Citation’s Hints and tips on avoiding or improving a ‘requires improvement’ CQC rating

In an ideal world, all care homes would be getting a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating in their Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection. But in reality, this can be difficult. It doesn’t take much to fall into the ‘requires improvement’ rating, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if you were concerned – care providers are still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the general global climate right now.

So, if you’re worried about slipping or have already slipped to a ‘requires improvement’ rating, there’s no need to worry. The experts at Citation have a few handy hints and tips to make sure your future is secure.

What’s involved in a CQC inspection?

You’ll probably already know this, but a refresher is never a bad thing. CQC inspections currently take place according to your previous rating. They’re designed to make sure care homes are meeting high standards and that residents are receiving the best care and support. The CQC currently uses a Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs) framework that outlines their expectations really clearly, so it’s easy to see from the report which areas need work and what the inspector recommends.

However it’s worth noting that by the end of the year the CQC are planning to replace KLOEs with Quality Statements. The Quality Statements will show how services and providers need to work together to plan and deliver high quality care. 

Instant barriers to achieving a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating

In some situations, it doesn’t matter how good your care might be – you may be rated ‘requires improvement’ anyway. This happens when CQC regulations have been breached, for example:

·         You don’t have a registered manager in place

·         You haven’t returned PIR information when requested

·         Statutory notifications aren’t being submitted

So, why might you receive a ‘requires improvement’ rating?

As we’ve already mentioned, there are five key questions that the CQC currently uses to measure the overall rating of a service. These are Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-Led. Let’s take a look at considerations you should make when it comes to each key question.

1.       Is your care home safe?

·         Do you protect residents and staff from avoidable harm and abuse?

·         Do you perform regular and adequate risk assessments?

·         Do you have and use policies that keep residents safe?


2.       Is your service effective?

·         Is your care and support based on the latest evidence?

·         Does your care help improve the quality of life for residents or other service users?


3.       Is your service caring?

·         Do the staff at your care home treat residents with empathy?

·         Do residents get the right emotional support when they need it?

·         Do you have procedures in place to make sure residents are being supported?


4.       Are you responsive?

·         Do you tailor the care and support to each resident’s needs?

·         Do you include residents in decisions about their care?

·         Do residents have enough information to make decisions?


5.       Is your service well-led?

·         Do leaders and managers at your care home promote high quality care?

·         Do they inspire staff and encourage innovation?

·         Do they promote an open, fair workplace?

If you fall down in any of these areas, you might be at risk of a ‘requires improvement’ rating. But of course, there’s a fair amount more to the inspection process, and you can find all the information you need on the CQC website.

What happens if you get a bad CQC rating?

If you get an ‘inadequate’ rating, you’ll be in special measures and the CQC will be back within six months. You’ll need to do an action plan that the CQC will want to see to make sure you’re making improvements. If you get a ‘requires improvement rating’ it’ll be about a year until they come back.

If you’ve not made significant improvement to your service at the next inspection, it’s likely the CQC will take enforcement action. At the end of the day, the CQC is on the service user’s side. They aren’t setting out to shut down care homes, but concerns about residents’ health or safety comes above everything else.

Top tips for improving your CQC rating and securing a good rating

Enough of the negativity – let’s look at some ways you can make sure you secure the best rating you can at your next inspection.

·         Make sure you’ve got robust documentation in place and all staff are up to date on best practices when it comes to records

·         Managers need to regularly check risk assessments and make sure protocols are being followed

·         Make sure you’ve got a proper process for investigating complaints, concerns, accidents and incidents

·         Review everyone’s training and make sure all compulsory training is up to date and any additional courses have been taken

·         Make sure you’ve got a robust quality assurance system in place so you can effectively monitor your standards

·         Stay creative and continue innovating – and make sure all your staff are engaged and involve them in new processes

There’s so much more you can do, too. Check out our full guide to care inspections for even more information on smashing your next inspection. And that’s not even the best we can provide. As a client, you could be getting mock inspections, CQC Pro, care policies and procedure templates, fire risk assessments and ISO certification – as well as 24/7 HR and Health & Safety support.

Citation – your personal advisor whenever you need it.

As a Buyacarehome partner, we’re a trusted provider in the industry – so you can have faith that we know how to help you manage the challenges unique to your care home.

If you’d like to chat about how we can help with your HR and Health & Safety, just give us a call on 0345 844 1111 or email

Make sure you quote ‘Buyacarehome’ when enquiring to access your preferential rates!