Yesterday we met Kim Arnold from Choice Support, who came to give us training so we can take part in Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections as “experts by experience” – people who have direct experience of using health and social care services.

We learnt that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all health and social care services, even if they are private. This includes GP surgeries, hospitals, dentists, residential care homes, community mental health services, health wings in prisons, residential colleges, domiciliary care agencies, sheltered housing, hospices, Shared Lives, weight management clinics, fertility clinics, the ambulance service, and NHS Direct phone services.

They have to register with the CQC and are then inspected to check how good they are. After the Winterbourne View scandal, experts by experience who have learning disabilities have become involved with the CQC registration process as well as the inspections. Sometimes services wanting to register get turned down and cannot open.

After they are inspected, services are given a CQC rating of Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, or Inadequate. All services should display their rating – check to see when you next use a service. You can read the reports on the CQC website.

What will experts by experience from My Life My Choice be doing?

We will be part of the inspection team. Our main role will be talking to people who use the service, to find out how well the service works for them.

We learnt some useful things about going on inspections:

  • Bring a packed lunch in case there isn’t anywhere close by to get food.
  • Wear layers because hospitals and care homes are always very warm.
  • Bring hand cream to hospital visits because cleaning your hands a lot will make the skin dry.
  • In hospitals you have to roll your sleeves off and take off any bracelets so you are “bare below the elbow.”
  • Choice Support will book our train tickets for us.
  • They will also send us the Inspectors details, and templates for the reports we will write about our visit.

Why do CQC work with experts by experience?

  • It adds to the experience and expertise of our inspectors.
  • Helps CQC inspectors focus on what matters to people.
  • Help improve our inspections, our reports and our ratings.
  • Kim said “It is not a token gesture or we wouldn’t be involved.”

We are really looking forward to taking part in CQC inspections, and helping to improve services for people with learning disabilities. Our members will be paid for this work.


My Life My Choice is registered in England under charity number 1187726 at Unit 3, Watlington House, Watlington Road, Oxford. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website. To learn more, read our privacy policy.
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