The Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. In other words, the CQC oversees health and social care services in England. 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 the residents 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 put together detailed regulations, which care homes must comply with both in regard to their staff and their residents. For more information on these regulations, see the CQC’s guidance for providers.
The CQC regularly inspects care homes to look at their safety, effectiveness, leadership, standard of care and responsiveness to the needs of the residents. A care home will then be awarded a rating of:
Any care home that receives the lowest rating may 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 ones 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). Each registering authority provides its own guidance on how to provide health and social care services in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively.
Health and safety requirements for care homes
Health and safety are paramount in any care home, and this has been 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 handling (ie lifting), and first aid.
There needs to be a strategy for the correct storage and dispensing of medicines as well as the cleanliness and safe storing of chemicals. You need to have effective infection control and emergency care measures. You should also ensure that there is good fire safety protection for staff and residents, particularly as many are likely to not be fully mobile.
Which qualifications do you need to run a care home?
When you set up your care home, you will need to register with the relevant registering authority (eg the CQC) as a care provider. A care provider needs to be either a sole trader, partnership or company. Generally, one individual must also be nominated to accept responsibility. For example, a company director.
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 relevant registering authority 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, the nature of 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 a care manager needs to be more focused on leadership and being IT literate, commercially astute, adaptable, and able to communicate effectively.
Who can work in a care home?
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 food safety and hygiene legislation. For more information, read Food safety.
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 the Data Protection Act 2018) in order to keep the details of your residents private and secure. If you require specific data protection advice for your care home, consider making use of our GDPR compliance service.
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, elderly people, and people with disabilities are dependent on the care that they will be receiving. It is vital that you understand what regulations apply to the type of care home that you are setting up and that you work with the relevant registering authority to make sure that you are offering the very highest standards.
Ask a lawyer if you have any questions.