March 3, 2021

CQC propose to change care home ratings without inspecting

Care worker

The proposals are potentially worrying, warns social care lawyers Royds Withy King, and care providers should ensure their voice is heard by responding to the CQC’s consultation.

Mei-Ling Huang, Partner in the Social Care team at Royds Withy King comments.

“The consultation is in two parts and there are elements in both that will concern care providers.

“Part one points to a move away from comprehensive inspections as a way of assessing quality and awarding ratings. Assessments and ratings will be updated more regularly based on user feedback, local data and insight from third parties.

“Part two, whilst brief, will have long-lasting implications as CQC proposes to do away with future large-scale formal consultations, preferring instead to use ‘alternative ways’ of gathering feedback.

Rightly concerned

“Care providers will be rightly concerned that assessments and ratings may change without any formal assessment. User feedback is important but can be unreliable: some residents may not have the capacity to respond to questions from CQC and disgruntled staff may have ulterior motives when providing feedback. The CQC does not propose any way to gauge the credibility of this type of feedback, but a care home’s entire reputation will be staked upon it.

“Care providers will also want to know which third parties and what local data CQC will turn to when assessing a care home, and how the CQC can ensure its reliability. The consultation is light on detail and that is concerning.

“That it may be one of the last industry-wide consultations is also of concern. The CQC proposes the use of focus groups when considering further changes. A less formal consultation may suit the CQC but will be less informative for providers, creating a further imbalance of power between the regulator and those it regulates.

Make sure you have your say

“We would urge all care providers to make sure their voice is heard before 23 March”

To participate in this consultation visit

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  • Yvonne Foster says:

    I would agree with your comments, with reference to CQC’s proposals, to change the way they inspect. We provide services for adults with learning difficulties, the majority of which have complex needs and often lack in capacity. To amass feedback from our clients would not be an easy task, particularly over the proposed digital platforms. By conducting an onsite inspection, you can observe many different things; people receiving services, for example, are generally more conducive to engaging with someone if they are in a comfortable and familiar environment. This would certainly apply to our client base. I am also concerned that CQC may not be able to differentiate between what is reliable and unreliable evidence; this was alluded to in your article above. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is my understanding that onsite inspections may only take place if there is a concern? Surely we want to be responsive and not reactive; it could be too late for a service user by the time CQC visit. The information that CQC has offered to date is not specific enough for me to form an opinion. However, it seems like the proposed changes would be more advantageous to CQC and generate potential difficulties for providers. I am hopeful of some reassurance from CQC that the new systems will enable a fair, accurate and transparent inspection.

    • Mei-Ling Huang says:

      Thanks for your comments Yvonne. I agree that it is difficult to glean from the consultation documents just how CQC will address the issues relating to obtaining service user feedback, particularly when people are not able to communicate verbally. This can be very difficult even if inspectors are present in a service. They have relied on the SOFI method for many years and that tool would not be available if they did not cross the threshold. The proposals also do not give much detail about how feedback from others (who can communicate verbally) will be obtained.

      In answer to your specific question, it is not entirely clear when or how often CQC would come into a service and inspect or whether that would only be when concerns are raised. That seems to be what they are indicating, which may put a negative slant on every inspection.

      Similarly, it isn’t clear whether the proposed reduction in consultation regarding future proposals about changes to regulation will give providers enough scope to provide meaningful feedback to CQC. I would suggest that you send your comments and questions to CQC and make your views heard before the consultation closes.

      Thanks very much for sharing your insights.