First of all, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections are a good thing. It is important that there is accountability so that people placing their trust in care services can have confidence that the system is properly regulated.
Accountability also helps providers with common performance benchmarks and guidance on where we can improve.
To make best use of CQC inspection reports when choosing a care home or home care provider, it can help to understand a bit of background and context. Inspectors report on whether services are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led. There are four possible ratings: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate. There is no category for ‘satisfactory.’
Some of the inspection rating is based on documentation such as procedures and record keeping and some of it is essentially a snapshot of what inspectors saw and who they spoke to. So, there could be some subjectivity in the findings- there’s also potentially some randomness based on exactly when the inspection happened.
There’s no doubt too, that some providers are better at the process of preparing for inspections than others. Although you could argue that this is what you’d expect from a well-managed organisation.
What do Ratings Mean?
Don’t dismiss homes simply if they are not Outstanding or Good. Care providers, and more importantly, care users are highly individual and other factors should also be considered.
For example, a home with a lower rating may be a better choice for an individual if the location makes it easier for relatives to visit and for the resident to maintain links with the community they come from. It may be that the facilities and activities on offer are more in line with what a particular person wants.
Similarly, you shouldn’t necessarily be put off a care home because its CQC rating at its last inspection was ‘Requires Improvement.’ There may not be that much practical difference between a provider that just got over the threshold to be rated ‘Good’ and one that didn’t quite make it.
If a home or provider is said to require improvement, it’s important to understand what this means. It could be that they provide essentially safe and effective care but need to tighten up some of their management processes. Even a provider with an ‘Inadequate’ rating shouldn’t be discounted out of hand if the management is taking urgent and purposeful action to correct the shortcomings found in the inspection.
The best way to identify the most suitable care home is to arrange a visit during a normal day to see for yourself whether residents look happy and well cared for. By all means, take along a copy of the most recent inspection report and talk through any concerns with the manager. More importantly, go with an open mind and ask: ‘is this a place where I or my loved one could live the life they want to live. To arrange a visit at any of our ‘Good’ care homes, contact us today on 01305 300 161.