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With the understandable restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, being mindful of the cultural needs of service users is especially important for providers.

CQC define ‘Culturally appropriate care’ (also known as ‘culturally competent care’) as care that is sensitive to people’s cultural identity or heritage, being alert and responsive to beliefs or conventions that may be determined by cultural heritage. CQC has recently emphasised that this theme is more important than ever during the pandemic because people using services may have had less contact with people that affirm their culture, as well as more time with people that do not, had less access to their community outside their home and experienced more life events that have cultural significance, including end of life.

CQC has just published guidance highlighting the importance of culturally appropriate care. It explains that cultural identity or heritage can cover a range of things including “ethnicity, nationality or religion. Or it might be to do with the person’s sexuality or gender identity. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have a particular culture. So do Deaf people who use British Sign Language.”

Considerations of culturally appropriate care are relevant to Regulation 9: Person centred care, Regulation 10: Dignity and respect, Regulation 11: Need for consent of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 and the topic of culturally appropriate care appears in all 5 key lines of enquiry.

CQC’s new guidance provides some helpful information indicating why CQC will be looking for in relation to culturally appropriate care under each key question. It is important that Registered Managers review the guidance and consider how they would evidence to CQC that they meet the criteria. For example, that they have considered the staff team and the cultural knowledge and skills within it in a positive way. Another example is the Registered Manager or relevant person in each organisation has engaged with senior staff and keyworkers to, for example, look at the shared culture of the service and finally for care staff ensure they are aware of the key points, for example, that cultural needs vary.

Ultimately, providing care should always be based on an assessment of individual needs and providers are encouraged to ensure that they have robust procedures in place to be able to evidence they are providing culturally appropriate care. CQC has provided examples of culturally appropriate care listed under categories including religious or spiritual practice, cross-cultural communication, emotional support amongst others, which you may find helpful.

CQC has also emphasised the importance of understanding cultural values, also known as cultural value preferences. These value sets are neither positive nor negative but should be understood on an individual level as they can influence the way we wish to be treated and how we treat others. Providers need to operate in a way that is sensitive to others cultural values, how they would like these reflected in the care they receive and how these values may be expressed and supported by for example listening without judgement and evidence that this is part of their business as usual practice.

If you are concerned about how this will affect your organisation, would like to clarify your understanding of what is required or need assistance following an inspection, our specialist CQC solicitors would be pleased to discuss your situation and options with you. Please contact our CQC lawyers by email: or telephone: 01202 786187.