By Sophie Coles

From 1 April 2023, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has new powers to assess local authorities in England. It will be looking at how well local authorities meet their duties under the Care Act (2014).  The CQC will start formal assessments of local authorities in September 2023.

It is true that CQC inspections can be a nerve-racking experience.  ‘Blind panic’, ‘anxiety’, ‘stress’ and ‘pressure’ may all be words that spring to mind when you hear the words ‘CQC Inspection’.

Understanding what the CQC expects from you can help you be prepared for inspection and demonstrate that you are delivering.

Linked to the CQC’s new duty to assess local authorities’ delivery, is a power for the Secretary of State to intervene where, following assessment under the new duty, it is considered that a local authority is failing to meet their duties.  Are you confident in your readiness for inspection?

The CQC will assess how local authorities are meeting their duties under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014, focusing on four themes:

  1. How local authorities work with people
    2.  How local authorities provide support
    3.  How local authorities ensure safety within the system
    4.  Leadership
‘Test and learn’ shows the process is resource intensive

The Local Government Association found that the experience of the two councils that have participated in the CQC ‘test and learn’ exercise was that the process was resource intensive.  The compilation of the CQC self-assessment and information return for just two Quality Statements took nearly 30 days’ work for just one of the test and learn sites. Having adequate co-ordination and oversight capacity to support the preparation process is essential.

Have you prepared your Adult Social Care staff for the upcoming CQC inspection?  Are you communicating with them well and keeping them informed and involved?  Have you built up a portfolio of evidence to support the four CQC themes for inspection?

Two areas expected to be important across the CQC assessment are co-production and showing an understanding of people’s lived experiences, and equity of access, experience and outcomes.

The key is to foster a robust internal culture

CQC will form judgements of current performance but also of the direction of travel – are things getting better, staying the same or deteriorating? Are your improvement priorities set accordingly?  The key to self-assessment is to foster an internal culture that is robust, balanced and show critical awareness of your strengths and areas for development.

Demonstrate confidence in your strengths and progress

You need to be able to demonstrate confidence in your strengths and progress, with clear evidence and acknowledge the things that require improvement or transformation and have a realistic plan for doing this.

Ensure that you are clear on your strengths and any shortfalls or risks around your duties under the Care Act (2014).  And be aware that small failings in something serious will overshadow a lot of good practice.

C.Co’s independent CQC Inspection Readiness Healthcheck enables local authorities to determine how well they are performing in the areas that the CQC will inspect against.

Get in touch with us today so we can help you be as prepared as possible.