On the 24th April 2012 I was invited to attend the final award presentation for the Regulation of Care Award (Scotland). As the course director for 7 years it was sad to see the course come to an end, however, all inspectors in the Care Inspectorate Scotland had been through the course and the evaluations had been overwhelmingly positive. Photo shows Angela Whyte, a leading member of the Involving People Group with Nicola Sturgeon Deputy First Minister, Scottish Government, at the ceremony.
I must say thanks to all the students who went through the course and to Joe, Al, Lorna, Linda, Rosemary, Penny and Elaine for all the enjoyable and creative times we had together. a special thanks for the lovely meal at the DCA in Dundee – and of course for the special gifts which will stay with me always. You can read more about the Awards Ceremony here and a pdf of Care Inspectorate news is available by clicking on this link Care_News_Summer_2012. Below is the speech.[two_third last=”yes”][separator top=”40″ style=”single”]Thank you for inviting me to be with you today and for the opportunity to say a few words. It is a pleasure to congratulate our students on their success. One of the oddities of being a distance learning tutor is that you learn the names and not the faces and I hope today that I can start to match a few faces with the names.
It was gratifying to hear from the minister the plans for the future of ROCA, hopefully that future development can build on the work that we have all achieved in the past 7 years.
But, what was that achievement? What was it that ROCA did and what does that tell us about learning, and life long learning, for regulators and inspectors.
At present Joe Mcghee and the ROCA team are conducting an evaluation of ROCA to tease out what various stakeholders have gained from ROCa, including service users. For my part, in the summer of last year I interviewed about 25 members of the care inspectorate for their view of the practice learning aspect of ROCA, we have to remember that ROCA is at least 50% a practice qualification. I also wanted to look at the links that ROCA had made between theories and practice and how inspectors organised their learning after ROCA.
I want today to draw on some of that research and present my view of the achievements of ROCA.
A word frequently used about ROCA is the notion of ROCASpeak. This is reference to the arcane language only known to ROCA graduates but the object of some interest or irritation to those who hadn’t yet done the course. RocaSpeak often centred on concepts that students found useful in describing and understanding their regulatory work. An early example was the notion of triangulation, this referred to examining an event or process from multiple views over time, role or outcome, one of the basic techniques in producing evidence from knowledge.
A further concept of great interest was that of regulatory capture and in understanding the subtle ways that capture operates in day to day inspections but at the same time revealing the many interests seeking to gain advantage from regulatory encounters. Attribution theory introduced the notion of emotional influences on seemingly rational decision making, developed from research in the later 1990s into a major influence in the field of decision making and judgement. I could go on, for example, quality as multi-layered, is it process or outcome, what does proportionality really mean? And taking on the policy agenda of outcome based services the exploration of how to work in an outcome focused way, also, the role of trust in regulation. And so on. By the end of a ROCA course most students had their favourite concept. But, there was more; roca introduced loops galore, triple loop learning, inspection loops and feedback loops. Of these loops (we can also call them cycles) perhaps the most central became known as the chorus of ROCA, direct, detect and effect. DDE came about because the design brief for ROCA included the instruction that attention be given to the inspection feedback stage. DDE attempted to look at the different functions of inspection, including feedback and, most importantly to give them equal weighting. For many people Inspection evokes mental images of testing and investigating, a sort of sherlock Holmes type role, trying to catch people out. However, there are other as important functions, one of these is to give clear guidance on what is required and the other is to makes sure that where change is needed that the feedback stage is focused on the change steps and a demonstration by the service provider of a willingness to embrace the change.
What emerged from the interviews last year was the significance of these DDE stages for many students. It moved inspection from Sherlock Holmes to being an agent of change.
But, is regulation all about knowing the rules and the concepts, understanding the function of inspection. Or are these part of a broader knowledge base that regulators use in their everyday work. Does regulatory decision making concentrate only on the rules or is it about the interpretation of social care values and practices as well? Of course, it is the latter.
Inspectors make judgements, sometimes individually, often after discussing with colleagues. These are judgements intended to turn a principle, regulation or standard into improvements situated in the circumstances of a regulated entity. To illustrate this – when are children safe and is there a level of protection where protection becomes harmful? For example, if we think about children kept inside because of the perceived dangers of outside spaces. Inspectors make complex judgements that often contradict common sense and accepted understandings of safety and of risk, and of course the self interest of providers who understandably see safety as reducing their risks. Our approach to safety and risk here is aligned with what we see as healthy child development, giving children opportunities and managing the risks, rather than closing down the opportunities.
Another further example, and I find this less clear to make the judgement, might be drawn from regulatory objectives concerning service users involvement in managing a service. What do we count as participation or involvement?
Again, the judgement we make draws upon our own views of desirable levels of su involvment. The point I want to make is that regulatory judgements are not mechanical or bureaucratic, they have to be connected to wider frameworks of professional practice and values, as well as a promotion of the human rights of individuals using regulated services. So, to return to the question of the knowledge base of regulation we can see that the regulatory activity draws on a huge range of knowledge including, policy knowledge, practitioner knowledge, organisational knowledge research knowledge and service user knowledge. Rather than seeing these forms of knowledge as competing each with the other, or with one superior to the other my view is that regulators have to be fluent in accessing all types of knowledge.
Fluency in knowledge is about fluency in language and this brings us back to ROCAspeak. And this is possibly the most important achievement of ROCA. What many people told me last year was that ROCA, above everything else, gave them a language to talk and think about their work and a way of sharing and discussing those concepts and of linking their work with a wider set of social values around care. In my view it enabled students to engage in important policy developments in regulation and occasionally to challenge them. As an outsider I can see the potential in having a shared language and I think there is evidence that it has contributed to promoting innovation within the organisation at all levels. I say contribute because the Care Inspectorate and predecessor organisations have done so much to promote the involvement of service users in the regulated service and have so much to be proud of.
So, if RoCA has achieved anything, and we will find out more fully from the evaluation (and note I haven’t included the impact of practice learning) we can claim that is has fostered a common language and a shared understanding of regulatory concepts, tasks and dilemmas. It has framed regulatory knowledge within the wider sources of knowledge important to regulation. And that can’t be bad.
On behalf of Anglia Ruskin University I would like to thank the Care Inspectorate, predecessor bodies and staff for their consistent commitment and partnership in this project. ROCA has led the way in the University in its use of blended learning, the integration with the organisation, seconded posts, the development of organisationally based tutors, web based resources, online assessment, electronic submission and online discussion groups. And of course ROCA has possibly contributed significantly to the international development of the regulatory curriculum.
So, today there are many reasons to celebrate, not the least of which has been the pleasure of working with you all and our creative partnership.
So, enough of talking about celebration, we are getting close to the doing of the celebration! in order to prevent further delay I hand you back to the chair. Thank you….[/two_third]