Office workers sat around a desk with a laptop

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.

A teacher in a school

Inspection Wales Programme makes good progress

It’s sometimes said that external reviewers are like buses; they all turn up at the same time. And the challenge to the Inspection Wales partners, as the four principal external review bodies in Wales, is to demonstrably work together effectively to plan and deliver our work.  Such collaboration is essential to make the most of our respective, limited, resources, and to add most value to public bodies being reviewed and the people of Wales.

Front cover of the stocktake paperWe’ve now published a review of the progress [opens in new window] we’ve made in delivering our programme, an initiative to improve cooperation and collaboration between the four external review bodies in Wales.

The examples and case studies described within the paper demonstrate the extent to which the four review bodies are already planning and delivering work jointly, and show how, to again paraphrase another commonly used phrase, four heads are better than one.

The paper identifies long standing arrangements for collaboration, such as healthcare summits and quarterly meetings between the Heads of Inspection. It also outlines a recent new initiative from Estyn [opens in new window] and refinements to existing practices by CSSIW [opens in new window] which further demonstrate the commitment to information sharing by Inspection Wales partners. It provides details of joint working, particularly, but not exclusively, in the areas of education and health. For example, joint reviews by Estyn and the Wales Audit Office [opens in new window] of the four regional consortia for education improvement and joint reviews by HIW [opens in new window] and CSSIW of learning disabilities and Deprivation of Liberty safeguards.

Next steps for Inspection Wales

Over the next 18 months, Inspection Wales will further progress its first joint national thematic review on the topic of services for young people. Working across their respective remits in this way will enable Inspection Wales partners to take a more comprehensive look at the services provided to young people by different public bodies and report more holistically on young people’s experiences of services.

There will be a further blog in the near future about the joint work Inspection Wales partners are doing on youth services in Wales. There will also be a further blog about the forthcoming joint HIW and Wales Audit Office review of governance at Betsi Cadwalder University Health Board.

Inspection Wales partners will also continue to engage with the Welsh Government as it develops its plans for local government reform, as set out in the January 2017 White Paper on local government reform.

About the author

Emma Giles, Inspection Wales Programme Board ManagerDr Emma Giles took over as Inspection Wales Programme Manager in March 2017. Prior to this, Emma was a performance audit lead with the Wales Audit Office.
Emma is an outdoor enthusiast who likes mountain biking and walking.

Her PhD in Criminology looked at how offenders and criminal justice staff understood fairness, and what these differing perceptions of fairness meant for relationships between staff and offenders.

 

 

People walking past marquee's at the Royal Welsh Show

Find out more about Inspection Wales at the Royal Welsh Show

Livestock, farming and forestry aren’t usually part of the work of the Inspection Wales programme. But we’re excited to announce that Inspection Wales will be out in force at this year’s Royal Welsh Show [opens in new window] in Builth Wells, 18-21 July.

Exhibiting together for the first time since the show’s inception, inspectors and corporate staff from Healthcare Inspectorate Wales [opens in new window] (HIW), Estyn [opens in new window], Wales Audit Office [opens in new window] and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales [opens in new window] (CSSIW) will be talking to visitors about the work they do both individually and together to help public services in Wales improve.

Together, we’ll be asking people how much they know about our work and gathering feedback to help inform our future communication. There’ll also be lots to see and do on our stand. We’ll be showcasing some of our joint working through case studies, displaying our latest projects and there’ll even be a small area for children.

The Estyn team are looking forward to meeting parents, teachers and learners who may be interested to hear about the way inspections of schools and other education and training providers are changing from September 2017.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales are attending the show for the first time this year and will be raising awareness of the work within the inspectorate and seeking views on people’s experiences of healthcare services. They launched their new website last month and the team are looking forward to meeting visitors and asking for their views.

At the CSSIW stand, people will be invited to meet with inspectors and find out how to get involved in the inspectorate’s work.  Visitors can also learn more about inspection, registration, enforcement and seek advice on choosing care services.

The Wales Audit Office are returning for their second year and looking forward to having conversations with the public about the valuable role they play in holding public services to account and supporting improvement.

So, whether you’re visiting the show with family, friends or colleagues, come and meet the friendly staff at the Inspection Wales stand and learn more about our work.

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.

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

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.