A valuable insight

Inspection volunteers are bringing a new perspective to care by working with Complaints team specialists

Inspection volunteers, like Heather Blair (left), are playing an increasing role in the Care Inspectorate’s work

Inspection volunteers, like Heather Blair
(left), are playing an increasing role
in the Care Inspectorate’s work

The Care Inspectorate’s Complaints team is being boosted by a number of inspection volunteers who will accompany the regulator’s full-time inspectors on visits to services that are the subject of a complaint. This will help provide valuable insight into the general quality of care provided by the service.

Inspection volunteers are members of the public who use a care service, have used a service in the past, or care for someone like a family member or friend who has used a care service. They work closely with the Care Inspectorate’s teams of specialist inspectors and spend time with service users and carers during inspections to ensure their views are reflected accurately. This helps the inspectors identify where things need to improve, help to keep people safe and ensure that the rights of people receiving care are respected and their needs met.

The Care Inspectorate has about 70 inspection volunteers and has now trained a team of eight to help the Complaints team in its investigations.

The Complaints team is made up of about 40 inspectors across Scotland who are experienced in investigating a wide range of complaints brought against care services.

Gillian Anderson, Team Manager, explained the process: “After we’ve spoken to the complainant to clarify the nature of the complaint and to make sure it is within our remit, we will in most cases visit the relevant care service to investigate.

“Each year we carry out around 2,000 visits to services to investigate complaints to check on allegations. Where there are issues that are specific to one service user, we will continue to use our specialist complaints inspectors, but where complaints are of a more general nature we will also involve inspection volunteers.

“This will be particularly useful for complaints that are about general issues such as the mealtime experiences or meaningful activities and the general care and support of people by staff.”

While the inspectors will focus on the inputs of care, such as speaking to service managers and staff, review individual care plans and the service’s policies and procedures, the inspection volunteers will spend time getting the views of people that use the service.

Gillian added: “The training we give our inspection volunteers helps them draw out the views and impressions, both of people using the service and their carers and relatives.

“And, as our inspection volunteers have experience of using care services themselves, it means that they can empathise with the people they are talking to.

“It’s a less formal approach to investigating the complaint but it can provide the inspectors with valuable feedback and give a different perspective on the quality of the service provided.”

Charlene Guild, Senior Involvement & Equalities Adviser, said: “Our inspection volunteers will essentially be fulfilling the same role they play in a normal inspection but will be more focused on the main aspects of the complaint.

“We have eight inspection volunteers that have undergone additional training in investigating complaints and they have a wide range of experience in specialist areas that will be of great help to our complaints team and its investigations.”