An Interview with Sue Brand, Managing Director of RDB Star Rating

Photo Sue Brand1. What motivated you to set up the RDB Star Rating scheme?

The RDB Star Rating scheme (Residential and Domiciliary Care Benchmarking) was introduced in 1997 to identify, reward and promote ‘Quality Providers’.

The changes brought about by the introduction of 1993 Community Care Act empowered vulnerable people to decide how they wished their care to be delivered, including the opportunity to receive care services in their own Home, instead of having to go into a residential environment.  This new philosophy, which also included the introduction of needs assessments and capped budgets, was given to the Local Authorities to implement.

The RDB Star Rating system was developed by the industry for the industry in partnership with Local Authorities and the Independent Sector, to manage this change, in a beneficial and constructive way and to give local authorities a system to pay ‘Quality Providers’ an enhanced fee, as well as giving the care homes the opportunity to promote their businesses.

2. When was it launched? (and were you a care home owner at the time?)

It was launched in 1998.  I was a care home owner at the time and also chair of Brighton & Hove National Care Association (NCA).

3. Are there personal visits?

Yes – an RDB Care Quality Assessor (CQA) visits the home.  The assessment process takes between 2-5 days depending on the size and registration category of the home.

4. How are the homes judged?

 The model is made up of approximately 200 care standards and the home has to provide 10 points of evidence for each standard.  25 of the care standards that have a direct impact on the quality of life for the residents, are underpinned by a Quality Assurance care standard.  The Care Quality Assessor (CQA) collects the evidence from interviews with residents, staff and management and a review of the documentation.  The scores for each care standard are entered into a bespoke data base which converts them into a star rating.   A home can achieve between 2 – 5 stars.

5. Do the criteria they’re judged on cover such things as activities, stimulation, entertainment, interaction? Yes.

The model is made up of five sections as follows:

1. Individual care 2. Additional needs care
1.1   Daily living

1.2   Meals, mealtime & nutrition

1.3   Staff attitudes & behaviours

2.1 Nursing care

2.2 Mental health care

2.3 Learning difficulties care

3. Lifestyle care 4. Residential care
3.1 Private space

3.2 Home environment

3.3 Social programme

4.1 Management & administration

4.2 Staff and working practices

4.3 Health and Safety

5. Commitment to improving care
5.1 Leadership and performance management

5.2 Training and professional development

5.3 Quality assurance

6. Very briefly, what qualities (to your mind) constitute a first class care home/nursing/residential home? 

I believe that a care home is as strong as its weakest link.  For a care home to deliver first class care and services, it must be totally client focused and responsive to each individual’s holistic needs.  The RDB Star Rating system requires the care home to achieve a high rating in all the 5 different sections of the RDB model to obtain 5 stars.

7. You look to encourage residents’ feedback. How is this gathered and responded to?

Confidential questionnaires are sent to the home prior to the assessment for residents, families or advocates to complete, before the assessment takes place.  These are given to the CQA during their visit who then send them to Head Office to be benchmarked against the RDB standard. The home receives the results of the resident and staff questionnaires in graphical format, which gives the management valuable insight into how the residents and staff feel about the care and services they receive and contributes to the development of the home’s business plan.

If you are interested in becoming part of this quality initiative or for further information, please contact or visit

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