Legal requirements for opening your own care home

Opening a care home is a very worthwhile task and one which takes a lot of careful thought and planning, not least because there are a number of legal requirements that need to be adhered to. These are all in place to ensure that any residents are always receiving the best care and are kept safe and well, so they are very important and should be the foundation of your care home business.

With an increasingly ageing population, more care homes than ever are needed, but they have some exacting requirements that they need to meet.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) oversees health and social care in England and is the independent regulator of this. They place a huge emphasis on people-centred care, and they want to be able to see that you put the needs of your residents first and that they are allowed to have a say in how they are looked after.

The CQC monitors, inspects and regulates services in the care sector to ensure that minimum standards are reached and maintained. They have therefore put together detailed regulations which care homes must comply with both in regard to your staff and your residents.

The CQC regularly inspects care homes to look at their safety, effectiveness, leadership, standard of care and responsiveness to the needs of the residents. The care home can then be awarded a rating of Outstanding, Good, Needs Improvement or Inadequate. Any care home which receives the lowest rating may then be put into special measures or struck off the register entirely.

These ratings are publicly available so that families can decide where to send their loved one using as much information as possible. The frequency of these inspections can vary and is usually determined by the current rating, feedback from residents and reports from the local authority.

In Scotland, the registering authority is the Care Inspectorate, in Wales, it is the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) and in Northern Ireland, it is the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

Health and safety

Health and safety are paramount in any care home, and this is thrown into even sharper focus since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In order to run an effective and legal care home, you will need to ensure that all staff are appropriately trained in health and safety, manual lifting and first aid.

There needs to be a strategy for the correct storage and dispensing of medicines as the cleanliness and safe storing of chemicals. You need to have effective infection control and emergency care measures, with specific Coronavirus (COVID-19) procedures as well. You should also ensure that there is good fire safety protection for staff and residents, particularly as many are likely to not be mobile.


When you set up your care home, you will need to register with the CQC as a care provider. This care provider needs to be either a sole trader, partnership, or company, and one individual must be nominated to accept responsibility for the role.

If you will not be in charge of the day-to-day running of the care home, you will need to appoint a registered care home manager, who will share the legal responsibility of meeting the requirements of the relevant regulations.

The manager is the one who can ensure that the care home is performing to the right standards, so this person should be chosen very carefully indeed.

To become a registered manager, you will need to submit an application to the CQC and will need to be able to show that you are of good character, mentally and physically capable and have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience, which will vary according to the nature of the care provided.

At the moment, a care manager does not need to hold a specific qualification, although a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children’s and Young People’s Services is recommended. It is important to note that nursing qualifications are not necessary for this role, as they need to be more focused on leadership, being IT literate, commercially astute, adaptable, and able to communicate effectively.

Care workers

There are restrictions on who you can hire as a care worker, as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will hold a list of people who are banned from working with children or vulnerable adults. You should therefore not employ anyone who is barred and must inform the DBS if you believe that any care worker has harmed a child or vulnerable adult or is likely to do so.

Licences and registrations

As you will be serving food, you will need to register as a food business with the environmental health department of your local authority. They will want to inspect your premises and check that you comply with the food safety and hygiene legislation.

TV licences must be obtained for the televisions that you have in the care home and each resident’s room will need an Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) licence. If you intend to screen films, then a Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) is required, as well as a PPL PRS Ltd Music Licence for any formal performances where entry is charged.

You should also ensure that you are up to speed with the relevant data protection laws (eg the UK Gender Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018) in order to keep the details of your residents private and secure.

There are a lot of legal requirements needed to set up a care home, but this is understandable when you consider that the lives of vulnerable people, the elderly and the disabled are dependent on the care that they will be receiving. It is therefore vital that you understand what regulations apply to the type of care home that you are setting up, and that you work with the CQC to make sure that you are offering the very highest standards.


Ask a lawyer if you have any questions. If you require specific data protection advice, consider making use of our GDPR compliance service.


Helen Cooper
Latest posts by Helen Cooper (see all)