Understand the single assessment inspection framework: a UK care home guide

As an experienced care provider, you’re no stranger to the winds of change blowing through the care home inspection landscape.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and other UK care regulators are reshaping the way they look at the quality of care, moving away from relying only on infrequent inspections, to monitoring through a combination of inspections, assessments and evidence collection. Find out more about what’s changing, and what isn’t, with CQC inspections here.

It’s a new era where the focus is on ongoing quality, rather than just a one-off inspection day. They’re blending regular risk checks with what are now being referred to as ‘observation visits’ rather than ‘inspections’, to ensure that the excellent care you provide isn’t just a flash in the pan but a consistent, day-to-day commitment.

They’ll pop in for a visit when they think there might be a problem with the care being given, or if they’re worried about a place not being open about how things are run.

They might also need to double-check the information that’s been given to them or have a chat with the right people. Just like before, these visits might be a surprise – no heads up! So, all care providers must be ready for these visits and understand what the CQC will be looking for.

This shift in approach is more about the warmth and personalised care you offer every single day. It’s about those heartfelt moments, the cosy atmosphere of your home, and how each resident’s needs are uniquely met.

In this guide, we’ll share tips to help your team excel under these new standards. We’ll discuss how to integrate these standards into your everyday operations, how to capture the great work that you are doing, and how innovation and teamwork can elevate the care you provide.

Getting to grips with new standards

The move towards a Single Assessment Framework in England means getting familiar with new quality statements. These aren’t just about ticking boxes; they’re real stories from those you care for, your team, and partners. The focus now is on the overall well-being of the people who live with you.

But let’s not forget, while England is moving towards this framework, other areas like Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, and Jersey have their own sets of laws and regulations.

For instance, Wales is gearing up for a significant change with the introduction of published ratings in 2025. They’re currently in the stage of shadow ratings, a kind of practice run that allows care homes to see where they stand and make improvements before the actual ratings are published. This move away from one-day inspections signifies a broader, more comprehensive look at care quality.

Just below, you’ll discover some practical advice for excelling in care homes across the UK, no matter which regulator you’re working with. So, let’s dive right in, shall we?

Practical advice for all-encompassing assessments and inspections

Here’s some practical advice to guide your care home through assessments and inspections, ensuring every resident feels cared for and understood.

Remember that whilst the CQC can and will pop in to see you and witness first hand the great care that you are providing, they will also ask you to show them through a variety of means that the standard of care is safe and good everyday, not just when they visit.

– 1. Capturing heartfelt moments: Make sure you keep a record of the special moments and big achievements of the people living with you. This could be anything from a resident learning a new skill to a small act of kindness. These stories show the heart of your care home.

Using photographs, surveys, thank you cards, memory boards and records of any conversations that demonstrate the great work that you are doing will help you show the CQC the efforts that you and your team are making to enrich the lives of those that live with you.

– 2. Tailoring care to each person: This is all about showing how your team goes the extra mile to meet each resident’s unique needs. It could be adapting activities to suit different abilities or making sure everyone feels included and valued.

For instance, think about the time you threw that brilliant gardening-themed birthday bash for Joan’s 90th. It wasn’t just a party; it was a celebration of her love for gardening, weaving her hobby into everyday life at the care home. This shows how you make each day special and personal for people.

Memory boards, newsletters, social events and trips out with residents are all great ways to demonstrate through evidence that care is uniquely tailored and inclusive.

Resident and carer gardening at a care home

Meeting the new standards

The latest rules take a good look at both the mental and physical well-being of your residents. It’s about understanding that great care touches every part of their lives and is uniquely tailored around personalities and life experiences.

How to shine with the new standards

– 1. Keeping your team up to speed: Make sure your staff are always learning and growing. Offer them regular training so they get the hang of these all-around care methods. It’s all about making sure everyone’s on the same page when it comes to providing heartfelt, comprehensive care. Keep them fully up to speed on how the standards are changing and what good care looks like.

When the regulators visit they are looking for great leadership through the team, they want to hear from your staff that they understand how to keep people safe and how they learn from things that happen everyday.

Your staff are a great asset, and will without doubt make a big difference to the outcome of these newly focussed visits. Empowering your staff to chat to the regulators, take a tour around the building together, meet and introduce themselves professionally or get involved with an activity or event are all signs of confident and inclusive leadership in the home.

– 2. Focusing on resident-led fun: Plan a variety of activities that cater to different interests. It’s about encouraging your residents to mingle, have a good time, and keep their minds active.

Do you take the time to ask your residents what they consider to be fun activities? Recording these conversations and making fun events happen just shows that the residents really are at the heart of what you do everyday. Think about those residents that are not so keen to get involved in group activities, how do they have fun?

Take Michael, for example. His care plan now includes music therapy sessions. They’re not just fun; they lift his mood and keep his mind sharp.

It’s a great way to show how you’re embracing these new standards and putting people at the heart of everything you do.

Mary on the other hand is shy and doesn’t like the idea of music therapy, but enjoys music all the same. A trip down memory lane through one to one sessions with your staff could open up a whole world of happy moments as they sit together and listen to past concerts or performances on YouTube of Frank Sinatra.

Getting ready for inspection with proactive steps

Being inspection-ready isn’t just about knowing what the standards are; it’s about weaving them into the fabric of your daily work so that you don’t even notice that they are there.

How to boost your inspection readiness

– 1. Living the standards: It’s key to make sure that the way you run your care home reflects these new standards. This is about making sure that the standards are part of your care home’s culture and attitude.

– 2. Keeping policies fresh and involved: Regularly check and update your policies. It’s a good idea to get your team involved in this process too.

This helps everyone stay on the same page and makes sure your policies are always up to date. Making policy changes regularly shows that you are committed to improving safety and learning lessons from things that have happened previously or have gone wrong. We all know that things do go wrong in care, and we expect that, however it is the action that we take afterwards that makes us stand out and helps us to lift the lid on poor care, raise the standards and be proud of the work that we do everyday.

– 3. Gathering solid proof: Document the high level of care you provide. This can be through traditional record-keeping or using digital methods. It’s about having clear evidence to show the quality of care you’re giving.

For example, think about the time after a staff workshop on empathy. One of the people who lives with you who used to get quite anxious started feeling a lot calmer. This shows the impact of ongoing staff development and is a great example to highlight during inspections. It’s proof that what you’re doing is really making a difference.

Staying ahead with new care trends

Being at the forefront of elderly care means being ready for new trends, changes in care practices, and keeping up with changes in regulations. This includes staying clued up on tech advances and adapting to changes in UK care regulations, where there’s a growing push for care that responds to individual needs and continuous quality improvement.

Looking to the future in care

– 1. Embracing tech advances: Stay up-to-date with the latest technologies that could make your care even better. This could be anything from new health monitoring tools to software that helps with day-to-day agency staffing management.

– 2. Going green: Think about how you can make your care home more eco-friendly and sustainable. This isn’t just good for the planet; it’s something that residents and their families really value.

For instance, using tablets for video calls lets people keep in touch with family members who might not be able to visit often. It’s a simple tech solution that can make a world of difference in their lives. It’s about using technology to bring a bit more joy and connection into their day-to-day life.

Forward-thinking planning in care

It’s vital to stay a step ahead, ready for what the future might bring. This means having a well-thought-out plan to make sure your care home doesn’t just adapt to changes but actually thrives. What are your goals and aspirations for the future of the care home?

Smart ways to plan ahead

– 1. Planning for the ‘what ifs’: Think about potential challenges, like staffing changes or evolving health needs of the people who live with you. Having a plan for these sorts of things means you won’t be caught off guard and shows good leadership and initiative.

– 2. Investing in your team: Make sure your staff are always learning and growing. Ongoing training and development are key to making sure your team is the best it can be.

Using opportunities and attending care shows and exhibitions help you and your team think about the ever changing landscape of care and technologies available. Creating strong relationships with specialist suppliers can also help you get ahead with new initiatives and free training for your workforce – they often provide tasty treats too for your team!

For example, with new research in nutrition, you’ve started including foods in your menus that are good for brain health. This not only boosts the wellbeing of people but also shows that you’re keeping up with the latest in health and nutrition. It’s a great example of how staying informed can have a real, positive impact on your care.

Boosting community and resident participation

Building a real community feel and getting everyone involved are key parts of providing truly brilliant care.

How to get everyone more involved

– 1. Give the people who live with you a voice: Set up resident committees or councils so they can have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. It’s about making sure they feel heard and valued. Inviting visitors and local businesses into your home from the community to meet and hear from residents can also help open up opportunities and enable residents to be able to access a range of activities that may be of interest. Local residents can also be a great help when thinking about planning social events.

– 2. Regularly check in for feedback: Organise sessions where individuals and their families can share their thoughts and ideas. This is a great way to make sure you’re meeting their needs and wishes.

For instance, think about that sensory garden you set up. It came about because the people who live with you suggested it during one of your council meetings. It’s a perfect example of how listening to your residents can lead to wonderful additions to your care home that everyone can enjoy.

Remember to document these meetings so that you can keep records of how you are working together.

Care home carer laughing with two residents

Enhancing transparency and communication

Excellent care and building trust heavily rely on clear, open communication and being honest and upfront.

How to boost openness and communication

– 1. Encourage open chats: Create a friendly environment where everyone – individuals, their families, and staff – feels okay about speaking up, whether it’s about ideas or concerns. provide clear signposting for anyone who wishes to talk openly about something they are worried about, whether that is an employee, resident or their families.

Freedom to speak up is a powerful campaign and can help you bottom out some of the more taboo subjects that are sometimes avoided.

– 2. Regular team catch-ups: Make sure you have frequent staff meetings. This is a chance to talk about any new changes, share good practices, and think about ways to do things even better.

For instance, remember when you adjusted Dorothy’s care plan after their family gave some really useful feedback about her behaviour? It was a great example of how listening and responding quickly can lead to positive changes in care. This kind of openness is key to providing care that really meets the needs of the people in your care.

Collecting evidence and always getting better

We hope you have found this guide useful.

In our next post, we dive a bit deeper into gathering solid proof of the great care we provide, and share handy tips on how to collect and present the evidence that proves our ongoing commitment to excellence in care.

Read your guide to collecting evidence here.


How Florence can help

Working in care, you’re responsible for the needs of the most vulnerable. The single assessment framework seeks to put those needs first—simplifying and streamlining the assessment process to promote continuous improvement and the highest possible quality of care for everyone.

To deliver excellent, people-centred care, you need a great team of people. That’s where Florence comes in. Our app helps you fill shifts fast with your own staff first, and cover any gaps with high-quality, experienced Florence professionals. With us you can:

– 1. Autofill shifts with permanent team members to keep your agency spend low.

– 2. Fill gaps with our pool of 100,000+ fully vetted Florence care professionals.

– 3. Promote continuity of care by inviting the same professionals back again and again

– 4. Permanently hire care professionals who meet your organisation’s needs for free.

-5. Download full staff records in seconds to help with reporting, audits and inspection evidence-gathering.

Find out how Florence can help you deliver excellent care. Book a demo below.

Book a demo with Florence

You also may be interested in:

How to grow your care home business sustainably

How to build a strong staff learning culture at your care home

What’s the secret to achieving an outstanding CQC rating?

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