Care Inspectorate guidance for services

Visit our COVID-19 FAQs page for more information.  

Scottish Government monitoring uptake and provision of childcare places 

The Scottish Government continues to monitor the uptake and provision of places in early learning and childcare settings.  This includes private and third-sector all-day childcare services including nurseries, out of school care and childminders (not local authority settings). Information about local authority settings will be gathered on a separate survey.  

It is vital that these services complete this short online survey daily by 15:00 each day.  You can access the survey here.

It is acknowledged that many settings have now closed.  If your setting is closed, please submit the survey once.  If your setting becomes operational please complete this on a daily basis before 15:00.

Information will be collated by Scottish Government and alongside the local authority data, this will be used to monitor the level of provision during the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Your continued support with this is appreciated.

Scottish Government supplementary national child protection guidance (31 March 2020)

Scottish Government has written to key organisations with responsibilities around child protection to inform them of supplementary guidance now available to support them to carry out their duties during the COVID-19 emergency.

You can view the letter and guidance here

Guidance from Scottish Government - social distancing in education and childcare settings (updated 31 March 2020)

The Scottish Government has published guidance for organisations and their staff working in local authority, independent and grant-aided schools, other education and childcare settings that are providing care to vulnerable children and children of key workers.

Supporting people to keep in touch when care homes are not accepting visitors (updated 30 March 2020)

Where care homes are not accepting visitors, it is important that systems are put in place to enable people to keep in touch. This is a time of concern and worry for people about their loved ones and it is important that they can keep in touch. It is also important for the health and wellbeing of people who live in services to not feel abandoned by family and friends.

Download our supporting people to keep in touch when care homes are not accepting visitors guide.

SCLD coronavirus information for people with learning disabilities (updated 30 March 2020)

The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) has produced guidance for people with learning disabilities on the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.  This includes easy-read common questions and stay at home advice.

Find out more on their website here or join their Facebook group ‘SCLD stay in touch’, which is open to anyone. 

Guidance from the Scottish Government for early learning and childcare services (updated 27 March 2020)

The Scottish Government has issued new guidance: 

The following guidance has also been updated: 

Update following guidance for childminders (updated 26 March 2020)

Following the distribution of the Scottish Government guidance which sets out the implications for childminding services on 25 March 2020, there has been a request for clarification in relation to the number of households childminders can support at any one time and over the week.

In relation to this, the advice is that childminders should care for the children of no more than two households (in addition to the childminder’s own household) at any one time. Where childminders are working with more than two families over the course of the week, it is advised that they consider additional cleaning measures to reduce risk of transmission via surfaces and equipment.

We hope this provides clarification to support childminders continue to provide that critical childcare during this period.

You can download the guidance here

Advice note for practitioners from the Mental Welfare Commission (updated 26 March 2020)

The Mental Welfare Commission is being contacted for advice on mental health care and treatment related to this pandemic.

In light of this, and in anticipation of emergency legislation currently going through Parliament, they have produced this advice note for practitioners who are using the Mental Health Act and Adults with Incapacity Act when caring for patients.

Guidance for childminders (updated 25 March 2020)

The Scottish Government has issued guidance which sets out the implications for childminding services.

NHS NSS triage centre for social care (updated 24 March)

NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) has set up a helpline to deal with social care supplies during COVID-19.   

At the moment, the helpline is to be used only in cases where there is an urgent supply shortage and a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.  This will be reviewed regularly in the coming days and weeks. 

Care service providers can reach the NHS NSS triage centre by calling 0300 303 3020.

When contacting the helpline, providers will be required to:

  • answer a series of short screening questions 
  • confirm they have fully explored business as usual procurement routes
  • confirm they have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 and therefore have a need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • provide their Care Inspectorate registration number.

The helpline will be open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.

Near Me – new guidance for care home settings (updated 23 March)

Near Me is a video consulting service that enables people to have health and social care appointments from home or wherever is convenient. All you need is a device for making video calls like a smartphone and an internet connection. Near Me is a secure form of video consulting approved for use by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland. Guidance is available for care homes, residential homes, housing associations and hospices

Further guidance is also available for implementing Near Me in:

Closure of schools and early learning and childcare settings (updated 23 March)

The Deputy First Minister issued a letter on Thursday 19 March 2020 with an update on the closure of schools and early learning and childcare settings. You can read the letter here.

The Scottish Government has also published further information: 

Staffing in services during coronavirus outbreak (updated 20 March)

Child to adult ratios feature in our registration and inspection of early learning and childcare (ELC). However, for other service types, including care homes, the Care Inspectorate stopped issuing staffing schedules at the point of registering a service in 2018. Instead, we expect the staffing numbers, and skills and experience of staff to reflect the needs of people who use services. 

At this extremely challenging time, we will support all services in their need to apply flexibility and judgement around staffing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people using the service. We recognise that services will need to be creative and make use of a wider range of resources. This could potentially include staff from other public services and volunteers. We recognise that this will mean services may not be able to undertake all normal recruitment checks as quickly and easily as they did before. 

However, during this period it is important that providers put in place structures to support and oversee staff in their role, including any volunteers and unregistered staff. The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for registering the social care workforce. People can work in registrable roles for a period of 12 months without being registered, which enables services to adopt a flexible approach.

You can view the SSSC Guidance here.

This highlights the six-month period after starting work to obtain registration. This applies to:

  • new staff you might recruit
  • workers covering other roles due to staff shortages
  • students who seek work to help with shortages.

Registration and variations to registration (updated 20 March)

We intend to be flexible around our registration practice where we may have to register different facilities as time goes on. We will prioritise our registration work to support the national response and the sustainability of services.


  • registered services that are in premises already registered


  • temporary new services set up as an emergency response and provided in a place that members of the public normally visit with a reasonable expectation of being safe, for example, a church, church hall, faith group premises, school, school hall, community centre, library, town hall, restaurant, or other licensed premises

We will issue without a registration or variation visit or payment of a fee, a registration certificate with conditions for a period of up to six months provided:

a) the provider has completed an application form with information about the service to be provided, including staffing and premises safety

b) there are no concerns in relation to the provider or staff group

c) the provider/applicant confirms in writing any further information we require.

We will give all such applications immediate priority.

Care Inspectorate Registration Contingency Plan

Revised notification guidance (updated 19 March)

In light of the current outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19, we have revised our notifications guidance with immediate effect and until further notice. Every service registered with the Care Inspectorate must complete a notification of ‘Outbreak of Infectious Disease’ via their eForms account.

Services must notify us within 24 hours if someone using the service has:

  • a suspected case of COVID-19
  • a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • died due to COVID-19.

We do not require to be notified about staff or self-isolation. 

We may share the notification information with third parties as required to assist with emergency and contingency planning, and to monitor the virus spread in care services.

You should inform your health and social care partnership or local authority.

You can download our revised guidance below:

Inspections, complaints, and joint inspections (updated 13 March)

The Care Inspectorate has a duty to consider carefully how best to support care services in the vital work they do caring for vulnerable people. 

We have already taken the decision to cease our inspections of care services and our joint inspections of local authority social work services and health and social care partnerships at this time, and put in place arrangements which will involve gathering information, assessing the level of risk in care services and establishing assurances about the quality of care people experience. 

In order to protect the safety and wellbeing of people experiencing care we are only making visits to services when that is absolutely necessary.  

We are also operating in a similar way to deal with complaints about care. 

Inspection reports and complaint outcomes which are in progress will be placed on hold until further notice. 

Anyone with a concern about a care service should, in the first instance, raise this with the manager of the service. The Care Inspectorate will consider complaints and will apply a risk assessment that may result in complaints being referred to the service provider.  

Further information

Information is available on the NHS Inform website. The key messages for Scotland are:   

  • As part of the Scotland-wide, coordinated response to coronavirus, NHS 24 provides the most up to date information and advice here.  
  • NHS 24 has also set up a dedicated helpline for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms but are seeking information. The helpline number is 0800 028 2816 and is available Monday to Friday, 0800 to 1000, Saturday and Sunday, 0900 to 1700. 
  • People who have travelled to an affected area and have symptoms of a cough, fever or difficulty breathing should stay at home and phone their GP (family doctor), or call NHS 24 on 111 if their GP surgery is closed.
  • People with general questions are advised to visit in the first instance. This is the quickest and easiest way to get information and it also means that the 111 service is able to help those people with more immediate clinical need. NHSinform includes an interactive self-help guide where people can answer a few simple questions on line to assess whether they need to seek further help or advice by telephone.
  • There is a communications toolkit with information for health and care settings to download, share and print  – please be aware that this is updated as the situation develops so should be checked frequently. Please use the latest version in your setting and update if required. 

NHS 24 has active Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels that are the official social feeds for Coronavirus in Scotland. You can follow these from the links below. 

Health Protection Scotland has also produced information and guidance which should be useful and this is updated at regular intervals.

The Scottish Government summary of response arrangements for coronavirus in Scotland can be found here.   

Other guidance

NHS Inform has published guidance leaflets and posters in a variety of different languages and easy-read format. You can download these from their website here