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1.8 Audit Policy


  1. Purpose
  2. Scope
  3. Policy
  4. The Composite Audit Picture

1. Purpose

1.1 This document provides guidance in the auditing of Children’s Services case files. The expression ‘case file’ refers to the service users’ record on Protocol. The Auditing Policy and Procedure ensures that files are audited routinely to assure social care practice and decision making. It includes auditing compliance with recording practices as detailed in the Case Recording Procedure.

2. Scope

2.1 The contents of this document apply to all staff, including managers, who are involved in the recording of service user information in case files and/or have responsibility for the quality of the information recorded.
2.2 This audit policy is designed as an internal (to Children and Families) system to ensure quality standards in practice (and recording of that practice) are delivered to the end of improving outcomes for the children and young people we provide a service to. This audit system will sit alongside (and not instead of) audits organised by the Director/ Quality Assurance & Governance Officer or other external bodies (e.g. SCB or formal Inspections, such as by the Scottish Inspectorate).

3. Policy

3.1 The overarching aim of audit is to improve the quality of services and therefore outcomes for children and families. Case files will be examined in a systematic, clear and simple way, to ensure that all relevant practice quality and issues are captured. The information gained will be used for continuous quality improvement.
3.2 The aim of this policy and procedure is to develop and maintain a culture in which both quantitative and qualitative aspects of recording are routinely examined in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for children and young people. “Quantitative audits consider whether the file is up to date, contains all the relevant documentation and that the documentation has been properly completed. Qualitative auditing considers the quality of the recording on file and whether it reflects good practice”. Although these can be conducted independently, both are necessary.
3.3 The record may be up to date and contain all the relevant documentation but the quality of the recording may be poor or inappropriate to the needs of the child, similarly, the record may be of a high standard, but out of date.” (“Write Enough” - Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver in “Effective Recording for Children’s Services” (DoH 2003).
3.4 The audit involves the participation of all workers and is intended to encourage continuous improvement of outcomes for users and ensure the spread of good practice right across the system.

4. The Composite Audit Picture

4.1 The audit process is multi-faceted and is undertaken at a variety of levels all of which together produce a composite programme to ensure standards of both recording and practice are maintained and improvements required are identified and managed.
4.2 The implementation of the Integrated Children’s System using Protocol introduces a high volume of auditing activity of both quantity and quality. All specific pieces of work undertaken by workers - assessments, plans, and reviews - have to be authorised by a Team Manager. This is an automatic process built into the system that cannot be bypassed. This means that Team Managers know what pieces of work have been completed (or at what stage they are up to) and are given the opportunity to look at and comment on the quality of the content. Any work falling below standards of quality must be returned to the worker with comments from the Manager identifying the areas to be re-considered. Case Notes and Chronologies are at the fingertips of the Manager so they can be easily and quickly monitored to ensure they are up to date and appropriate.
4.3 At the point of transfer Protocol also gives the transferring Manager the opportunity to identify and record on the system that all recording is up to date and the case file is ready for transfer.
4.4 At the point of closure the Manager is again presented with a pro forma to confirm that all tasks have been undertaken and that the file is complete and ready for closure.
4.5 Additionally 3 files per team per month will be automatically selected at random by the system and a task assigned to the Team Manager to undertake a ‘File Fit for Purpose’ audit.
4.6 Managers are expected, in Reflective Supervision sessions, to discuss at least 1/3rd of the caseload each time so that the quality of practice, recording and decision making can be assessed.
4.7 The Chief Social Worker and the Head of Statutory Social Work Services will have full electronic access to all Protocol records so can quickly and easily check the key documentation and running case notes of any case coming to their attention. The Quality Assurance and Safeguarding Unit will have the same access, so can view case records on Looked After children and Child Protection cases that are of concern when presented for Review.
4.8 If these senior managers decide to audit a record they must advise the relevant Team Manager, invoke the ‘File Fit for Purpose’ procedure on Protocol manually via the Forms tab and record their audit using the pro forma supplied. The Team Manager and Social Worker will then have access to the completed document on Protocol. A fuller discussion around this must also take place to ensure all are aware of any issues arising from the process.