Navigating Change: Understanding the Care Quality Commission’s New Single Assessment Framework

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, staying abreast of regulatory updates is paramount. The Single Assessment Framework (SAF) is the new comprehensive approach introduced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to assess and monitor the quality of health and social care services. It represents a significant shift in the regulatory landscape, aiming to streamline and unify the assessment process across all health and social care providers. With the active roll out of the SAF across the South of England, we seek to explore some of the key information providers need to know to maintain regulatory compliance, improve care quality and prepare for inspection.

Embracing a unified approach

The Single Assessment Framework aims to streamline and simplify the assessment process, fostering a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to evaluating healthcare services. The framework will be used across all types of registered health and social care providers at all levels. This includes assessment of integrated care systems.

Key components of the Single Assessment Framework

Understanding the nuances of the new framework is pivotal for healthcare providers. The SAF integrates various elements, such as comprehensive risk assessment, patient feedback, and staff competency evaluations. This holistic approach ensures a thorough evaluation that goes beyond mere compliance, focusing on the actual delivery of quality care.

There are aspects of the previous framework that will remain:

  • The regulatory framework that underpins the delivery of care has not changed and is not changing. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (regulated activities) Regulations 2014 and the Fundamental standards of care are here to stay.
  • The 5 key questions will remain central to the assessment approach.
  • 4-point rating scale.
  • CQC inspection will continue to be a method used to support the assessment process.
  • Provider information request (PIR) from adult social care services, using the existing collection method.

The prominent changes are:

  • Quality Statements replace KLOES.
  • 6 evidence categories, with each of the 8 sector groups having slightly different evidence requirements.
  • Evidence submitted for each quality statement will be scored 1-4 (1 significant shortfalls – 4 exceptional standard).
  • An overall score from evidence submitted will be calculated for each key question and percentage given (25-38% Inadequate, 39-62% Requires Improvement, 63-87% Good, over 87% Outstanding).
  • The rating of a service is no longer the main driver for deciding when to next assess. Evidence will be collecting more fluently and can trigger an assessment at any time.
  • Judgements about quality will be made more regularly.

Enhancing accountability and transparency

With a sharper focus on accountability, the SAF promotes transparency in healthcare practices. Providers are now required to demonstrate not only compliance but also a commitment to continuous improvement. This shift encourages a culture of accountability, ultimately benefiting both healthcare providers and the individuals receiving care.

Preparing for implementation

As the healthcare landscape undergoes this transformation, preparation becomes key. We recommend:

  • Engaging with staff, keep them informed of the regulatory changes.
  • Revisiting internal processes, including identifying key pieces of evidence required for each quality statement.
  • Read the CQC’s provider guidance ‘our new approach to assessment’.
  • Ensure your contact details are up to date with the CQC and you are subscribed to the CQC’s email newsletters to get the latest information.
  • Watch the CQC’s videos and webinar recording on the new regulatory approach.
  • Keep revisiting for more updates and tips to navigate the new regulatory changes.


The CQC’s New Single Assessment Framework marks a significant stride towards a more integrated and patient-centric healthcare system. Embracing this change not only ensures compliance but also reflects a commitment to delivering exceptional care. In this dynamic era of healthcare, adaptation is not just a requirement; it is a cornerstone for success.

Stay tuned for more insights as we delve deeper into the implications and strategies for navigating the CQC’s New Single Assessment Framework.


Want to know more about how the Single Assessment Framework? Join one of our webinars, where we explain the details and can answer any questions you may have. To see when our upcoming webinars are, visit our CQC webinars page.

You can also view a preview of one of our previous webinars about preparing for the CQC Single Assessment Framework below:

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