By law, all care homes in the UK must provide services to minimum standards of safety and quality.

On this page you can find information on the following subjects:

1. Regulators in the UK
2. Minimum standards in care homes
3. Care home inspections
4. Care home inspection reports

Regulators in the UK

Each country in the UK has its own independent regulatory body responsible for keeping a register of care homes, and for checking them to ensure that they meet national standards:

In England: the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
In Northern Ireland: the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)
In Scotland: the Care Inspectorate
In Wales: the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW)

These national regulators are independent watchdogs responsible for:

  • setting national minimum standards for care homes
  • monitoring and inspecting care homes to make sure that the services they provide come up to scratch.

Minimum standards in care homes

Each of the four regulators has set minimum standards that a resident of a care home should expect. These standards are documented and can be downloaded from the respective regulator’s website. The following represents a broad summary of the type of rights expected for residents in a care home. Your relative should be: 

  • treated politely and with dignity
  • able to have privacy for themselves, and with relatives and friends when they visit
  • able to deal with their own finances and spend their money how they choose
  • able to eat food prepared in line with their faith and to worship when and where they want to
  • able to choose food, and given the time and space to relax and enjoy the meal
  • able to choose when they get up in the mornings and go to bed at night
  • able to complain if they are unhappy with their care.

Care home inspections

Care homes should be inspected regularly to ensure they meet the minimum standards and are delivering quality care. How often they are inspected depends on the rating they received at the last inspection, and the feedback given by care home residents and local authorities. Generally, those care homes with poor ratings or negative feedback will be inspected more frequently than those that are doing well.

Regulators can inspect care homes at any time.

Care home inspection reports

Following an inspection of a care home, details of the findings are written into a report. These reports are publicly available – you can request a copy from the care home or the regulator or find them on the regulators' websites. 

Inspections in England

If you are looking at care homes in England, our Care services directory has a link through to each of the latest CQC inspection reports. At present the CQC has two sets of ratings running concurrently as they moved to a new form of inspection in October 2014. They are expecting to have reported on all care providers with this new inspection style by end November 2016. 

In our directory we show the new CQC inspection ratings, which show if the service is:

  • safe
  • effective
  • caring
  • responsive to people's needs
  • well-led.

Each aspect is individually rated from outstanding through to good, requires improvement or inadequate. There is also an overall rating applied.

Care homes are legally obliged to display the results of their most recent inspection on their premises and website, if they have one.

Inspections in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

The regulators in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales don’t award providers with ratings.

More information

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2015
Next review due: 30 September 2016