about their rating and the latest CQC report must be available to view on their website. This promoteshonesty and transparency in healthcare services and can help patients choose which providers and services to accept care from.

Dignity & respect: Individuals must be treated with the appropriate dignity and respect throughout their care or treatment experience. This includes providing privacy when needed and asked for, being treated equally and being provided with any support needed for them to remain independent and involved in the local community.

Food & drink: A sufficient amount of appropriate food and drink must be given to help maintain good patient health throughout treatment or care. This is especially important for those with dietary requirements such as allergies and can be linked to patient wellbeing.

Staffing: Care providers must employ enough suitably qualified, competent and experienced staff to help them meet the other standards. Staff must also be given the support, training and supervision they need to fulfil their roles. Healthcare providers therefore need to have strong recruitment procedures in place which include carrying out relevant background and criminal checks.

Premises & equipment: Care facilities and equipment must be clean, suitable and properly looked after alongside being well secured and used correctly. Failure to do so could lead to poor hygiene practices and unsafe treatment or care.

Safeguarding: Individuals shouldn’t suffer any type of abuse or improper treatment when receiving care. This includes but isn’t limited to neglect, degrading treatment, unnecessary or disproportionate restraint, and inappropriate limits on freedom.This standard helps keep patients safe and protects their welfare.

Duty of candour: Healthcare providers and facilities must be open, honest and transparent with patients about their care and treatment. This means that if something goes wrong, they need to tell patients what happened, provide relevant support and offer an apology. This standard holds providers and facilities accountable for their actions and mistakes.

Governance: Care facilities and providers must create a plan to help them meet the standards set out by the Care Quality Commission. This involves effective governance and systems to check on the quality and safety of care being provided. These must be set up to help improve services and keep the risk of issues around health, safety and welfare low.

Complaints: There must be provisions and systems in place for individuals who would like to complain about their care or treatment. Complaints must be handled and investigated fairly and thoroughly, and any problems should be identified and actioned for improvement. This allows patients to have their say in whether they’re happy with the quality of the care or treatment received.

Visiting: Those receiving care or treatment in a hospital, care home or hospice should be able to have visitors.Individuals living in care homes should be able to go out without any issues, while those who need to visit a hospital or hospice for an appointment can be accompanied by somebody else.

For healthcare providers, services and facilities, the Care Quality Commission is an essential part of making sure you can uphold the necessary standards and make sure those under your care are receiving good quality provisions. For more insights into everything from care standards to catering in healthcare services, check out our blog.