Behind the headlines

A public opinion poll carried out by Mori showed that there is
widespread support for more inspections for public services. But
critics have warned that the suggested monthly visits could get in
the way of staff trying to do their job. The survey was
commissioned by the new organisation the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, which replaces the Social Services Inspectorate and the
National Care Standards Commission. Julia Ross, social services
director, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

“Spot inspections of direct care services are a good idea, but not
to replace regular planned in-depth ones. We may become too
dependent on external inspections to tell us about the quality of
our services. Meanwhile, I’m delighted more people want to exercise
choice and buy their own care, and I believe many more would do so
if we made it easier. As for the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, I welcome it and hope it can influence a stronger
whole-systems approach to integrated services across all adult and
children’s services.”

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“Let us hope public confidence in the new unified inspection body
will be gained quickly – consumers will rightly, demand excellence.
But we must explain that monthly inspection reports would just clog
up the system. What service providers want from the CSCI is
consistent inspection standards and speedy delivery of reports –
quality works both ways.”

Bob Hudson, professor of partnership studies, Health
Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham

“Monthly inspections would be a nightmare – at some point we need
to trust people to get on with the job. What is important for the
future is the style of inspection that predominates. It is
interesting that the judgements of Ofsted and the Commission for
Health Improvement have frequently been challenged by those
inspected, whereas those of the SSI have not. The SSI has done well
to build up a user-focused methodology that allies inspection to
support, and it is to be hoped that the CSCI resists the
alternative ‘in and out’ method favoured by others.”

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth

“One councillor has said, of his authority’s 1,050 performance
indicators set by government, that only 25 are any use. There are
three key questions. Is there evidence of listening to the service
user? Is there evidence of planning in response? What’s changed as
a result? To find the answers, Lord Ouseley reminds us, you have to
involve the intended beneficiaries.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and

“The measure of inspections should not be how often they occur, but
what they achieve. In the past, we have seen tick-box approaches
that have monitored process rather than outcomes, and I hope the
objective of the new regime will be service users’ experience and
quality of life. The take-up of direct payments has been
disappointing – in part owing to reluctance by some councils to
enable them. There is also the complexity of managing your own care
when you are frail or vulnerable. To facilitate this, the
government should increase its support to organisations that assist
people to access direct payments.”

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