Delphi Guides /

August 2022

How to achieve an Outstanding CQC rating


Getting an outstanding CQC rating is not easy, with only an estimated 3% of care providers achieving it. Since it is such a difficult task to achieve this rating, services that do must go above and beyond what is expected of them in order to standout to the inspector. Despite this, there are certain actions that can be taken to increase the likelihood of being rated “Outstanding” following an inspection.


The power of planning for an inspection cannot be overestimated. While the care that a service provides should consistently be excellent, properly preparing for an announced inspection can serve well for receiving an outstanding rating.

The first step in planning for a CQC inspection is understanding the areas of improvement and excellence from any previous inspections. If you can understand these areas, achieving an outstanding rating is much more within reach already.


Unsurprisingly, the leadership of a care service contributes to the rating that is given by an inspector. The effect of good leadership can be seen throughout a service with the CQC even reporting that “services that improve tend to have leaders who are visible and accountable to staff, promote an open and positive organisational culture, and engage effectively with partners.”

By ensuring that a care service is organised and that policies and procedures are effective and fair can ensure that the care that is provided is of the highest quality possible. Leadership can include anything from policy creation all the way through to the morale of the workforce and how much they strive to provide excellent care.

Mock Inspections

Preparation is key when striving for an Outstanding CQC rating. One particularly effective method of preparation is with mock inspections. During a mock inspection, key areas of improvement can be identified and corrected before the official inspection takes place.

A mock inspection can be completed internally by a member of the management or care team, but they must be done without bias. Due to this, many care providers elect to hire a third party inspection service to conduct a mock inspection on their behalf in order to truly get the most accurate results and areas of improvement.


Prior to inspection, looking at recent CQC reports can provide useful insights into the things that other care providers are doing in order to being given outstanding ratings. Understanding the differentiation between why an inspector gives an “Outstanding” rating rather than a “Good” one can help in identifying areas of improvement or excellence.

Play to your strengths

In order to receive an Outstanding rating, only 2 of the 5 KLOEs need to be rated as outstanding. This, however, does not mean that the other areas can be forgotten but rather that a service should provide a consistently good service before focusing on the areas that they excel in.

Building on the existing strengths of the service can prevent resources being spread too thin and allow the service as a whole to excel across the board.

Continual Improvement

Despite only, technically, requiring to achieve ‘Outstanding’ on two of the five Key Lines of Enquiry, an inspector will also take into account any aspects of the service that were outstanding at the time of the last inspection. This is to ensure care providers who are awarded an Outstanding rating from a CQC inspector have been able to demonstrate continual innovation and a consistent improvement cycle.

Provide the best care possible

Unfortunately, no amount of preparation can help achieve an Outstanding rating if the service being provided doesn’t meet the CQC’s criteria. The only sure-fire way to receive an Outstanding rating from a CQC inspector is to provide an excellent service, both through management and the care provided to the patients or residents.

Need some help?

Here at Delphi Care, our team of expert care consultants have a wealth of experience in performing mock inspections and helping care providers across the country improve and achieve the best rating possible.

Contact our team today to learn more about our services and how our Task Force can support your service’s specific needs!

If you would like to chat with one of our consultants, then why not book a meeting now.
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