Journal Article

A Critical Reflection on the Involvement of ‘Experts by Experience’ in Inspections

Peter Scourfield

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 6, pages 1890-1907
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcp119
A Critical Reflection on the Involvement of ‘Experts by Experience’ in Inspections

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Recent research conducted in the UK for the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) suggested that there was no evidence to indicate that the involvement of service users and lay assessors in service inspections improved the quality of inspections. However, recently, CSCI has initiated a project to involve ‘experts by experience’ in their service inspections. Here, the term ‘expert by experience’ has been adopted to describe users of social care services. However, the appropriateness of this usage has not been without some challenge and various conceptual difficulties have been raised in how the term is used. Reflecting on reports published by CSCI, this paper considers whether the choice of the word ‘expert’ in this context is really appropriate and also whether, although well intentioned, the involvement of ‘experts by experience’ is too confused in its rationale to actually empower the people using the services being inspected. The paper concludes by suggesting that the current inspection body—the Care Quality Commission—would do well to review both the terminological and conceptual confusion in respect of this practice.

Keywords: care home inspections; critical reflection; lay assessors; service users

Journal Article.  7091 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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