Time well spent

The use of inspection volunteers to assist the Care Inspectorate in its investigation of complaints at care services is being welcomed by people using the services and their relatives, as well as by the care providers.

They have all appreciated the added value that inspection volunteers bring to the complaints investigation when they spend time listening to the views of service users, and also bring their own insights from having used care services themselves.

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 people and carers during inspections to ensure their views are reflected accurately. It’s a less formal approach to investigating a complaint but it can provide the inspectors with valuable feedback on where things need to improve, and provides a different perspective on the quality of the service.

Marie Paterson, Service Manager (Adults), who has gathered feedback from inspectors who have worked on complaints investigations with inspection volunteers, said: “Our inspectors have reported that having a volunteer increased the amount of people they could speak to and the observations they could carry out. This added value to the complaints process by increasing the amount of direct feedback from people and other information gathered about outcomes observed during their visit.”

Two large care homes have recently been subject to complaint investigations where inspection volunteers have worked with inspectors to review the situation. One complaint involved residents being asked to rise from their beds at a very early hour, which was not their choice.

The inspection volunteer arrived early with the inspector and spent time with residents, chatting to them about their views on getting up in the morning and observing interactions between residents
and staff.

Thanks to the work of the inspection volunteer, the inspector was able to get a wider range of views from the residents while they interviewed the night-shift staff before they left for the day, and then went on to check information with the records in the residents’ individual care plans.

In another complaint about lack of staff and poor support with nutrition, the inspection volunteer spent time observing care delivery at the home, particularly focusing on support over mealtimes, while the inspector investigated other aspects of the complaint. This, again, allowed for a wider range of observations to be made, and the relatives of people using the service spoke positively about the benefits of having people with
experience of receiving care involved in the complaints process.

Marie added, “In these cases, people using services, their relatives and providers indicated they valued input from someone with a perspective of having used care services. On each occasion, the inspection volunteer and the inspector said that this joint-working approach was a positive experience for them both and that the inspection volunteer was keen to continue to be involved supporting complaints work.”

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