The Care Quality Commission stopped issuing its own inspection star ratings back in 2010. Since then, some homes have undertaken independent inspections which they pay for. They are then provided with a star rating which can be used for marketing purposes. Care homes with a five-star rating can also demand a premium fee from those wishing to use the services, including local authorities.

Questions are now being raised over the consistency and value provided by the star ratings. There are many independent ratings companies and consultants and they are all vying for a finite amount of work.

The Care Quality Commission is now finding that some care homes with five-star ratings are not actually meeting essential standards laid down by the care regulator. The BBC programme, 5 Live Investigates has found that in one region, of 80 homes given a four- or five-star rating, 14 are failing to meet one or more of the essential criteria laid down by the CQC.

This has lead to serious concerns being raised about the welfare and protection of vulnerable adults who are placed in care homes by family members or local authorities who have taken account of the care homes’ star ratings and believe, as a result, that a care home is providing an outstanding level of care. CQC advises that people should visit homes and check their most recent CQC inspection report before making any decision on care.