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Preparing for a CQC Inspection

As a former manager of a social care inspection team, I am fully aware of the anxiety that a manager may feel about a forthcoming inspection. Although it may not be possible to alleviate all of the stress a great deal can be reduced by: • Good preparation and planning • Knowledge of CQC requirements • Policies and procedures that comply with CQC Fundamental Standards and Key Lines of enquiry • Records are in place that are up to date • Evidence of feedback from service users about the quality of your services • Involvement of staff and service users in the inspection

Good preparation and planning

The framework for CQC inspections is undergoing change with fewer planned site visits to services graded good, and more focus placed upon those services who have adequate or poor ratings.

However, I am advocating a preparation for inspection process that will apply should the service receive an onsite or unannounced inspection.

The key lies in the manager having up to date knowledge that the service complies to the requirements of CQC on a day-to-day basis. The planning and preparation then should form part of an audit of compliance prior to any inspection.

The role of the manager is to prepare the team by helping them to understand the importance of the inspection and the type of questions they are likely to be asked.

Knowledge of CQC requirements

The manager should remember that inspection is about compliance to regulations and CQC Standards which in turn are designed to deliver: Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive, and Well led services.

It is important then that the manager and staff understand the standards as they will need to demonstrate that they are following them. Service users and their families should also be made aware of them so that they can raise any concerns should they feel that the standards are not being met.

Policies and procedures that comply with CQC Fundamental Standards and Key Lines of enquiry

Documentation is central to the CQC inspection process. It is therefore essential that the care service has a quality management system such a s the Bettal Quality Consultancy Cared 4 System that complies with the requirements of the CQC.

Records are in place that are up to date

The CQC inspector will ask questions on a range of topics that can be answered by having up to date records in place, these will include: • Health and Safety • Recruitment and employment of staff • Staff training • Complaints from service users and staff • Surveys and feedback from services users on the quality and satisfaction with the service • Minutes of staff meetings and evidence of discussions with staff about the regulations, CQC standards and KLOES • Evidence of compliance audits and actions on improvements

The Inspection Process

CQC inspections are designed to judge compliance of the service to regulations and standards to ensure the quality of care provided meets the health and wellbeing needs of the service user. Inspectors will: • Observe what is happening in the service • Review documentation • Check records • Talk to managers, staff, service users, relatives and external stakeholders.


Inspections can be stressful because the manager is opening the services method of operation to the view of regulators. Nor can the pressure of service ratings be overestimated. Having said that, the manager should be confident of compliance through knowledge of the day to day running of the business.

Confidence can be drawn by carrying out audits of key areas which I have identified. The manager should recognise that the service can only be judged on social care regulations and the CQC standards based on them. In essence I am advocating that if the service is subject to rigorous auditing, then the manager will know that it is compliant and have confidence about the inspection.

Policies and procedures are a key aspect of inspection, and if you are interested, you can learn more about the Bettal Quality Consultancy policies and procedures which comply the CQC requirements by browsing our website, emailing or calling 01697 741 411.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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