CQC Handbooks For Adult Social Care

Following extensive joint development, consultation and testing over the past 18 months, CQC have issued handbooks, which will help care providers to understand how they will be assessed and rated from now on:

Specialist teams, including trained members of the public (called Experts by Experience) will inspect services, unannounced, against what matters most to those who use them: are they safe, caring, effective, responsive to their needs, and well-led? CQC will then rate these services so that people can make informed choices about care. The 4 ratings are:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires Improvement
  • Inadequate

CQC have issued one handbook covering regulation of residential adult social care (care homes, with and without nursing) and another covering regulation of community adult social care (including services that care for people in their own homes).

NCF welcomes the handbooks

Des Kelly OBE, Executive Director of the National Care Forum (NCF) said:

“The publication of provider handbooks by CQC is an important step in changing the way in which adult social care services in England are inspected, assessed and rated. 

NCF has welcomed the intention by CQC to regulate different services in different ways as we believe that it is vital that the regulator has a role in promoting quality improvement.

NCF has been pleased to support CQC in the development of this essential guidance for providers. NCF has consistently supported the reintroduction of a quality rating scheme as a valuable means of providing information to the public, and others responsible for commissioning services, as well as acting as a driver for quality improvement. 

The handbooks represent another key aspect of a reform agenda that will build a stronger regulatory process giving greater reassurance to everyone involved in the provision of care and support.”

Making the ‘Mum Test’ real

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said:

“The handbooks mark an important milestone for us and the adult social care services that we regulate.

“We have developed our regulatory model with people who use services, care providers, commissioners, national partners and our staff. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time and effort to respond during our consultation, participate in our various events, and work with us during our test inspections to help us to develop our strengthened approach.

“Our new regulatory model has people right at its heart. We will ask the questions that matter most to people who use services, listen to their views, take action to protect them, and provide them with clear, reliable and accessible information about the quality of their services.

“The detail in the handbooks is about making the Mum Test real. On their visits, I will ask our inspection teams to consider whether these are services that they would be happy for someone they love and care for to use. If they are, then we will celebrate this through our ratings. If they are not, we will take tough action so that improvements are made. Above all else, my priority is to make sure people receive care that is safe, effective, high-quality and compassionate.”

In response to people’s feedback during the consultation, we:

  • Will further develop our ‘Provider Information Returns’ with an online system so that care providers can submit information about their services to CQC continuously
  • Have strengthened and reduced the number of ‘key lines of enquiry’ that our inspection teams will use to guide them on their visits and reviewed their language so that they reflect current practice, do not use jargon and are fully focused on people who use services
  • Have reviewed the descriptions of our ratings so that they are clearer and use plain English. Also, we have strengthened our descriptions of ‘Outstanding’ care so that we set a high but achievable bar and will recognise services that are innovative, creative, and dynamic
  • Will publish guidance on the use of surveillance for health and adult social care providers, as well as for members of the public, to help them make decisions about its potential use. We expect to publish this guidance at the end of the month.

Further information is available in CQCs consultation response, which was published alongside the handbooks. For further details visit