In line with the Scottish Government led improvement plan, further scrutiny and assurance of adult support and protection is being undertaken across Scotland. This builds on the first joint inspection of adult support and protection, involving six adult protection partnerships, undertaken in 2017/18 and published July 2018. The initial inspection identified some good progress by partnerships and but also variations in how partnerships give effect to the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. The report from this inspection can be found here. The Scottish Government has requested further scrutiny across the remaining 26 partnership areas.

Scrutiny approach

A phased approach to scrutiny and assurance of adult support and protection has been developed. This is a five-year programme of activity currently planned over two phases, to be completed by 2024. Phase 1 of the programme is a two-year inspection programme, developed to provide baseline information across the 26 adult protection partnerships not previously inspected. This will be followed by second phase of scrutiny and/or improvement activity which will be informed by phase 1. The joint inspection approach based on the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) excellence model will be carried out under Section 115, Public Services Reform (Scotland), Act 2010. Scrutiny of the 26 partnership areas will be completed over a 24-month period. Each inspection footprint will last 18 weeks. Two multi-agency inspection teams will work concurrently to achieve this.

Scrutiny partners

The inspection programme will be led by Care Inspectorate in collaboration with Her Majesties’ Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS) and Healthcare improvement Scotland (HIS).  Each scrutiny agency has identified dedicated staff with appropriate levels of experience and expertise in adult support and protection.  This scrutiny and assurance will be undertaken in the context of health and social care integration.

Phase 1 inspection focus and activity

These inspections will focus on key processes and leadership (see our quality indicator framework). The key activities will include case file audit and a staff survey. The case file audits will review social work, police and health records. A bespoke adult support and protection staff survey will be issued to staff from social work, social care, health and police in each partnership area.

Purpose of activity

The purpose of this joint inspection is to seek assurance that adults at risk of harm in Scotland are supported and protected by existing national and local adult support and protection arrangements. The inspection programme is one element of an overall Scottish Government improvement plan.

Programme Update – January 2021

Throughout November and December 2020 the joint adult support and protection (ASP) inspection team, led by the Care Inspectorate in collaboration with HMICS and Healthcare improvement Scotland, engaged in consultation regarding the resumption of the ASP inspection programme.

The inspection programme started in February 2020 but had to be suspended shortly thereafter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, and in recognition of the demands on public services, the inspection team reviewed the programme to facilitate the restart of it and ensure limited impact on the partnerships, including the use of secure digital data sharing platforms to eliminate onsite activity.  The modifications were well received and groups across the sector were supportive of what was viewed to be a pragmatic and thoughtful approach to gaining assurance and scrutiny of this important area of public protection. The revised approach was perceived to capture the challenges that service areas have been dealing with since the onset of the pandemic, whilst recognising that inspection activity remains an essential part of providing public assurance.

Further consultation in early 2021, and in consideration of the recent sharp rise in COVID-19 infection, and impact of this, resulted in requests from across the sector to give consideration to delaying the resumption of the inspection programme.  

The ASP Multi-Agency Inspection Programme Partners Group, comprising representatives from the Care Inspectorate, HMICS and Healthcare improvement Scotland and Scottish Government, met on 7 January 2021 and agreed that the resumption of the inspection programme remains on hold for the time being.

The purpose of the inspection is to seek assurance that adults at risk of harm are supported and protected by existing national and local adult support and protection arrangements. Due to the critical nature of quality assuring that adults at risk of a harm in Scotland are safe and protected, the resumption of the inspection is a matter that will be continuously reviewed, and will be undertaken at the earliest appropriate time. 

The joint inspection bodies continue to monitor adult protection activity and concern through analysis of data and ongoing engagement with public protection partnerships. Like public protection partnerships, ASP remains a priority of the joint inspection bodies throughout this time.   

We will be in contact in due course when the resumption of the ASP inspection programme is confirmed. Meanwhile, the offer remains open for public protection partners to contact the joint inspection team to discuss (and practice access to) secure data sharing platforms.

For more information about this programme please see the adult support and protection FAQs.