Scotland’s oversight visits are impacting staff morale, survey finds

The negative impact of oversight visits on staff morale has been captured in a new survey from Scottish Care.

In the survey of 152 care home providers, almost one in four (23.3 per cent) were critical of oversight visits, citing their negative effect on staff. Providers also criticised the Scottish regulator for not adequately distinguishing between regulation and oversight. Some 58 per cent of respondents described oversight visits as supportive or collaborative.

The findings are published in a report ‘The Ingredients for Growth’, which tackles issues such as regulation, experience of inspection, agency involvement, and experience of reporting and data collection.

Overall experience with regulation mostly ranged from ‘adequate’ (17.5 per cent) to ‘good’ (35.7 per cent) to ‘very good’ (22.2 per cent) in the report.

When asked about inspection, 74 percent of respondents report they now have a different inspector to before the pandemic. Comments stated mixed experience with this – some inspectors are supportive while others are not. The more meaningful relationships tend to be with those who have had the same inspector, indicating that continuity of a relationship is linked to better relationships.

Commenting on the findings, Scottish Care says: “For many, it has felt like the oversight arrangements introduced in May 2020 have created confusion in the landscape.”

Key themes running throughout the report are the need for clarity in the role and function of all parts of the system, greater understanding of the context within which the care sector is providing support and better partnership working and consistency which includes recognition of sector expertise. Providers have commented on increasingly clinicalised approaches which disregard the distinctive role and purpose of social care; inconsistencies in grading; and a lack of objectivity and consideration given to the effects of the pandemic on the sector.

In light of the findings, Scottish Care has called for a review of the purpose and function of regulation and oversight arrangements. It says: “It should be recognised that oversight arrangements were introduced at a point of crisis in pandemic response. Now 20 months on, it is time to review whether they are meeting their purpose, and if that original purpose still exists.”

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