If you run a primary healthcare facility, then you can expect an inspection from the CQC (Care Quality Commission) any time. The inspection determines whether a care facility is up to standards or not and which areas need to be looked into to improve the service.
Before preparing for a formal visit, one must be aware of the inspection criteria. The CQC looks at five key indicators. These examine whether a facility is safe, effective, caring, responsive, and is well-led. Each key variable is rated accordingly, and the overall rating is determined based on the score received on each variable.
Alternatively, at times, the CQC may conduct a more focused inspection that examines a specific area of the establishment and is based upon complaints or information being received. Regardless of the type of inspection, the process is in-depth and requires a lot of preparation.
Familiarize yourself with the inspection process:
It is critical to be prepared and do your homework before the actual inspection. There are several resources available on the NHS (National Health Services) website that can be used to familiarize the staff with an inspection by the CQC.
Determine the key lines of inquiry (KLOEs) to better equip the staff with any queries asked during the process of inspection. The KLOE is based on the five factors already identified and which are of primary interest to the CQC inspectors. The CQC’s website is also a great starting point for getting all you need to know with regards to the process.
What to expect?
A CQC inspection session normally lasts for two days, though it may be more or less depending upon the size of the facility. Your facility may be visited by a single CQC inspector or a team, again, depending upon the circumstances.
The ratings are given on a scale ranging from outstanding to inadequate. There is a policy that guides CQC inspectors to be biased in favor of people using the care facility rather than those running it. This is done to err on the side of caution.
Subsequent CQC inspections are held based on previous inspection results. A facility rated ‘inadequate’ will be inspected within 6 months, whereas one that is rated ‘requires improvement’ will be visited within 12 months. Finally, care facilities rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ will not be inspected for a maximum of 5 years.
Get all the paperwork:
Documentary evidence is an essential prerequisite to any CQC inspection. You will need to submit the paperwork well before an in-person visit can begin.
You will be asked to submit summaries of complaints, evidence of how service is monitored at the facility, any adverse events that occurred, and so on. Keeping all this information in a CQC folder is helpful as it means you can be ready to hand in the information readily. Usually, the documentation needs to be provided 5 to 10 before the inspection date.
Aside from this, keep all the patients” records up-to-date and complete to avoid any issues. The agency will also provide comment cards to be filled in by the patients to get a gauge on the services. These must also be submitted before the visit.
Prepping for a visit:
The actual visit day can be stressful. But you can manage the task by following the steps below to ensure an inspection without any hiccups:
Interview the patients:
Regularly check in with patients and inquire about their experiences at the care facility. Are they satisfied with the level of service and care provided? Are there any concerns or issues that need addressing?
This internal review is critical for self-assessment and improving the way the facility is managed. Patients’ satisfaction and health are the number one priority, so getting the patients themselves involved is fundamental.
Brief the staff:
Since the staff will be interviewed as part of the inspection process, they must be briefed and ready to entertain any query that the inspector may have. The staff must be made aware of the CQC’s requirements as well as the protocols and operational details of the facility.
Self-identify problems that need to be overcome. Involve other stakeholders, especially the patients and the staff. Recognizing the issues and acknowledging them as such will only pave the way to improvement and better service. It will also reveal a level of self-awareness that is encouraged and appreciated by the CQC.
All hands on the deck are needed. Like mentioned before, getting opinions and comments from all stakeholders is important. This will enable you to make changes and involve everyone in improving the conditions. Teamwork is necessary for concerted and consistent effort for continuous improvement.
A dress rehearsal, in the form of a mock inspection, can help with the level of preparedness as well. Hiring an external auditor to undertake the exercise is a great way to carry a mock inspection, but you can get a member of the staff to do so as well. Having a practice session will help destress the staff and remove some of the pressure of the CQC inspection.
Commonly asked questions:
What do I do when the CQC team arrives?
First and foremost, ask for identification and ascertain that they are representatives of CQC. Once the identity is determined provide the team with space where they can conduct the inspection, like hold staff interviews. Make them comfortable.
Am I obligated to talk to a CQC representative even if I need to attend to a patient?
No. Patients’ health and safety are the number one priority, and all other concerns are secondary. Only talk to the CQC team member if you do not have any pressing matters to address. You can cut an interview short and be open about the time you give about your work at the facility, which always comes first.
What should I do if I do not know the answer to a question?
Be honest, be open, and do not make things up. You need to cooperate with the CQC team as much as possible because the ultimate goal is to improve the service at the facility.
Just be prepared and honest, and good luck with the inspection of your facility.