How to prepare for your CQC regulatory inspection

In England the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for monitoring, inspecting and regulating care homes and home care agencies.

Carrying out visits to your premises allows regulatory bodies to observe care and to look at people’s records, to see how their needs are managed. Here’s what to bear in mind before, during and after your CQC inspection*.

Put in the housekeeping all year round

The inspection is the culmination of work you’re doing throughout the year. There’s plenty you can do to set yourself up for success on a daily basis.

Store client records correctly

Ensure that all of your records are signed and are stored safely and securely. Files on clients and staff should contain a contents page, making it easy to see at a glance which documents are in their file.

Author: Elaine McLean

  • Care Matcher at Care Sourcer
  • Former Quality Assurance and Operations Manager at home care service

Review your clients regularly

Make sure all your clients have a review every six months and that you have clear records of this. If you don’t – ask yourself why and make a plan to address it. Have an achievable action plan in place for any client reviews that haven’t yet been done.

Work with the inspector throughout the year

You will usually be assigned a specific inspector who will look after you and your service every year (you should be informed of this during the registration process). Unsure if you are doing something correctly or meeting regulations and requirements? Ask them! This shows that you are proactively working to meet regulations and requirements, as opposed to waiting until your inspection to see if you have got things right.

Brief your staff beforehand

No matter how well you prepare, your success during an inspection heavily relies on your staff. Regular training and reminders, plus briefing the team on what to expect during an inspection, will put you and your staff in the best possible position.


Make staff aware of complaints and safeguarding processes

Ensure all staff are aware of complaints and safeguarding processes and where to find the policy, so they’re able to advise the inspector of this. Consistently revisit key policies during team meetings and have staff sign the meeting agenda to say they fully understand policies that have been covered. This can be used as evidence during your inspection. 


Show evidence of safer recruitment processes 

When the inspector is reviewing staff files, they are mainly interested in how staff are recruited and supported. They are not hugely interested in employment law (issues, grievances, annual leave, etc.). In fact, they have no authority to regulate or inspect these areas.

For the purposes of the inspection, ensure that staff files clearly show you follow the safer recruitment processes set by the regulator. Evidence of your own internal policies for training, supervising and appraising staff is also very valuable.


Talk to care workers about observation

Think about your care workers and the clients they usually visit. Ask a group of them to be prepared for the inspector observing them in action. 

Take extra care to ensure that everything is as it should be with these care packages. This can be daunting for the care worker, so prepare them by making sure they know that they should just relax and deliver care to the highest standard possible – as they would normally. 

Be ready – first impressions count

An inspector is looking at every aspect of your business, big or small. Try to take a look at your environment with fresh eyes – what impression is it giving? Here are some things to look out for.


Cover the phones

An inspector once told me that phones ringing off the hook is an immediate red flag! It says that there are issues out in the field and not enough resources to address those issues. This can cause alarm bells to go off, so make sure you have enough staff to answer the phone.


Keep your office tidy

Keep your office clutter free and presentable at all times. If your inspector walks in to a messy, unorganised office, they will assume that you are providing a messy, unorganised service.


On the day

Other than making sure to have a quiet room available and offering the inspector a cuppa, here’s some other essentials for the day of the inspection.


Health and safety first

Make sure your inspector signs in to the building for fire safety purposes. Give them a quick tour of the office, show them the fire exits and inform them what to do in the event of a fire. 

Your health and safety records should be up to date and relevant legislation posters displayed in the office.


Be prepared

Try to preempt the evidence that you will have to show the inspector. Have these documents available and ready to present. You can find a list of the documents that you need to show at the end of this article.

If your regulator has issued any follow on actions from a previous inspection or complaints against your service, make sure to have evidence you completed these actions.


Show how you go above and beyond for clients

Create a folder that shows how you are going the extra mile for your clients. Including newsletters, forums, trips, lunches, or anything that is not compulsory is very likely to contribute positively towards your grade.

Know your weaknesses and have an ongoing plan

If you find any non-critical areas for improvement from your own internal audits, that’s ok. It is better to be honest and acknowledge when things are going wrong – then do something to rectify it.

Ensure you have a clear action plan in place (include a timescale for completion). If your inspector does find an area for improvement, it is much better if you have already identified this and can evidence that you are working towards improving it. 


Be honest

Uncomfortable as it may be, be honest when asked about something. Dishonesty will only lead to your integrity and honesty being questioned if it is discovered.


*This guide is written from the experience of Care Sourcer team members and should be regarded as a matter of opinion. While the information is presented in good faith, no guarantees are made that following this advice will affect your grade.