CSCI feels the heat from own staff

Writes Mithran Samuel

The Commission for Social Care Inspection is facing a crisis of confidence among staff over its leadership, management of change and new inspection regime, surveys have revealed.

Its annual staff survey for 2007, answered in April by 55% of staff, found over two-thirds felt CSCI did not value employees and a similar proportion felt  it did not manage change well. Over half felt staff were not consulted about changes affecting them.

The results, seen by Community Care, follow a period of significant change for CSCI since its creation in 2004.

In April its children’s function was transferred to Ofsted, while in 2008-9, it will merge into Ofcare, a unified inspectorate for health and social care.

In 2006, it implemented a significant shift in its approach to inspecting adult services, with periodic inspections replaced by an approach whereby the frequency of service inspection is based on the risk to service users, as indicated by self-assessments, complaints and other intelligence received by CSCI.

This has been accompanied by year-on-year budget and headcount cuts. CSCI started the year with more than 2,200 staff but is seeking to cut over 350 jobs in its inspection and regulation department this year.

The staff survey found 62% felt CSCI improved the lives of social care service users, which CSCI cited as support for its direction of travel.

However, just 36% agreed with the statement that CSCI could deliver what it had committed itself to, while another survey, released last month by unions represented at CSCI, found widespread opposition to the new inspection regime, though it was answered by only 11% of staff.

Over 80% of respondents to the union survey said CSCI needed to inspect services more frequently, while almost three-quarters said CSCI needed more capacity to respond to complaints and concerns about providers.

Unison’s national officer for social care, Helga Pile, said job cuts had meant that CSCI lacked the capacity to respond effectively to intelligence – the kernel of the new inspection system.

She said: “CSCI feels that with that level of staff you can deliver a safe and effective inspection service. Our members feel that you can’t.”
One inspector said: “The whole system is being overloaded. We have a high number of people suffering from stress.”

CSCI’s director of inspection, regulation and review Mike Rourke defended the new inspection regime, saying more inspections were no guarantee that services would improve and adding: “We certainly have the capacity to address what comes up about services.”

He denied the changes were driven by government budget cuts saying that, on the contrary, the Department of Health had cut funding in response to CSCI’s new strategy.

But he added: “We are undergoing a lot of change. We understand this change is unsettling for staff and this has been reflected in this year’s staff survey results.”

He said CSCI was introducing measures to improve consultation and communication with staff as a result.

2007 CSCI staff survey

  • 67% disagreed with the statement that CSCI valued its employees.
  • 34% believed CSCI could deliver what it had committed itself to.
  • 68% disagreed that change was well managed at CSCI.
  • 62% felt CSCI made a positive difference to service users.
  • 79% felt their line manager treated them with respect.

What do you think of the CSCI’s inspection system? Email Simeon Brody with your views.

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