If you’re considering investing in the care home sector you’re probably already aware that, unsurprisingly, it’s a highly regulated industry. Care home providers – whether residential homes or nursing homes – must demonstrate compliance with extensive and rigorous regulations in order to register and operate their care business.

It’s important, then, that you are fully aware of the legal requirements.

CQC requirements for care home providers

In England, it is the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which acts as the independent regulator of health and adult social care. Its role is to monitor, inspect and regulate services in the care sector to ensure minimum quality and safety standards are met.

To this end, the CQC has produced a raft of detailed regulations which care home owners must comply with. These include the need to employ suitably qualified and competent staff and the need for the premises to meet stringent health and safety standards, as well as requirements relating to the safeguarding and treatment of residents.

How often does the CQC inspect care homes?

To ensure care providers are meeting the required standards, the CQC inspects care homes at regular intervals, basing its checks on five key service areas: safety, effectiveness, leadership, standard of care and responsiveness to residents’ needs.

The CQC inspection results in a care home being given one of four possible ratings: Outstanding, Good, Needs Improvement or, in the worst case scenario, Inadequate. Care homes may be put into special measures, or even struck off the register, if they fail to meet the necessary care standards.

CQC publishes its ratings so that people looking for care can compare care home providers and choose the best one for their needs. How often a care home is inspected will depend on its rating and the feedback given by its residents and local authority.

What qualifications do I need to be a registered care home manager?

If you are buying or setting up a care home you’ll need to make an application to register with CQC as the ‘care provider’. The registered care provider may be one of three legal entities – a sole trader, a partnership or an organisation – but, in all cases, one individual must be nominated to accept responsibility for the role.

If you don’t intend to be personally in charge of the day-to-day running and management of your care home (or you don’t have the necessary qualifications), you will also need to appoint a registered care home manager (unless this key employee transfers with the business you are buying). The registered manager shares the legal responsibility for meeting the requirements of the relevant regulations with the care provider.

The registered care home manager is pivotal to ensuring a care home is performing to the required standards. He or she assumes the leadership role in a care setting, having ultimate responsibility for the regulated activity (although it is possible for the role to be shared between more than one person).

Individuals wishing to become a registered manager must submit an application to the CQC. In general terms, registered care home managers must be of good character, be mentally and physically capable of performing the role and have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience. What constitutes ‘necessary’ skills, qualifications and experience for a registered manager varies from case to case and depends on the nature of the care provision.

Currently, there is no need for a registered care home manager to hold a particular professional qualification as such, although Skills for Care (the adult social care skills council) recommend a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children’s and Young Peoples’ Services. Equally, a professional qualification, for example, in nursing or social care, will not in itself guarantee an applicant is fit to be a registered manager.

Many registered care home managers have little or no nursing experience or qualifications but are able to demonstrate that their core leadership and management skills are transferrable to a care setting. Registered managers also need to be IT literate, commercially astute, excellent communicators and adaptable.

Should you need to recruit a registered care home manager you will need to budget for a salary in excess of £20,000 pa. Finding and retaining the right calibre of person can be problematic and there is much movement within the industry.

Legal changes in the care sector

Regulations and standards relating to the care sector are constantly evolving. Whilst the information contained in this blog is relevant at the time it was written (September 2017), you should visit the Care Quality Commission’s website for a full list of current regulations.


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