Safe staffing adult social care services


Safe staffing is all about having enough of the right staff to deliver high quality care and support. It’s also one of the things that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will inspect, so it’s vital that you get it right.

Skills for Care’s ‘Guide to safe staffing’ explains what the CQC looks for in terms of safe staffing and how services can meet these regulations, including:

  • deciding and maintaining safe staffing levels for your service;
  • safe recruitment practices; and
  • ensuring your staff are safe and competent.

Despite safe staffing being fundamental to quality care and support, the CQC report “too many providers [are] struggling along without having enough staff to deliver safe and effective services”. This puts your staff and the people you support at risk.

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Although there’s no single solution to address safe staffing, there are some common things that services rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ by the CQC do.

It’s a manager’s responsibility to decide how many staff you need to deliver a safe, effective and responsive service. Good and outstanding providers decide staffing levels based on the needs and wishes of the people they support, use realistic formulas that go beyond basic ‘care tasks’ and give staff time to do everything their role involves outside of directly delivering care, such as filling in care plans and doing handovers.

They consider other things that might impact safe staffing levels – such as the layout of the service, the impact of long shifts, annual leave, sickness, training and the implications of using bank and agency staff – and use this to inform their staffing rota.

People who need care and support have a consistent team of staff who know them well, and operational processes enable this continuity of care.

But safe staffing isn’t just about numbers – it’s about ensuring staff have the right values and skills.

Safe recruitment practices help you attract and select the right people for your service. Good and outstanding providers use a values-based approach to their recruitment, give people a realistic view of the role and do the right checks before people start work.

They give new staff a thorough induction that covers the Care Certificate standards as a minimum, and provide opportunities for ongoing support, learning and development and supervision.

This insight is taken from Skills for Care’s ‘Guide to safe staffing’, which you can download for free at


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