View Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Procedures View Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Procedures

1.1.12 Peer Review On-line Case File Audit Guidance

AMENDMENT

This chapter has been updated and should be read in its entirety (September 2016).


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Case File Audit Programme - Who Will Audit?
3. Audit Sample - How Are Cases Identified?
4. The Audit Process
  4.1 Staff Notification of Cases Requiring Audit During Month
  4.2 What Happens if the Team Manager and/or Peer Reviewer Fail to Complete their Audit on Time?
  4.3 How Will Auditing be Undertaken?
  4.4 Completing the Electronic Audit Tool
  4.5 Recording Audit Activity
  4.6 What Happens Once the Audit Tool is Complete and Submitted?
  4.7 Responding to any Safeguarding Concerns Identified during Auditing
  4.8 Guidance for Children’s Safeguarding Unit Moderation Officers (Stage 3)
5. Reporting


1. Introduction

This document sets out the process and requirements for operating Kent’s Online Case File Audit Programme, which provides a mechanism for regular, in built review of casework by Operational managers in Children’s Social Work teams and other staff with a case-oversight function.

Kent County Council’s Children’s Social Services case file audit programme has been developed to monitor compliance against statutory requirements and supports a culture of continuous quality improvement within Children’s Social Services practice to secure the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

The programme is supported by the requirements set out in the Quality Assurance Framework Procedure.

The audit programme aims to:

  • Improve outcomes for the most vulnerable children and young people;
  • Take into account the requirements of inspection bodies;
  • Involve all children’s social care staff at all levels in continuously seeking to improve practice;
  • Ensure consistency of approach across children’s social care;
  • Embed a culture of continuous quality improvement.

The QA Online Audit programme promotes learning and gives feedback through regular peer review. The online audit programme incorporates a review of all aspects of a child’s journey through Specialist Children’s Services with particular emphasis on “staging points” within that journey at the point of audit.

Parallel with their involvement in the QA online case audit programme, social workers, supervisors and Operational managers are expected to read case records on a regular basis and managers, through supervision robustly address the need for any improvements in practice or areas of missing information on the child’s case-file.


2. Case File Audit Programme - Who Will Audit?

All social workers and their managers across the entire spectrum of Specialist Children’s Services will take part in the online audit programme, including Team Managers, Service Managers, Child Protection Chairs, Independent Reviewing Officers, Children’s Safeguarding Unit Officers, Assistant Area Directors, the Director for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director.

Auditors:

Team Managers are assigned the role of the ‘Auditor’. Each month every team manager in Specialist Children’s Services is allocated a case they are responsible for line managing to audit under the QA online audit programme.

Peer Reviewers:

Service managers, SCS Assistant Directors, the Director and Corporate Director and Safeguarding Unit Officers, including Independent Reviewing Officers, Child Protection Chairs and Practice Development Officers, take on the role of ‘Peer-Reviewer’. Their role is to independently audit the quality of social work practice on the case and by extension the quality of the management oversight on the case.

The Allocated Social Worker:

The allocated Social Worker for each child / young person’s case selected for audit also contributes to the auditing process, through providing their views and reflections on their practice in the case to the Auditor (Team Manager) before the Auditor quality assures practice.

Each Team Manager and Peer Reviewer will audit one case per month. The number of cases audited each month will be determined by how many Auditors are available to audit in any given month.

Suitable reasons for dispensation from auditing would be:

  • On long term sick leave for more than two-thirds of their work-time in any given month;
  • On annual leave for more than two-thirds of their work time in any given month;
  • Seconded to work in another team that is not part of the online audit programme.


3. Audit Sample - How Are Cases Identified?

The Management Information Unit will provide the information for the random audit sample.

The sample will be drawn from all caseloads where there is an open Child in Need, Child Protection or Child in Care / Care Leaver case (if a case is both Child in Care and Child Protection, the Child Protection categorisation will take precedence for the purpose of the audit).


4. The Audit Process

4.1 Staff Notification of Cases Requiring Audit During Month

At the beginning of each month the Management Information Unit will publish the list of cases selected for audit on the SCS Performance Management page on Knet.

Prior to the start of the month each Auditor will be sent an automated email from the Head of Quality Assurance (copied to the allocated peer reviewer) giving them the details of the child / young person’s case that they have been assigned to audit / quality assure. The email provides a link for the team manager to complete their audit. The copy of the email sent to the peer reviewer does not contain this link in order to avoid peer reviewers beginning the audit process in error.

Staff will need to log onto to both the child’s electronic case file record on the Integrated Children’s System (LIBERI) as well as the online electronic audit tool in order to carry out auditing.

Halfway through the month, Assistant Area Directors and Service Managers, receive a list of the names of team managers who have not completed their audit.

It is essential for each Auditor’s line manager to ensure that they take action to establish whether there is a reason for any delay in auditing the case and put in place the necessary support/actions to ensure that the Auditor can complete their audit on time.

If an audit cannot be completed due to extended staff sickness or other absences that arise following the issue of the case, the Auditor’s line manager should ensure that they inform the Management Information Unit (MIU) so that they can take action to discount the Auditor for that month as well as any future months that they are expected to be unavailable for auditing.

4.2 What Happens if the Team Manager and/or Peer Reviewer Fail to Complete their Audit on Time?

It is the policy of Specialist Children’s Services that all cases selected for audit under the QA online audit programme are completed within the prescribed timescales; unless formal dispensation has been provided.

A number of processes have been incorporated in to the QA online audit programme to facilitate completion of audits:

  1. Halfway through each month, MIU provide the AADs and Service Managers with a list of all Team Managers who have not completed their audit for the month so far to enable them to ensure these are completed by the end of the month;
  2. After issuing the case for audit to the team manager, an automated email is sent to the team manager every 10 working days (until the audit has been submitted) to remind them to complete their audit;
  3. After the Peer Reviewer receives an email requesting they peer review the completed audit, an automated email is sent to them as a reminder every 10 working days until they have completed their peer review and submitted;
  4. Completion rates by Area and District are recorded in the monthly QA online audit performance report.

The findings from the QA online Audit (including completion rates) are covered in the quarterly area deep dives.

4.3 How Will Auditing be Undertaken?

The auditing judgements for each case selected under the programme are recorded on a standardised online audit form, which is comprised of 9 sub-sections and an overview section. Each sub-section contains a number of questions focusing on essential areas of practice that are based on key standards and statutory requirements. The auditor answers each question in the sub-sections presented based on practice evidenced in the child / young person’s electronic social care record held on Liberi.

The audit tool requires auditors to make brief judgements about whether information is contained on the case file, whether actions taken are appropriate and about the overall quality of the work. The audit tool and its integrated grading guidance should be followed and each section completed.

The sections of the form that are generated automatically will be based on the information provided by the Auditor in stage 1. These will vary depending on whether the case is a Child in Need, Child Protection or Child in Care / Care Leaver and also whether the case has been open for less or more than 3 months.

4.4 Completing the Electronic Audit Tool

Stage 1, Audit

Approximately 5 days before the start of a month, each team manager receives an email asking them to quality assure practice in the selected case. At the end of each sub-section of the audit form (other than the sub-section on supervision / management oversight) the team manager is required to give a grading on the quality of practice in the case.

With respect to the section on ‘Supervision / Management Oversight’, the Team Manager is not required to give a grading but is asked to comment on their own practice in the same way in which the social worker was asked to comment on their practice in the previous stage (note: the grading of this sub-section is completed by the Peer Reviewer during stage 2).

In the ‘Overview’ section, the Team Manager is required to provide recommendations with respect to improving practice in the case, as well as provide an overall grading of the case. The overall grading should be influenced by how the various sub-sections have been graded. A link to ‘Grade Descriptors’ designed to help auditors make this judgement is provided on the audit form.

Once completed, the form should be submitted using the ‘submit’ option on the online form.

The Team Manager receives a completed PDF document of the completed audit form. The Auditor should:

  1. Consider how they can use the completed audit in their case supervision with the allocated social worker;
  2. Place a copy of the completed online audit form on the social workers' supervision folder;
  3. Provide a summary of findings of the audit on the child’s Liberi record.

A copy of the audit form will also be sent automatically to the following managers:

  • Service Manager accountable for the child / young person’s case;
  • The accountable IRO Team Manager for all Children in Care cases audited;
  • The CP Chairs Manager for all Child Protection cases audited;
  • The Service Manager for Safeguarding Quality Assurance for all cases graded outstanding, inadequate and inadequate critical.

Stage 2, Peer Review

The Peer Reviewer is sent an email generated in response to the Team Manager completing and submitting their part of the form.

The Peer Reviewer completes the same sections of the audit form as the Team Manager. The Peer Reviewer is presented with the Team Manager’s answers, comments grading judgements and recommendations for each section of the audit.

The Peer Reviewer is required to quality assure the Team Manager’s analysis and grading of the case, including providing a grading with respect to the quality of supervision / management oversight in the case. A link to grading guidance is provided for each sub-section and a link to grade descriptors are provided in the overview section to assist in determining the appropriate grading.

In the event that the Peer Reviewer provides a different answer to any question from the Team Manager, the audit form opens a comment box asking the Peer Reviewer to explain why.

Once they have completed all the sections of the audit form the Peer Reviewer submits the form using the ‘submit’ option on the online form.

A PDF version of the completed audit form - showing the Peer Reviewer’s and Team Manager’s answers, comments, recommendations and grading is emailed to the Peer Reviewer and the Team Manager.

In addition, the following Managers also receive a copy of the audit form:

  • Service Manager accountable for the child / young person’s case;
  • The accountable IRO Team Manager for all Children in Care cases audited;
  • The CP Chairs Manager for all Child Protection cases audited;
  • The Service Manager for Safeguarding;
  • Quality Assurance for all cases graded outstanding, inadequate and inadequate critical.

Stage 3, Moderation

This stage is triggered automatically when either of the following occurs:

  • There is scope for there to be a difference in grading of the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer in any of the sub-sections but there cannot be a different overall Grading;
  • The Peer Reviewer grades supervision / management oversight as inadequate.

If either of these factors is met, the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer both receive an email informing them that moderation of the audit grading is required. This requires the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer to discuss the case in order to agree on a moderated grading.

If agreement is reached, the Team Manager submits their moderated grading using the link provided in the moderation email.

If the moderation requires the grading of ‘supervision / management oversight’ to be changed the Peer Reviewer should re-submit their grading using the email link provided for them in the email.

If the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer cannot reach agreement on a moderated grading for the case, the Peer Reviewer should contact the Service Manager for Safeguarding Quality Assurance and request further moderation of the case. A Practice Development Officer will be appointed to moderate the grading in the case; taking into account the Team Manager’s and Peer Reviewer’s comments from the audit form, while also independently quality assuring practice in the case. The findings reached by the Practice Development Officer with respect to the grading of the case will be treated as final and the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer will be expected to moderate the grading in the case accordingly.

Once moderation has been undertaken, a revised PDF form with the moderated grading is generated and sent to the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer.

Click here to view The Stages Involved in the Peer Review Online Audit Programme Flowchart.

4.5 Recording Audit Activity

Any audit activity needs to be recorded on the child’s case-file. It is therefore a requirement of the QA online audit process that Team Managers produce a case note on the child/young person’s case file to record that they have completed the audit tool, as follows:

  • The “Case Audit - Online Audit Programme” needs to be selected from the Event Type pick-list on LIBERI;
  • The auditor should copy and paste the information completed within the Overview section of the Audit Tool from the “Analysis of Audit Findings” and the “Recommended Action(s) to be taken” fields, into the Case Note on LIBERI.

Auditors will ensure that what is recorded on the child’s case record is appropriate information. This information may be used in future to support legal proceedings and may also be accessed by the child / young person should they require access to their records at a later time.

The audit information at the conclusion of the audit tool should provide a précis of the overall findings of the audit. Findings should be succinct and set out in a way that is not critical of individual worker’s practice, but rather factual regarding any identified issues. The case note should also identify any actions that are required in order to ensure that the child / young person is safeguarded and their welfare promoted.

In order to ensure that audit findings are being recorded appropriately, it is recommended that the team manager’s line manager review the audit recording on the individual case files on Liberi.

4.6 What Happens Once the Audit Tool is Complete and Submitted?

A PDF version of the completed audit is sent automatically to the Team Manager after they have submitted their audit. Once the Peer Reviewer completes their stage of the audit, a further PDF report is generated and sent to the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer. A PDF report is also generated and sent to the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer following any moderation of grading under stage 3 of the audit process.

Completed audit forms are also automatically submitted to:

  • Service Manager accountable for the child / young person’s case;
  • The accountable IRO Team Manager for all Children in Care cases audited;
  • The CP Chairs Manager for all Child Protection cases audited;
  • The Service Manager Safeguarding Quality Assurance for all cases graded outstanding, inadequate and inadequate critical;
  • The Service Manager for Safeguarding Quality.

4.7 Responding to any Safeguarding Concerns Identified during Auditing

It is the responsibility of the Team Manager auditing the case to ensure that any immediate concerns are identified regarding a child’s safety or wellbeing during the course of the audit and to ensure that the case-holding social worker is made aware of these concerns as a matter of urgency and takes appropriate action. Action should not wait until auditing is completed. It is fundamental that children’s safety and welfare are prioritised.

The Peer Reviewer is also expected to ensure that any immediate concerns they have identified during the audit are responded to by the Team Manager.

The Service Manager for Safeguarding Quality

For any case graded as inadequate critical, the Service Manager Safeguarding Quality Assurance will assign a Practice Development Officer to confirm the grading status of the case and liaise with the appropriate Operational managers to ensure that work necessary to address immediate concerns giving rise to the inadequate grading are put in place quickly.

The Operational Service Manager will take action to address deficit in any children’s case where practice overall has been graded as ‘Inadequate’ until the steps required to bring practice to an adequate level have been implemented. In the event that practice remains inadequate after 1 month of liaison with the Team Manager, the case will be escalated to the relevant AD.

4.8 Guidance for Children’s Safeguarding Unit Moderation Officers (Stage 3)

The Children’s Quality Assurance and Safeguarding Unit will allocate an officer to moderate on the grading of any children’s case audited under the QA online audit programme when the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer cannot agree on a moderated grading for the case.

The Practice Development Officer will establish the current level of practice of the child’s case in the case from the child / young person’s case-file on Liberi - taking into account the analysis and grading of the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer.

The findings reached by the Practice Development Officer with respect to the grading of the case will be treated as final and the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer will be expected to moderate the grading in the case accordingly.

Once moderation has been undertaken, a revised PDF form with the moderated grading will then be generated and sent to the Team Manager and Peer Reviewer. The Practice Development Officer assigned to moderate the case will also:

  • Make contact with the Service Manager accountable for the child’s case to inform them of the moderated grading;
  • Complete a case-note on the child’s case file to show that the case has been subject to moderation (including date moderated), with a summary of the moderated grading.

Ensure that the Service Manager Safeguarding Quality Assurance is kept updated on the outcome of the moderation.


5. Reporting

The MIU team will provide monthly reports giving analysis on the findings from the QA online auditing. The audit information will also be included in the Quarterly Audit Report which is a new reporting strand giving feedback from all audits activity within the Quality Assurance and Safeguarding Unit, which will feed into the SCS.DivMT and the KSCB Quality and Effectiveness Group. 

End