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What makes a good or outstanding care home?

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What makes a good or outstanding care home?

There are currently more than 60 outstanding care homes in the UK and around 800 good care homes. This means that only a marginal 0.5% are given the top rating yet an impressive 64% of the homes are awarded the next best rating. What sets these care homes apart from inadequate homes is the dedicated care their staff provide and the focus on continual improvement. Good and outstanding care homes refuse a routine care model and instead give residents the freedom to choose what is best for them. This consideration of a person’s emotional wellbeing is essential for protecting their human rights – after all, everyone deserves good care.

Why care homes care about their rating

When a care home receives a good or outstanding rating it’s a huge honour because staff feel as though their hard work has been recognised. It’s also validation that they’re providing exemplary care and encourages staff to continue giving a high level of support to residents in the home. As an industry, social care is very concerned with reputation and sentiment. Families, staff and wider communities share news about both good and bad care home ratings, which means a bad rating can lead to a bad reputation in the longer term. Even when ratings improve, care homes with previous poor ratings can struggle to attract new staff, which creates further pressures from the Care Quality Commission as well as issues around filling beds.

Finally, the ratings are designed to ensure that residents receive first-class treatment and are a great help when people and their families are deciding which care home is best suited for their needs.

What sets apart good and outstanding care homes?

The Care Quality Commission is an independent regulator of care which inspects care homes in the UK. When assessing a home, they are looking for evidence of care being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led; but what really sets apart the outstanding and good care homes is the acknowledgement that improvements can be made. Management and staff in these homes proactively search for feedback and use this to enhance their level of care.

The five parameters that care homes are assessed on


For a care home to get a good rating for their safety there must be evidence that staff are taking a consistent and preventative approach. This requires clear procedures to be in place but also high-quality staff who are meticulous in their care. In an outstanding care home staff must demonstrate that they are innovative in their approach limiting risk and being supportive of residents having their independence.


Effective care must be driven by quality and safety and staff should work collaboratively to ensure that every person’s complex needs are understood. Outstanding care homes have clear visions and values and they must show a dedication to improving the effectiveness of their care. Caring CQC are clear that a good care home must actively support residents to develop relationships within their community. Staff at outstanding homes will have exhibited compassion and delivered care well beyond anyone’s expectations. These top-rated care homes are acknowledged for taking a personalised approach to care.


Inspectors assess whether care homes involve people and their support system in the care plan, thereby empowering them to make their own choices. To be considered as going that extra mile there must be evidence that staff are committed to reducing restrictions and giving them a voice to express which activities will suit their needs and preferences.


Managers at good care homes must create a positive culture and a clear vision so that staff are all working collectively towards the same goals. They must work collaboratively with other local authorities to deliver joined-up care. Those managers recognised for their exceptional attention to detail will involve their staff in the renewing of goals whilst also being aware of best practice and conscious of the latest technology.

They adopt a person-centred approach

If a care home is rated as good or outstanding for these five parameters they are adopting a person-centred approach. The true value of this approach can be seen over time as staff nurture their relationships with the residents. Therefore, this is a long-term goal and in order to reach it, staff must dedicate every day to improving their communication and understanding of residents on a personal level.

One way they do this is to help residents fill out their daily diary, including information on which activities they enjoy, what treatment is helping them feel more independent and an ‘about me’ section. This creates a snapshot of the care they’re receiving; the more detail it’s kept in the better staff can see if it’s in line with their care plan. In good and outstanding care homes registered managers will use these to track the effectiveness of the care.


The digital era began in the 1970s but since the turn of the century it has really started gaining momentum. Though the health and social care sectors were not the first to embrace this new era, technology is playing a larger role in these sectors.

Good and outstanding homes are applauded for using technology because it gives management and staff instant access to information and this supports a more responsive care model. For example, if a care home is focused on learning from accidents, they can use technology to access patient records, review their history and use this information to manage risk. Additionally, digital documentation can help care homes to keep track of staff training and identify anyone who is due for more training.

There is a strong focus on staff development

CQC highlighted that in care homes which needed improvement 71% presented a training gap. To receive a good or outstanding rating for effectiveness care homes must prove that they allocate time for staff development and follow-through by offering the necessary help. This supports staff to stay up to date on best practice and allows them to display their ability to be innovative. Top-rated care homes are known to introduce staff development right from the point of hire by customising inductions for each person. And the development doesn’t stop there - these care homes implement ongoing strategies where they gather feedback and use it to roll out performance management.

Why work in a care home?

Whether you have experience working in a care home or the wider social care sector, working in a care home could be the most valuable and rewarding place to develop your career. In top-ranking care homes, employees can spend a lot of one-on-one time with residents which allows them to understand their complex and differing needs. It’s this combination of compassion and problem-solving that enables you to deliver personalised care.

Enlist our help

Whether you’re looking for a job in permanent social care or temporary social care Charles Hunter Associates can help you. We're a specialist recruitment agency and our team will take the time to get to know you so that we find the job that’s right for you, so start the search with us.