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The challenges of running a joint review…

One of the inspections I’m working on at the moment is around mental health. It’s a joint project between the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), who I work for, and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).

We’re looking into how Community Health Teams provide care, support and treatment to adults with mental health problems. As part of this review, we’re carrying out inspection visits at one Community Mental Health Team in each of the 7 health board areas in Wales. We’re carrying out interviews with senior officers at health boards and local authorities. And, we’re also consulting a wide range of stakeholders, including service users and their carers/families to hear their views about the services they receive.

If you’re interested, you can also get involved with the review (opens in new window).

So far, we’ve scoped, planned and completed four inspections visits and our joint working has been fairly harmonious so far, albeit challenging at times.

Our Inspection methodology consists of a blend of HIW and CSSIW routine methods. We’ve faced some challenges – such as whether to conduct announced or unannounced visits; reaching agreement on the use of language, i.e. “patient” versus “service user”; and how to capture evidence from inspections.

However, we’ve achieved an approach, including the design and production of assessment tools, which enable us to make a holistic evaluation of the quality of care, support and treatment, as well as its compliance with both mental health and social care legislation.

Inspection teams are led by HIW and comprise an equal number of HIW and CSSIW reviewers. This has created some challenges and highlighted differences in the way we work. For example, home visits to service users/carers versus office visits; the way we manage immediate concerns; and the level of detail included in preliminary verbal feedback.

However, we have agreed a joint approach and created mixed inspection teams. This has helped to achieve a good balance of evidence, through lively debate about the cases reviewed and the staff, service users and carers we’ve interviewed.  There is also the very positive spin-off that professionally we have learned a great deal from each other.

Although early days – we haven’t fully completed an inspection report yet – from my personal experience of participating in two of the inspection visits, I think, our joint approach is already producing an overarching evaluation of services that is “greater than the sum of its parts”. I am very confident that this will eventually be reflected in our overarching joint national report to be published next year.

About the author

Bobbi JonesBobbie Jones has worked as a local authority inspector for CSSIW since 2013. Prior to this, Bobbie worked as an inspector for HMI Probation after having spent a career of over 20 years in the National Probation Service.

Bobbie qualified as social worker in 1991 and has subsequently completed a Masters degree at Cambridge University in Criminology, Penology & Management.

Bobbie enjoys gardening, relaxing with a good book and playing with her grandchildren.

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