Getting a much sought-after rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is a highlight for care home staff, managers and owners. It shows that their hard work and dedication has paid off and are now able to proudly show that they’re providing a great quality of care for their residents. However, it’s not long before the CQC returns for a re-inspection of a care home. So, how can you ensure that a care home remains ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ at its next inspection?
How hard is it to keep a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ CQC rating?
Getting a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating is no easy task — and it’s not easy to retain it either! Care Quality Commission (CQC) figures from November suggest that only 4.1% of care homes in England were rated ‘outstanding’, whilst 74.2% were rated ‘good’. However, in both cases, the current numbers are 1% lower than 12 months ago and gradually falling.
This goes to show that, whilst a majority of care homes do fall within the top two ratings, there’s no guarantee you’ll keep your care home rating and reaching ‘outstanding’ is a huge challenge.
Are there regional trends in CQC ratings?
Yes – it is possible to see regional variations in the latest CQC data. For example, the North East has witnessed a 2.1% decrease in the percentage of its care homes rated ‘good’ in Q3 2022 since the same time last year. This is despite the number of ‘outstanding’ care homes in the region remaining largely consistent. This suggests that many care homes in the ‘good’ rating bracket have been reduced to either ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ ratings.
A lower CQC rating might spark concern amongst residents and their families, staff and the wider community, so protecting or improving it should always be your aim. But what can you do to ensure your care home protects its rating?
Tip 1: Focus on areas of improvement
When you receive your CQC rating, a report will be produced that will highlight areas of the care service that could be improved – even for ‘outstanding’ care homes. If your care home is rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, these areas of improvement may not include crucial processes, such as Infection, Prevention and Control. Instead, they may be more likely to indicate minor efficiencies that have not been noticed by care home staff.
However, just because the CQC’s recommendations are not critical issues, does not mean they should be ignored. The regulator will want to see that you’ve taken their recommendations into account when they conduct their next inspection.
Tip 2: Don’t forget the ‘good’ things you were already doing
Just because the CQC has noted that you’re doing something especially well, does not mean that it can vanish from your radar. Regularly evaluate your systems with your care staff to make sure the standard and quality of care is consistent and sustainable.
Tip 3: Document and evidence every improvement you make
The inspector will want to see a paper trail of key decisions and steps you’ve taken to maintain and improve your care home. This makes maintaining an orderly system for documenting changes in your care home pivotal — and easy to manage using a digital QMS.
Tip 4: Do internal audits and mock inspections
The best way to prepare for an inspection is by performing internal audits and mock inspections. This will help to quickly signpost any areas that need attention, as well as where certain processes are excelling.
Whilst you can, of course, perform an internal audit, the best way to make sure you have every base covered is by getting a fresh pair of eyes to come and look over your care home. Our team are specially qualified to identify any matters that might be flagged in a CQC report and can advise you on how to take their concerns into account and improve your CQC rating
Tip 5: Understand the CQC’s key lines of enquiry
Understanding how your home is going to be assessed is crucial. This will help inform your decisions and demonstrate what the inspector is going to want to see. The five key questions the CQC will ask are:
- Is it safe?
- Is it effective?
- Is it caring?
- Is it responsive?
- Is it well-led?
It’s important for all managers and staff to understand what each of these lines means and how they apply them in their work. Please note, however, that the CQC will be changing to a Single Assessment Framework in 2023. You can read more about some of these changes here.
If you want help improving or maintaining your rating, please get in touch for a free initial consultation.