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Understanding good leadership in the context of English care home inspection reports

Ceara Mongan (Suffolk Business School, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, UK)
Will Thomas (Suffolk Business School, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, UK)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 28 May 2021

Issue publication date: 3 August 2021




As part of their inspection of care homes in England, the statutory inspector (the Care Quality Commission [CQC]) makes a judgement on the quality of the home’s leadership. Their view is critical as it is intended to inform consumer choice and because the statutory nature of inspection means these views hold considerable authority. The purpose of this paper is to look at the content of a selection of reports and seek to determine what the CQC understands by the concept of “good leadership”.


A purposive sample of recent CQC inspection reports was selected and subjected to a qualitative content analysis. Inspections are structured around five main questions. The resulting themes describe areas of focus within the section of reports that feature the question “Are they well-led?”.


Inspection reports were found to focus on four main themes: safety and quality of care; day-to-day management of staff; governance and training in the home; and integration and partnership working. In the discussion section, the authors reflect on these themes and suggest that the CQC’s view of leadership is rather limited. In particular, while an emphasis is placed within the literature and policy on the importance of leadership in delivering change and quality improvement, little attention is paid to this within the leadership section of inspection reports.

Research limitations/implications

The authors’ research is based on a small-scale sample of inspection reports; nevertheless, it suggests a number of avenues for further research into the way in which leadership and management capabilities are developed and monitored in the sector.


The analysis in this report offers a view of how the inspection regime implements its own guidance and how it assesses leadership. The reports, as public-facing documents, are artefacts of the inspection regime and critical not just as evidence of the practice of inspection but as influence on care home operations and the choices of care home residents and their families.



Mongan, C. and Thomas, W. (2021), "Understanding good leadership in the context of English care home inspection reports", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 167-180.



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