Aerial view of the Senedd building

Our work helps you make informed decisions

Briefing for new Assembly Members

One of the things those of who work in the world of external review frequently get asked is, ‘what do you do?’. We know what we do is important, makes a difference, and the evidence we provide helps change things for the better, but perhaps a short briefing paper would help those of us not quite so immersed in our world understand? We thought so.

This is particularly important for the new Assembly, with the elections held on 5 May, as many of the Assembly Members will be new, and may not be familiar with our work. And they will be making decisions about public services right from the start of their new roles. Solid evidence helps people make good decisions.

Hence we prepared a short briefing paper, Audit, Inspection and Regulation in Wales [PDF 216KB opens in new window]. It provides a summary of who we are and what we do.

We hope it will be helpful, and encourage people to use our work to inform themselves. After all, you need to know we exist and the types of reports we write before you make decisions on services.

Our Inspection Wales partners work will help you answer questions like:

  • Is my council, or hospital well run?
  • Are schools in Wales getting better?
  • How did that happen? E.g. Cardiff Airport, Welsh Drainage Board
  • What do they spend all that money on?
  • What are the big problems we face in Wales?
  • And detailed information on specific topics such as: Are Welsh Operating Theatres getting better?
  • Are services helping older people stay independent?

So, our various reports add to the sum total of knowledge against which you can make your own decisions about individual schools, care homes and wider public services.

This briefing paper sets the background to our work, and points to further resources. We hope everyone who reads it will find it helpful.

Silver whistle

Inspection Wales partners’ role in whistleblowing in Wales

Who should I blow the whistle to if I work in Wales?

One of the objectives of the Inspection Wales Programme is working together efficiently. A key way is to ‘share and learn’ about our internal approaches to a number of things we all do.

One example of this is whistleblowing: three of our four partners are ‘prescribed persons’ under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA ) [opens in new window], and all of us have people, whether employees of Welsh public bodies or members of the public, bringing us concerns. If the concerns are from members of workers, then they may (depending on what the concerns are) be classed as whistleblowing.

Whistleblowing is when a worker reports serious concerns about wrongdoing or malpractice in the workplace to someone.

All partners have mechanisms for dealing with concerns, and you can find them on our websites. But we realise it is not always easy to find who a potential whistleblower should contact in Wales. Hence our subtitle: who should I blow the whistle to if I work in Wales?

To help, we have prepared a short, simple guide to our respective responsibilities [opens in new window].

In a nutshell, if you have a concern about the NHS, Social Care, Education or value for money, fraud and corruption in relation to the provision of public services in Wales, this leaflet will help you decide which of our partners you should approach, and what you can expect to happen.

You can contact us even if you are not a worker and we will treat any such concerns seriously, but the specific protections under PIDA will not apply.

We cannot guarantee that we will keep your concern confidential or that we will investigate all concerns raised with us in detail, but we do take all approaches seriously and feed them into our collective intelligence to help us guide our work.

We hope this leaflet is helpful, and we intend it to supplement wider and more in-depth guidance on partners. More advice on our partners’ approaches:

There are also a number of external sources of advice, including the charity Public Concern at Work [Opens in new window].

Inspection Wales progress report cover on a white desk

Is joint working working? Collaboration between audit and inspection bodies in Wales … the story so far.

Four years ago, the heads of the 4 main audit and inspection bodies in Wales signed an agreement to formalise joint working between the bodies.

It was a logical move by the Wales Audit Office (led by the Auditor General for Wales), the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn) and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).

The agreement strengthened links between the 4 organisations and provided a solid foundation for better collaboration, knowledge sharing and business planning. The key objective? To improve outcomes for the people of Wales.

But have we achieved what we set out to achieve?

Well, when I took up my new role as Inspection Wales Programme Manager in February 2015, it was the first thing I wanted to find out.

So have we?

Yes, I believe we have. But, (until now) we haven’t told many people about it.

We’ve produced a report on our progress so far, which provides some detailed findings if you’re interested in reading more. But, I will summarise here.

Relationships

They’re hard to measure, but I can testify that relationships between our four organisations are strong and exist at many levels across the businesses. There needs to be a level of trust to work together outside organisational comfort zones, and we do have this. I’m not saying that everything is perfect, and in some areas these relationships are still developing, but we have strong foundations in place.

Building blocks

We needed to agree how we do things together. That was not as easy as it could be because we all work to different laws and reporting arrangements. We’ve already published our remit paper, which explains all this in detail. Hence, we needed to work through basic processes like sharing information, and how we handle serious concerns about an organisation.

Joint working

We have done a lot of things together, but, we haven’t always told everyone that we did it together! Our stocktake report contains many examples, and some of these will be familiar pieces of work to you, but you might not have known they were joint.

We know we need to get better at sharing and our joint working achievements. That’s partly why we’ve set up this blog site. I’ll be writing more posts in the coming weeks and months, but you will also find posts from other people who are equally passionate about working together.

We look forward to sharing more with you about our audit and inspection missions to let the people in Wales know whether they are getting what they need and deserve.

About the author

Mandy Townsend on holiday sat in a boat

Mandy Townsend started work as the Inspection Wales Programme Manager in February 2015 and is seconded to the part-time role for two years.

Mandy, who is based in North Wales, spends the rest of her week in her original role as a Health Performance Auditor at the Wales Audit Office.

Macbook displaying the information sharing guidance

To share or not to share? How we’re using our collective knowledge for effective collaboration

One of the key building blocks of collaboration between the Inspection Wales partners’ is the sharing of information. And, tapping into the collective knowledge and expertise of our organisations has already started to improve the strength and scope of our work.

Our most recent report on regional education consortia in Wales is a great example of this. As detailed by Estyn’s Mark Campion in a previous post, the sharing of our collective data and research was a great way for us to add value.

By establishing a framework that allows us to share information before we started this joint piece of work, we were able to work together to reap the benefits and produce two reports, for Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales, without wasting resources and duplicating effort.

It is, however, important that we get it right when it comes to sensitive information and over the last few years we’ve operated a working group across our partners to make sure that what we do share is appropriate and proportionate.

This group explored:

  • what information we all had
  • how we store it
  • what we should share, and
  • explored how we should do this safely and legally.

You can imagine, given the breadth and depth of partner responsibilities, how complex this is. Ultimately, what our staff needed was a framework to share information, and perhaps most importantly, permission from the Heads – the Auditor General for Wales, the Chief Inspector of Care and Social Services, the Chief Inspector of Estyn and the Chief Executive of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales – to do so when our work requires it.

Sharing information is vital for the success of any collaboration and having the framework in place means that we don’t get caught in the trap of hoarding expertise. It also means we can work together towards our shared goal – to support better outcomes for the people of Wales.

Read our overview to find out how we share information.

About the author

Mandy Townsend on holiday sat in a boatMandy Townsend started work as the Inspection Wales Programme Manager in February 2015 and is seconded to the part-time role for two years.

Mandy, who is based in North Wales, spends the rest of her week in her original role as a Health Performance Auditor at the Wales Audit Office.

Why worry about collaboration?

Ruth StudleyOur guest blogger, Ruth Studley, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, explains the importance of collaboration. 

You may ask why should we worry about collaboration? In the current times of wanting to increase our impact with often reducing resources, collaboration is vital.

We all need to know what we are doing and why. We need to know how our personal role fits into that of our organisation goals.

In the public sector we need to go a step further and consider how our personal and organisational roles fit into the broader goal of wanting to create a positive impact on the population. We can do this on our own but we have a greater impact if we do this with others. Do you agree?

Why don’t we collaborate more – do we all understand what collaboration means?

The Oxford University Press states that collaboration is ‘the action of working with someone to produce something‘.

I believe effective collaboration is more than this. It is more than a joint goal with agreed milestones and deliverables. It is enhanced by trust and respect, openness, honesty and transparency about conflicting views and opinions, working through difficult problems to achieve a consensus, an aims that suits everyone.

 How do we collaborate more – have you considered what collaboration looks like in your environment?

Collaboration is the driving force behind Inspection Wales. But what does that mean? How does it feel?

From a personal perspective, it is about trust, mutual respect, openness, honesty and reliability. Interestingly, this can be summarised mathematically:

trust-equation-image-english

Lets first consider those aspects of trust that have a positive impact on collaboration.

Credibility – Do you say what you know and is it right?
Reliability – Do you do what you said you were going to do?
Intimacy – Do you know your colleagues, staff, managers? Do you you value them and inspire them? Do your respect their values?

Like any mathematician, I know the power of the denominator! The reciprocal has the ability to undermine the numerator. Here it can do immense damage to the trust and rapport we build. In this example, we need to be aware of the trait of the self interest.

Are you making decisions or behaving in a particular way for your own benefit without consideration of the impact on others? Is it all about your brand? Your goal?

Inspection Wales is based on many of these principles. For example, the recent publication of the information sharing principles places a huge amount of trust in other organisations to use that intelligence appropriately and keep it safe. In many areas we identify our joint or overlapping goals and focus on delivering these together to achieve better outcomes for people.

Indeed, we could use the power of the reciprocal here and say – why would you not collaborate? Resistance rather than trust can develop by focussing on our self interests and those of our own organisations, but these will eventually be broken down by those who are credible and reliable and open and want to work together to achieve greater outcomes.

I’ll end with a quote from Helen Keller:

“Alone we do so little; together we can do so much”

 Ruth Studley is the Director of Strategy and Development at Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) Before joining HIW Ruth was the Head of Health Statistics at StatsWale

Views on report into independence of older people in Wales

The Auditor General for Wales, this week, released a report ‘Supporting the Independence of Older People: Are Councils Doing Enough?

The report examines whether councils are working effectively to support the independence of older people. While the Welsh public sector recognises the challenges of an ageing population, the report found that some key barriers are inhibiting the shift in focus that is needed to reduce demand for health and social care services and support older people to live independently.

This study was conducted by the Wales Audit Office and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate, who are part of Inspection Wales, along with the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.

In this series of videos, the Auditor General for Wales, the Chief Inspector of Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales and the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales answer the following questions on the report:
Clearly there are financial challenges to delivering these services, what can local government do to ensure that services are available for those who need it most?

Given the findings of today’s report what recommendations would you make to both councils and Welsh Government to help improve the services they offer to older people in Wales?

Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales

Imelda Richardson, Chief Inspector of Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales

Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales

If you would like to view a copy of the report you can do so via the Wales Audit Office website

Collaboration in action

A joint report on the independence of older people released today provides a great example of how the Inspection Wales Programme is developing approaches to collaborative working.

This study was conducted by the Wales Audit Office and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate, who are part of Inspection Wales, along with the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.

In this blog post, representatives from all three organisations outline the advantages of working together on this report and how collaboration is helping them deliver better outcomes.  

Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales

HVt generic twitter

Working together. Everyone talks about it and the benefits it brings. You know the picture. Better use of resources, wider knowledge to draw on, specialist expertise, greater experience to broaden understanding and practically, more hands make light work of the difficult task. As an idea it is difficult to argue against but can still be very difficult to do. Different working styles, different expectations and different objectives all have to be balanced if it is to be successful. It also helps if you get on and like each other.

Thinking of the pluses and minuses of working together, I am pleased to say that the Wales Audit Office study on the independence of older people, which was published on October 15th 2015, is built on an effective working together experience. Colleagues in the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales and the Office of the Older Peoples Commissioner in Wales positively assisted the Auditor General to deliver this study.

The support provided, advice given, help in shaping the methodology, delivering fieldwork, distributing surveys, promoting the work and reviewing findings has led to a comprehensive review which produced a detailed picture of how councils support the independence of older people.

Without the enthusiasm and willingness of CSSIW and the Commissioner to support this work the study would not have been as a comprehensive in its coverage or made the impact it has. One thing is for sure, the benefits of joint working is plain for all to see and is something we need to continue to build on and is something we can and need to do more of.
Imelda Richardson, Chief Inspector of Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales

Imelda Richardson image for twitter and facebook

We work closely with Wales’ other inspectorates and we’re proud to champion a joint working approach, as demonstrated by working with Estyn to create a joint inspection framework for early years services. We have a number of agreements in place on how we work with other regulators, inspectorates, and local authorities involved in improving the quality of social care and social services in Wales.

For this report we were able to share knowledge from our inspection activity in all 22 Welsh local authorities, and collaborate with partners to better focus on the wellbeing of our older population. We were happy to play a supporting role for this report and share our knowledge and experience about the needs of older people.

Our work is an important part of Wales’ social care sector, and joint working allows us to be a stronger voice for improving care for people in Wales than if we operated in isolation.

Taking on board ideas around best practice and taking a cross-cutting view across social care allows us to improve our own practice and share ideas more widely across other organisations, and can only have a positive impact on the people of Wales who rely on or help support social care in this country.

I look forward to further collaborative work with partner organisations in the coming years.

Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales

Sarah Rochira

As Older People’s Commissioner, I have welcomed the opportunity to work with the Wales Audit Office (WAO) and other partners to produce this report. The report follows on from my participation in the WAO Shared Learning Seminars in July 2015, and I am pleased that this work has strengthened links with the Auditor General and colleagues. Collaboration across the public sector in Wales is needed more than ever, and I am pleased that the WAO and others reinforce my key statements and recognise the importance of maintaining the independence of older people.

Given the challenging financial outlook, service providers in Wales must now work together to provide high-quality services that reflect the needs of older people. Older people’s needs are not confined to health and social care services, and providers based in transport, education, housing and leisure sectors, for example, must deliver cost-effective services that help to maintain the independence of older people.

A collaborative, joined-up and long-term approach, based on the integration and prevention agendas, is now urgently required to remove key barriers and maintain the health and wellbeing of older people. Joint working is crucial in addressing both the national wellbeing goals within the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and also the aims within the Ageing Well in Wales Programme.

I look forward to working further with the WAO and other partners to make clear the importance of taking a preventative approach and to ensure that public service providers can better utilise older people’s wealth of knowledge and experience, increase their contribution to communities across Wales and help older people across Wales to maintain their health and independence.

If you would like to find out more about the report ‘Supporting the Independence of Older People: Are Councils Doing Enough?’ the report can be downloaded from the Wales Audit Office website.

Two (Heads) are better than one

Wales Audit Office

Here, our guest blogger Mark Campion, HMI Estyn, explains how Estyn and the Auditor General for Wales together examined school improvement services delivered through regional consortia in Wales and the benefits gained from working in collaboration.  

With a common interest in how the four regional education consortia were developing, Estyn inspectors and Wales Audit Office staff worked together to share hypotheses, draw on each others’ expertise, and work more efficiently by pooling resources.

How did Estyn and the Wales Audit Office work together on this report? Video transcription

We planned our fieldwork visits together, spending four days as a combined team in each of the four regions.  While each organisation had particular areas of interest, we were mutually concerned about the leadership and management of the consortia.  We therefore held joint interviews with senior staff and elected members during the visits.  During the week we held joint team meetings…

View original post 281 more words

The power of working together: Why audit and inspection bodies in Wales need to connect more

Mandy Townsend

Hi. I’m Mandy Townsend and I’ve got an exciting new job I want to tell you about.

Working as the new Inspection Wales Programme Manager doesn’t sound very stimulating does it? But, believe me, it’s a really great role which is designed to help people in Wales.

How do I do that?

I bring together the main bodies in Wales that exist to help make sure public services are delivering what they should be. I help them work together, share information and coordinate their work as efficiently and effectively as possible. This work is called the ‘Inspection Wales Programme.’

The 4 audit and inspection bodies I’m talking about are the Wales Audit Office (led by the Auditor General for Wales), the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), Estyn (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales) and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).

Most of our work is very separate because each body has different purposes and different laws which govern what they have to do. But some of our work can have a common focus. For instance, we all have a role to play in checking particular public services; and there are other areas where 2 or 3 of us share responsibility in various combinations for scrutinising aspects of services.

While we know how our work relates to each other, most people don’t. So, we’ve written a short paper to explain it.

Personally, I like this visual summary:

Graphic showing the 4 inspection bodies linked together

You can see the linkages between the work of the 4 audit and inspection bodies and it means that joint working helps us all be more efficient.

Why?

There are many reasons for this – avoiding duplication of effort is one of them. It’s not just public bodies that don’t want us examining the same thing twice, importantly we don’t want to either, it is a waste of our time and energy. We could be using our limited resources to do something else.

But, the main reason, for me at least, is that when we work together we are more powerful. If we all contribute to the same thing and report (good or bad) on it, people take notice, and things change.

That’s why we want to work together as well as we can. After all, the reason we all come to work is to improve services for the people of Wales – to make things better.  If the Inspection Wales Programme can help our partners do this more efficiently, then it’s a success.

And that is why my job is exciting.

About the Author:
Mandy Townsend on holiday sat in a boatMandy Townsend started work as the Inspection Wales Programme Manager in February 2015 and is seconded to the part-time role for two years.
Mandy, who is based in North Wales, spends the rest of her week in her original role as a Health Performance Auditor at the Wales Audit Office.