08th February 2017

Through the Keyhole

You are going to be registered for hopefully a very long time with the Care Quality Commission, so who are the people behind the CQC door?

Secret club

There is a bar in Bristol where they badge it as a private member’s club. The door looks not too dissimilar to 10 Downing Street, and there is no real sign of what goes on as there are no windows to the front. A small emblem garnishes the intercom – the only sign of what is behind the door.

I always imagined the grand operation behind those doors. A secret agent drinking hole, glitzy, overflowing with glamourous individuals.

I went there a year or so ago. The drains must have been blocked, and there was a single man behind the bar and the place was kind of scruffy and empty.

Registering with CQC

We know CQC says they will be slimming down in some areas, but it is far from empty. Like an episode of ‘Through the Keyhole’… well not quite so funny I have to admit… we can see ‘who lives in a place like this’. Maybe you have wandered through an area office to a back room for your fit person interview and wondered the same.

National Customer Contact Centre (NCSC)

I have been to the contact centre in Newcastle. It is a big operation, the centre deals with enquiries for registration, safeguarding, mental health and online services, as well as general calls about CQC, and complaints/whistleblowing about providers. Inbound calls work their way from NCSC to various parts of the organisation. Written correspondence is also part of the function. The centre took a whopping 259,735 calls in 2015/16.

How can they help?

If you need assistance with a general query about registering, notifications, or help understanding sections of your application, have a concern or safeguarding you wish to report, they can help. This is not a 24-hour service and lines are open 8.30-5.30pm… and calls cost a standard rate.

Registration inspectors

They are there to:

  • Register new providers and/or managers
  • Vary conditions of registration
  • Cancel applications by providers and/or managers
  • Check unregistered providers

Most applications are processed within 50 days, and there were 34,998 registration processes completed in 2015/16.

Inspectors used to be generic covering all sectors, but now specialists are emerging to ensure a thorough process and to align with inspection.

Registration inspectors will contact you once they have made an initial assessment of the application, arranging a site visit or fit person interview. They are not a critical friend, their job is to impartially assess the application and make recommendations to register or propose to refuse.

How can they help me?

Once your application is assigned to them, you can email or call them if you need to alter the date of a visit, need a reasonable adjustment for an interview, or have questions about the process/questions about what they need to see. Remember though that you are proving yourself against the regulations, and if you are asking questions about your own service – like how to write information you should already have it is not going to go down well!

QCS doorstep friend

Now clearly we aren’t through the keyhole! But we can stand by you at the doorstep. Take a look at the front page for the myriad of experience QCS works with. You can ask us the questions (Sheila is on hand for you to ask her directly), phone in for advice and if you are signed up, use the outstanding resource that is the QCS system. This includes all of the policies and procedures you will need, updates on legislations and the new policy design has tips on outstanding and key facts for professionals and service users.

So as you reach for the doorbell... you know the support is behind you so you don’t need to waste time worrying about who waits inside - just use your keys!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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