In the second of our ‘Through the keyhole’ series on spot checks, we’ve asked colleagues from Brent Council to tell us all about their experience – the dos the don’ts and what they learned from the process.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments or if there’s anything you’re not clear on about how spot checks work.
Many thanks to Nicky Case, the Troubled Families Co-Ordinator in Brent for sharing her insights!
Name: Nicky Case (front centre)
Job title: Troubled Families Co-Ordinator
Local authority: Brent
When did you have your spot check?
26 January 2017.
How many claims were checked on the day?
26 cases were selected by DCLG, which equated to 10% of our total claims.
Who carried out your spot check from DCLG?
James Taylor and Anna McCaul. Alima Qureshi was scheduled to attend but had to send her apologies on the day, unfortunately.
Which colleagues did you enlist for support on the day?
The Operations Director for Integrated and Improved Outcomes (CYP) was there to introduce the day and returned to hear the feedback.
For the rest of the day, we had out Quality and Localities Manager, Early Help, our Senior Data Analyst, one team leader and three key workers.
How did you prepare for the spot check?
Two members of the data team and I attended the spot check workshop held by DCLG in November, which we found useful. We decided to produce printed case files on each of the families based on the three key questions that spot check officers were interested in (eligibility, evidence of Troubled Families approach and evidence of claim eligibility).
The types of information included to demonstrate veracity to the programme were:
- excerpts from assessments and plans
- extracts from case notes, chronologies, outcome stars, reviews and closure summaries to show progress and demonstrate outcomes
- evidence of outcomes from partner agencies – domestic violence case recording system or screen shots of DWP evidence
- live online demonstration of records for school attendance of all children in families who claimed for significant and sustained progress
How did the day go?
It was a really positive day; the DCLG team were very reassuring and clear on the purpose and processes. The key workers were nervous but once they started talking about their work and outcomes with families, the nerves disappeared.
Which areas of your programme received positive feedback?
It was gratifying to receive positive feedback from DCLG on our preparation and the work we’d achieved. Some of the highlights that the spot check officers commented on included:
- the work of the practitioners in achieving outcomes for complex families
- our innovative ‘Claims Clinic' that reinforces the close relationship between the data team and practitioners
- relationship with internal audit
- good range of services on offer to provide holistic support for families
- the quality of the case files produced
Were there any invalid claims/ areas for improvement?
We were pleased that there were no invalid claims.
Was any follow-up required?
We were required to provide attendance information for two children educated out of borough, but we were able to provide this before the DCLG officers left for the day.
What did you learn from the process? Did you find it useful?
The visit helped to reinforce how critically important planning and preparation are. It was a very good process to go through to ensure that we have the robust systems in place for evidencing the great work being done.
As a result of the spot check, we amended some internal forms and processes in relation to employment to ensure all the relevant data is captured.
What would you change about spot checks?
Nothing per se but I would definitely recommend that the spot check workshops are repeated.
What would your top tip be for other areas being spot checked?
We analysed the task to understand exactly what was required. You need scrupulous planning, preparation and excellent team work!
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