Joint reviews have a “great deal of impact at all levels”, the
newly appointed director of joint reviews told Community Care,
writes Katie Leason.
Sue Mead stressed “with absolute confidence” that joint reviews
have a significant impact on councillors, chief executives, and
social services directors as well as those who receive the
“I see that impact every week. If I didn’t think they were
delivering that impact I wouldn’t have applied for the job of
leading reviews,” she said.
But she added that councils do not always learn from the joint
review experience of other councils, and seem to need the
“uncomfortable jolt” of their own investigation.
“Maybe councils could take learning from other people so that
there is not the need to say the same things,” she explained.
Mead has been part of the joint review team since 1997 holding a
number of roles including that of assistant director. Before
joining the joint review team she was chief inspector of Birmingham
social services, having qualified as a social worker in the late
60s and spending time working in mental health and children’s
She claimed that despite her reputation for being a “tough
person” she brings humility to inspections. “Sometimes it is easier
to do the analysis and feedback than turning things around,” she
The five year programme of joint reviews is due to finish at the
end of next year, and Mead is keen to ensure that those remaining
will not be treated as second best.
“I will be steering through the last joint reviews in England
and Wales. One of my prime objectives is to ensure councils in the
latter stages have as challenging and fair reviews as those at the
beginning. I want them to have as much impact and be of as much
value to councils in the improvement agenda as the first ones.”
Mead insisted that the joint review process continues to be
robust in terms of the variety of people consulted, but pointed out
that the process would be different if it was being set up now.
“I would say that increasingly now social care is being
delivered in different ways in different partnerships and the
interface with the health service is more and more critical. If we
were starting afresh with a joint review process we would put even
greater emphasis with checking out those boundaries. As care trusts
and children’s trusts come online the system will need to be
redesigned to look at how the new systems are working,” she
She added that the system of inspecting social services will
change significantly once the Commission for Social Care Inspection
is up and running, but emphasised that a type of joint review
process should be “used proportionately as part of a toolkit of
products for inspection”.
Mead’s predecessor John Bolton is to take up a new post as
director of social services with Coventry council.