Who are the CQC?

Identifying quality from the vast quantity of home care options available in Devon...

There are an astonishing 13,674 regulated home care providers in England*…

Only nine of these providers are rated as Outstanding in all five areas of inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), of which we are one…

Further, we are hugely proud to be the only home care provider rated as ‘Outstanding in all areas’ in the southwest region.

Those seeking care may ask, “Who are the CQC and why do their ratings matter?”

The CQC are the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. They inspect the care and support provided by hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, ambulance services, care homes and home care providers, such as Home Instead. They do not regulate independent care providers, such as Personal Assistants (PA’s). Currently, there is no independent regulator in place for these.

The CQC aim to protect the rights of people that are ‘made vulnerable by their circumstances’ and in doing so, the Care Quality Commission monitor and inspect a registered organisation, assessing their ability to provide services based around five key areas, asking: Is it safe, caring, well-led, effective and responsive?

There is a considerable cost to CQC registration, which registered providers must pay each year but, it’s value is immense…

CQC governance is vital, providing trusted evidence-based reports, informing those seeking support for the people in their care, many of whom are much loved family members.

Without it, the task of assessing the safety, kindness, management, quality and ability of a care provider becomes almost impossible. With no regulated criteria to meet, the standards of care that can be provided by generally unregulated providers such as PA’s varies hugely, and the decision to employ the services of an individual can become one based purely on trust rather than evidence.

PA’s that work as regular ‘teams’ will likely need to register as an organisation and therefore, be subject to subscribe to the CQC for inspection. However, evidence of the existence of these groups operating across the community suggests that worryingly, this rarely happens.

PA’s are also exempt from the legal requirement of even standard DBS checks, whereas registered providers such as ourselves must ensure that our own Care Professionals are subject to an enhanced DBS: a requirement that we wholeheartedly support as it offers reassurance to ourselves as employers, and to Clients alike.

When it comes to consistency of care, the CQC also ensures that regulated providers invest in their business and hold responsibility for arranging substitute carers in unforeseen circumstances, ensure that the care continues during holiday periods and year-round – in complete contrast to self-employed carers.

In theory, the Client becomes the ‘employer’ and the PA the employee – with implications regarding NI payments and with both parties requiring insurance. This is a topic discussed in detail via independent disability charity, SCOPE, in their guide HERE.

To explain the CQC rating system, it’s vital to understand the five key areas of assessment.

The Safety of an organisation is judged based on whether the Client is protected from abuse and avoidable harm.

The Effectiveness of a regulated care provider is considered in relation to whether the care that they deliver supports your ability as the Client to achieve good results, and to help you to maintain your quality of life. The CQC appoints their rating based on available evidence.

The evaluation of an organisation with regard to the aspect of being Caring, asks if staff involve the Client, treat them with clear compassion, kindness, respect and dignity.

Being Responsive is crucial for so many reasons, and the CQC will assess registered organisations to ensure that their systems enable a timely and appropriate response to Client needs.

Finally, the question of a provider being Well-Led is of real importance. The CQC will assess how the leadership of the organisation ensure that it is providing high-quality care that is based around Client needs, asking if it encourages learning, training and innovation, whilst also promoting a fair and open culture.

Whilst there is a definite need for a variety of care options for our aging and diverse population, the absolute value of regulation remains. Nation-wide, regulated organisations agree that with increasing demand, the importance of regulation grows, as without it, Clients are at risk of unknowingly opting for care that potentially requires improvement, and at worst, puts them at risk.

To summarise, regulated and inspected organisations are rated by the CQC and can (and are required to) display their ratings achieved during their last inspection accordingly. These ratings range from: Inadequate, Requires Improvement, Good and Outstanding.

Whilst our Home Instead Exeter & East Devon office is one of only nine rated as Outstanding in all five areas of inspection in England, a provider can advertise their services as ‘Outstanding’ if they have achieved this rating in just two areas of assessment and are rated as Good in the remaining three. So, it’s important to check the full report for an organisation ahead of subscribing to their services, in order to be fully informed. Inspection results are published on the CQC website which can be accessed HERE.

In all regards, research is key, regulated ratings are vital, and being aware of the reputation of a potential service provider (whether they are a CQC registered provider or self-employed individual) remain crucial to finding the right, and trusted, care for loved ones. There are a vast quantity of care options available to those needing support. The CQC is invaluable in determining the quality of that care.

If you would like to speak to our dedicated Home Care Consultants regarding our own officially outstanding hourly, overnight, 24 hour or Live-In care and companionship services, please don’t hesitate. We would welcome your enquiry. Contact our team via 01395 200600, email [email protected] or make a direct enquiry via our website HERE.

*CQC data 2023.