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12th August 2016

New Inspection Methodology for Scotland

The Care Inspectorate systems are changing in several ways from this year. Inspecting care services in Scotland will have a new methodology, new and simpler reporting formats, and will be operating and regulating according to new forthcoming care standards.

New methodology

The Care Inspectorate is putting increasing emphasis on outcomes for service users in evaluating the quality of services. Providers must be able to show that they understand the views and feelings of people using their service. They must also show that they use this understanding in improving the quality of service provided. Essentially, people using services must be able to provide feedback and be sure that their voice is part of how the service is planned and run.

Where there are concerns about the quality of care provided, the Inspectorate wants to target its work to ensure that improvement occurs. At the same time, less input will be provided to services which are grading at good, or better. To enable this change of focus, higher performing services will be assessed on only two quality themes, one of which includes the quality of care.

Where services are not meeting the criteria for higher performance, all four quality themes will be inspected. These are:

  1. Quality of Care and Support
  2. Quality of Staff
  3. Quality of Environment (except where services are not provided from a premises)
  4. Quality of Management and Leadership

It is intended that these changes will allow inspectors to focus even more on the views of people using services, and to assess the overall outcomes of care and support for the individual.

Validation and follow up inspections will be used to monitor any changes in the performance status of inspected services.

Dementia services

One important exception is that arrangements will be different where a service is selected to be inspected under the new dementia focus areas.

New Reporting formats

Consultation has shown that the public found some inspection reports were difficult to read, lengthy and used technical and difficult to understand language. As a result, and to help better focussing and targeting of resources, three new types of inspection reports have been introduced. These are:

  • Themed inspection report - covering all four quality themes, giving grades for each and listing recommendations and requirements. Simpler information is presented, with an emphasis on what people who use the service have commented on, and on how their voice is heard.
  • Summary report - for better performing services. This is shorter and provides less information on the themes inspected, but allows greater emphasis on people views as expressed during the inspection.
  • Follow up inspection reports - gives a brief overview of the quality of the service, allowing monitoring of progress and confirmation of how better performing services are continuing to perform.

New National Care Standards

New National Care Standards are to be introduced from April 2017, and their content is shortly to undergo final consultation. Over-arching principles and implications for care and support have already been agreed. The principles are:

  • Dignity and respect
  • Compassion
  • Be included
  • Responsive care and support
  • Wellbeing

Each of these are broken down into implications, for example 'Be included' has its implications:

  • “I receive the right information, at the right time and in a way that I can understand.”
  • “I am supported to make informed choices, so that I can control my care and support.”
  • “I am included in wider decisions about the way the service is provided, and my suggestions, feedback and concerns are considered.”
  • “I am supported to participate fully and actively in my community.”

The new standards take a rights-based approach, and this has been formally agreed after wide consultation.


Overall, major changes are afoot in regulating care in Scotland. The wide involvement of service providers, and of people who use the services and their carers, promises an improved and continued user-friendly approach in inspection as well as in care provision.


*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Tony Clarke

Scottish Care Inspectorate Specialist

Tony began care work as a care assistant in care of the elderly here in Scotland in the 1970s. He very much enjoyed promoting activities, interests and good basic care. After a gap to gain a social work qualification, he worked in management of care services, latterly as a peripatetic manager which gave him experience of a wide range of services.

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