CQC Inspections – How YOU can prepare

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The Care Quality Commission – or CQC as it is known - is the independent regulator of health and social care providers in England. Their purpose is to register and monitor these services to make sure they are providing safe, compassionate and high-quality care. You can find out more about them and their values here.

Despite their very important role in protecting patients, healthcare professionals can sometimes find their visits to be nerve-wracking. With that in mind we spoke to a CQC representative to answer some questions about inspections and how you can prepare.

What is the best welcome experience you’ve had and is there anything staff can do to help you on an inspection?

We don’t assess or rate a trust on the welcome we get, but having access to the evidence, for example policies, that we need to support the inspection makes it much smoother and avoids us having to ask for lots of different documents while we are there.

It is really helpful when staff feel they can be open and honest and able to talk about the things they are proud of as well as the challenges. When there’s a challenge we are interested in how they are responding to that challenge and what they are doing to prevent any negative impact on patients.

What sort of questions might you ask the staff when interviewing them?

On inspection our assessment is based on five key questions; are services safe, are they effective, are they responsive, are they caring and are they well led. The key lines of enquiry that our inspectors use to focus their inspections can be found on our website here and are a good indication of the likely questions we will ask during interviews with staff.

What can staff do to prepare personally if they are nervous about the inspection?

We’re not inspecting people, we’re inspecting the organisation and how it supports them to do their job. We completely understand that staff might be nervous, so they should try to approach it as an opportunity to share what they are doing well and the successes they are proud of as well as any difficulties.

Most CQC inspectors have clinical backgrounds and our inspections also involve specialist advisors who are working clinicians that take time out of their day job to assist the team. As such, the team has an understanding of what it’s like working in healthcare and can see things from the staff’s perspective.

What is the best way to explain to patients what the CQC inspection is? (What can we say to patients who are concerned that the hospital is being inspected?)

CQC is there to inspect the hospital and ensure that services are safe and are meeting people’s needs. It is important to let patients know that as part of the inspection we might want to talk to them. Patients and people who use services are at the heart of our work and so we want to understand what it’s like from their perspective as part of our assessments. To support that end, we involve Experts by Experience in our inspections. These are people who have personal experience of using or caring for someone who uses health, mental health and/or social care services. They will speak to patients and relatives or organisations that support them. They may also observe how the service is delivered and speak to staff.

Thank you to the CQC for taking the time to answer our questions. If you are still feeling nervous or would like to find out more about CQC inspections, then there are some great resources on their website including:

What we do on an inspection

5 key questions we ask

How we plan an inspection

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