It was clear from Professor Crerar’s report, “The Report of the Independent Review of Regulation, Audit, Inspection and Complaints Handling of Public Services in Scotland” in September 2007 that many organisations in Scotland are frustrated by the number of inspection and regulatory bodies they have to deal with and give information to. These bodies include the Scottish Government, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education, the Social Work Inspection Agency, Mental Welfare Commission and local authorities amongst many others. The Care Commission is working together with these and other public bodies to try and reduce duplication of the information we ask for. There are ways that providers and managers of services can help reduce this duplication as well.

None of these bodies wants to collect information that another body has already collected. They agreed this some time ago and over the last two to three years have identified many items of information that can be gained from a single source. One of the main sources of information about care services in Scotland is the annual return that the Care Commission asks care service providers to complete each year. These annual returns inform our work through our risk assessment process ensuring a proportionate and targeted approach to our regulation. The returns also ensure that information on the web-based register of services is up to date and accurate, and help to create national pictures of care services to inform and influence the national policy agenda. The annual return also offers a major opportunity for information sharing and the reduction of duplication across public bodies in Scotland.

Some of the work the Care Commission have done, or are currently doing, with other bodies includes:

  •  continuing to work to reduce duplication between the annual return and the Scottish government’s childminding and daycare of children surveys (in 2005 the Scottish Government reduced its census for care homes as the information it needed was already collected by the Care Commission);
  •  working with COSLA to ensure that local authorities can meet their obligations for the quality of the services they buy without duplicating elements of the inspections done by the Care Commission;
  •  ensuring that other scrutiny bodies such as Audit Scotland, the Scottish Housing Regulator and SWIA have information that will help their inspection programmes;
  •  developing a data store of information on registered care services that since 2007 has allowed password protected access by public bodies including local authorities whom it supports in their role as care managers and commissioners of care services;
  •  providing workforce information to the Scottish Social Services Council and the Scottish Government’s Workforce Development Group. This allows these bodies to support local workforce planning and to plan for the future of care services in Scotland through staff training and registration programmes.

Non-submissions of annual returns

Over the last two years only 75% of annual returns have been submitted. This is far less than some of the Scottish Government surveys and censuses and means that the Care Commission’s data is not always complete. If the Care Commission doesn’t have the information to share with its colleague public bodies, then these bodies may have to ask for it again… and you can see where this leads!

If we are serious about reducing duplication, we all need to support those bodies trying to achieve the reduction. The Care Commission will look at how it responds in cases where service providers don’t give the information that’s needed to regulate effectively and efficiently. However, we are hoping we can persuade care service providers to return information because if we don’t have it, we can’t use it and share it and thereby reduce duplication.