Inspection process must reflect new partnerships, says incoming director

The joint reviews process would be different if it was set up
today, the incoming director of joint reviews told Community
last week.

Sue Mead, who replaces John Bolton, said she had “absolute
confidence” that joint reviews had had a significant impact on
councillors, chief executives, and social services directors as
well as those who receive the services.

But she added: “I would say that, increasingly, social care is
being delivered in different ways in different partnerships, and
the interface with health service is very important.

“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 on line, the system will
need to be redesigned to look at how the new systems are

Mead admitted that councils did not always learn from other
councils’ joint review experiences and seemed to need the
“uncomfortable jolt” of their own investigation.

“Maybe councils could take lessons from other people’s
[experiences] so that there is not the need to repeat the same
things,” she said.

Mead has been part of the joint review team since 1997, holding a
number of roles including assistant director. Before joining the
team she was chief inspector of Birmingham’s social services`. She
qualified as a social worker in the late 1960s and worked in mental
health and children’s services.

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.

She said:”One of my prime objectives is to ensure councils in the
latter stages have as fair reviews as those at the beginning. I
want reviews to have as much impact and value to councils in the
improvement agenda as the first ones.”

Mead said the system of inspecting social services would change
significantly once the new Commission for Social Care Inspection
replaced the Social Services Inspectorate and the National Care
Standards Commission. But she emphasised that a type of joint
review process should continue to be “used proportionately as part
of a toolkit of products for inspection”.

Bolton is leaving to become director of social services and housing
at Coventry Council.

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