Understanding CQC ratings


Making the decision to put yourself or a loved one into a nursing home is difficult, but sometimes necessary. We all want to make sure that we receive good quality care. When deciding on a nursing home, it is worth taking into account CQC ratings. CQC ratings are provided by the Quality Care Commission (CQC) who are England’s independent regulator of health and social care providers.

They are awarded to nursing homes and other care services and rate the care, safety and security that these provide. CQC inspectors visit nursing homes and assess whether the residents are receiving good standards in these areas, and reports are then published to give you the opportunity to select the right nursing home with the knowledge provided, for you or your loved one’s needs. Once given a CQC rating, nursing homes and other care services are legally required to clearly display their rating at their location, as well as on their website.

CQC ratings are provided for several types of services, including:

  • Nursing homes
  • Personal support services such as nursing which is provided in people’s homes
  • GPs
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health services that support those with mental health
  • Dental services
  • Hospices

What are considered in CQC ratings?

Inspectors consider 5 questions, called the Key Lines Of Enquiry or KLOES, when assessing what CQC rating a nursing home should receive; these can be seen below. Each question is rated with a separate score, and the scores are then combined to give an overall rating.

  1. Is the nursing home’s service safe?

Are residents in the nursing home provided with high standards of safety and security? Is the nursing home free from harm or abuse?

  1. Is the nursing home’s service effective?

Are residents provided with the best outcome possible? Are the most recent practices being implemented, and does each resident receive top-quality treatment and support?

  1. Is the nursing home’s service caring?

Are residents shown kindness? Are their rights respected and are they treated with dignity and compassion?

  1. Does the nursing home respond to people’s needs?

Does the nursing home offer treatment unique to each individual?

  1. Is the nursing home’s service led well?

Does the nursing home have a strong leadership team who care about delivering quality and are they putting staff and residents first?

What CQC ratings are provided and what does each stand for?


Outstanding is the highest rating provided to a nursing home. It symbolises that the care is of an exceptional standard and the home has shown itself to be innovative in this area.


A Good CQC service rating means that standards across the nursing home are high in all Key Lines of Enquiry.

Requires Improvement

When provided with the Requires Improvement CQC rating, one or more areas in the nursing home are not meeting CQC’s expectations. The nursing home will need to improve to gain a higher rating and provide CQC with their action plan to get there.


An Inadequate CQC rating means that the nursing home is failing to deliver an acceptable quality standard.

If a nursing home has been awarded with a poor rating, they are closely monitored to bring their ratings up to standard. They then have an opportunity to make the changes required and will be reinspected. If a nursing home fails to make the necessary improvements remedial action is taken; they are given time limits to effect change or, if the failings are of a more serious nature, the nursing home can be prosecuted, particularly when it comes to people potentially being harmed.

Where can I view CQC ratings for a nursing home?

If you have a particular nursing home in mind, you can find their CQC rating in the nursing home itself or on their website. This is a legal requirement and must be followed.

If you are unsure of what nursing home to consider and want to have a look at which ones are available with their CQC ratings, you can visit CQC’s website. There are many filters you can use. You can search by location, such as nursing homes in Hampshire, by overall rating and by condition, to name a few. You can also view the full reports if you want to research further.

A CQC report provides a good starting point for finding the right nursing home for you or your loved one but reports should never be taken as the only tool for making a decision. It is extremely important to visit a home in person to meet the staff, and if possible some of the current residents, look at the gardens, furnishings and décor. Ask yourself, can I envisage myself or my loved one being settled and happy in the home? Is there a calm, relaxed and friendly atmosphere? In essence, is the home a good fit for you?

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