Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) aims to make care and support in Wales better. Its role is to ensure that people who use regulated services remain safe and that the quality of services continues to improve by ensuring effective registration, inspection and enforcement activity to the benefit of the people of Wales. CSSIW also provides professional advice to Ministers and policy makers.
This case study looks at the work undertaken by CSSIW to involve service users, staff and stakeholders in the development of Care and Social Service Inspectorate Wales’ Chief Inspectors Annual Report for 2009-10.
The process of compiling this report was at a time when CSSIW was looking to improve the ways in which it engages with the citizen and demonstrates its commitment to put them at the heart of its work. It was at this time that it engaged with Participation Cymru to work together to undertake the initial engagement activity.
CSSIW’s brief to Participation Cymru was to work in partnership to engage with service users, carers and families to influence the direction of travel. It also wanted to increase the voice of service users and carers at all levels whilst continuing to keep people safe through its work registering services, inspection, tackling poor performance and driving of improvement.
As a regulator CSSIW identified the need to engage with people so that it could provide better information about the impact of regulated services on their lives. It was envisaged that this would enable the inspectorate to work with people to deliver positive change by being able to rely on the evidence secured from the views and experiences of service user and other stakeholders. Overall CSSIW remains concerned to raise awareness of its important work and it is also keen to break down any perceived barriers that may exist regarding communication between the organisation, people who live in local communities and other stakeholders.
Overall the commitment of CSSIW is to place people at the centre of everything it does so that there is an understanding that the individual is the expert when it comes to identifying and addressing their own needs. This has the potential to shift power to people, so they are in control of their own health and social care needs with the opportunity for them to have ownership of what happens in their lives.
Where to begin?
The first step that was taken was to identify stakeholders to engage with, and opportunities where CSSIW could engage with them. Participation Cymru worked with CSSIW to conduct a stakeholder analysis. From that analysis it was decided that CSSIW would work with six key stakeholder groups in this first phase of their engagement programme. Five categories of service user were identified:
• mental health
• learning disabilities (adult)
• older people
• children and young people and
An additional group was allocated for service providers.
At this point it was decided that the best ways to engage with service users and service providers would be through focus groups, one to one interviews and questionnaires. The work would take place in six regional areas across Wales to ensure geographical spread and to cover the main areas of social services and social care work in Wales.
The preferred option was to work with existing groups who meet regularly and who would be willing for the focus groups to take place at one of their regular sessions. This would ensure that sessions took place in familiar, comfortable environments and that engagement would not be an additional burden on participants. On average each focus group lasted ninety minutes and the pace of the group was determined by the service users. In that session a member of CSSIW would provide an overview of no longer than fifteen minutes.
Participation Cymru then facilitated the session and provided service users with pre-determined questions to stimulate discussion. The majority of sessions were split into small groups comprising of a few service users, their carers and either a member of CSSIW or Participation Cymru. It was evidenced that this worked well as the service users felt relaxed in the company of a smaller group with the carer present for support and guidance. The feedback was recorded by either CSSIW or Participation Cymru. The discussions were lively and the service users were clearly appreciative of the opportunity to share their experiences.
The feedback from the focus groups as a whole was then gathered by Participation Cymru staff and collated. This was fed into the report, which was published online and circulated to those that took part.
What has been achieved?
The empowering nature and the transparent process of involving service users and stakeholders in the production of the annual report has resulted in CSSIW increasing its external credibility. CSSIW has also secured increased public assurance by focussing on what people tell them and taking action where appropriate.
This process has also provided CSSIW with quality information about the impact or not that care and social services agencies make on people’s lives and that will help to build on a continuous improvement agenda. Additionally, it has provided an opportunity to further develop existing relationships with services users and stakeholders to facilitate an increased networking pool for future engagement activities.
The format of the annual report has been amended and is more user-friendly. The feedback has resulted in a change in future learning development and a robust programme of modernisation throughout CSSIW.
CSSIW welcomed independent facilitation of the focus groups and hence engaged Participation Cymru to undertake that role. It was agreed from the outset that Participation Cymru and CSSIW would work in tandem to combine staff areas of expertise for the benefit of those participants attending the focus groups. CSSIW staff attended the majority of focus groups to offer specialist insight into their work.
This was a new way of working for everyone; all of whom have recognised the benefits of optimising opportunities for gaining feedback directly from service users to improve their experiences of social care and social services. As a result, the culture both internal and external to CSSIW is positively changing and it is hoped to continue this programme of engagement to facilitate new and different ways of securing feedback from all sections of the community.
Another challenge that Participation Cymru and CSSIW successfully overcame was the scheduling of the focus groups and matching of staff within a short time-span.
Plans for the future
Following the success of the project CSSIW has continued to develop a draft Engagement Strategy based upon the ideas and views of service users and other stakeholders. A six month consultation on this strategy ended on 4 January 2012. A wide range of public and staff responses were gathered through an online survey and through other participative methods.
CSSIW will also conduct follow up focus groups from the initial work to examine whether service users’ and stakeholders’ experiences have changed over the course of the last year. It will also look to follow up other suggestions made at the focus groups, including a DVD for service users, by service users and local reference groups.
The Chief Inspector now has a monthly engagement schedule with service users and discussions have been held with Wrexham Carers Service, Age Cymru and ABCD Cymru.
CSSIW’s Management Board has agreed quarterly engagement sessions across the regions and has already met with Torfaen Council ‘Have Your Say’ group.
A quarterly stakeholder newsletter is now produced and as soon as key reports are published, all stakeholders are informed by e-alert.
This is part of a three year strategic engagement and improvement plan for CSSIW, through which it aims to achieve long lasting cultural change.
Further information on CSSIW is available from www.cssiw.org.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to discuss how Participation Cymru could assist with practical engagement work that your organisation is undertaking, please email email@example.com.