Care homes will be subject to spot checks, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) has revealed.
Surprise themed "sweeps" by inspectors will be carried out at all care homes for the elderly and disabled, particularly checking for quality of food and use of sedatives.
The new surprise inspections will be carried out in addition to the CSCI's reformed key inspections, which will give care homes a hotel-style star rating.
It is hoped that by pinpointing areas for improvement and by introducing a grading scheme, homes will be given the incentive to reach standards beyond a minimum of acceptability.
Also, there is currently no official recognition of excellent standards within the care home sector.
The consultation document that lays out these further initiatives has also stipulated that homes will be required to allow residents to continue with their activities and interests, which it describes as "leisure, social activities and lifelong learning and [access] to universal, public and commercial services".
There are also clearer guidelines on "end-of-life" treatment and what options a home must give to its residents in their final days.