From October 2014 onwards, our inspectors will be using the Short Observational Framework for Inspection (SOFI) during inspections of care homes for older people.

The SOFI tool provides a framework to enhance the observations we already make at inspections about the wellbeing of people using the service and staff interaction with them.

What is SOFI?

In some Care Inspectorate inspection reports, you may read about SOFI, which stands for Short Observational Framework for Inspection

The Bradford Dementia Group and the Care Quality Commission (CQC, the regulator of care services in England) developed the tool. England, Wales and Scotland now use the toolto capture the experiences of people who use services and who may not be able to express this for themselves.

They originally designed it for inspectors to use while inspecting services for people with dementia or severe learning disabilities; however, regulators in England (CQC) and Wales (CSSIW) have extended its use to include anyone who has difficulties communicating their experience of care.

How do inspectors use SOFI?

SOFI is one of the components of an inspectors' toolkit. Inspectors can only use it once they have been through the appropriate training 

It is not designed to be used alone. It acts as one source of evidence – in making a judgement; they can only use the data if they can corroborate it by other evidence. 

The observations do not replace talking to people who use services but can help an inspector get a clearer picture. Using the tool helps to raise questions about care practice that the inspector can then follow up by checking other sources of evidence.

They can also use the observations to check evidence gathered from other sources such as care plans and talking to staff or visitors.

What information does SOFI capture?

Inspectors observe the mood and engagement of people using the services and the quality of staff interactions. They also make notes on other aspects of care practice during their observations. 

Can care service providers use SOFI?

SOFI was designed and licenced for regulators, therefore, care service providers and commissioners of services cannot use it. The University of Bradford and the CQC own the copyright for SOFI.

If you have any queries please get in touch with your lead inspector.

Robert Peat

Director of Inspection