OnePlans Guide to CQC Inspections


If you are a new provider awaiting your first inspection, or haven’t had one in your current role it can be difficult to know what to expect! Here’s our short overview to help you prepare.

What is the CQC?

The CQC, or Care Quality Commission, is an independent regulatory body for all health and 
care services. You can read about them at:

The CQC registers, monitors, inspects and rates care services and takes action where necessary to protect those who use services.

The CQC regulates and inspects different services in different ways however it always involves:

-      Registering care providers.
-      Using data, evidence and information.
-      Using feedback
-      Inspections by experts
-      Publishing information and ratings to help care users choose care providers.
-      Take action on services that need to improve and holding providers accountable.

As a care provider you must first register with the CQC and prove you meet the necessary requirements. (see for a comprehensive list). Services are then monitored continuously.

What do they look for in an inspection?

There are five main questions

-      Are you safe?
-      Are you effective?
-      Are you caring?
-      Are you responsive to peoples needs?
-      Are you well led?

Each question is assessed by a further set of questions called ‘key lines of enquiry’.

The types of information they will look at include local information, your ‘Provider Information Return’, feedback from people who use your services, families, staff, carers and other professionals and information collected during the inspection.

You can prepare for an inspection by gathering your records, important documents and company policies. If you have an electronic system this should be even easier! 

Who will be at the inspection?

Inspectors are usually specialists such as clinicians or pharmacists, or ’Experts by Experience’ who are people who have experience in the care industry either as a case user or provider. The size of the inspection team depends on the provider, but for smaller companies you can expect one or two inspectors.

What will happen during the inspection?

Your inspectors will meet with senior staff to explain what they will be looking at and how they will communicate their findings. The inspectors will then collect evidence for each of the key lines of enquiry, looking at documentation, records, the locations where care takes place and speaking to staff. At the end of the visit they will give a summary and highlight any issues or points requiring urgent action.

For more information about inspections and what to expect visit :

Our Top Tips to prepare for your inspection:

1     Ensure you have a good understanding of what it means to be compliant and have good measures in place including policies and plans to maintain compliance.
2     Read other providers reports to gain an understanding of what CQC inspectors look at and compare how your service would perform in those areas. This will helps identify areas for improvement.
3     Regularly ask for feedback- from both staff, clients and their families in order to identify any areas for improvement (the CQC will also do this).
4     Make sure all your records are kept safe and accessible so you can locate them for your visit.
5     Consider using a cloud-based electronic call monitoring system- your records will be safe and accessible at all times. It is also becoming more common for bodies to request care providers use an electronic system for accessibility, data protection and health and safety.

Find out more about why you should be using an electronic call monitoring system in our latest blog ‘How a good care plan software could improve your CQC rating’ : 

Example from the CQC (Source:  Last updated 8 August 2018)

‘We carried out this inspection under Section 60 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 as part of our regulatory functions. This inspection checked whether the provider is meeting the legal requirements and regulations associated with the Health and Social Care Act 2008, to look at the overall quality of the service, and to provide a rating for the service under the Care Act 2014.
This inspection took place on 27 and 28 June 2018 and was announced. The provider was given 48 hours’ notice as the service provides domiciliary care, and we wanted to be sure staff and people who used the service would be available to speak with us.
The inspection was conducted by two adult social care inspectors.
We visited the office location on 27 June 2018, to see the registered manager, office staff and to review care records, policies and procedures. We also made phone calls to people in their own homes on 27 June and 28 June 2018. Additionally, we had requested some information to be sent to use by email before and after our site visit. 
Before our inspection visit, we reviewed the information we held about Community Care Direct. This included looking at the notifications we had received from the provider about any incidents that may have impacted on the health, safety and welfare of people who used the service. We also looked at the Provider Information Return (PIR) we received from the provider prior to our inspection. This form asks the provider to give some key information about the service, what the service does well and what improvements they plan to make. 
We spoke to five people who used the service. We spoke with five staff, the registered manager and provider. We looked at the care plans belonging to four people and other related records. We checked the recruitment files for four staff. We also looked at other documentation associated with the running of the service.’

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