About this work

IRISS is working with the Care Inspectorate to explore risk, innovation and improvement across Scotland. We are interested in understanding how the inspection and improvement process can facilitate innovation. We also want to understand the role of the Care Inspectorate in risk enablement across services.


It is continually recognised that the current economic climate requires new ideas and creativity to maintain and achieve quality support for people using social services. Innovation and creativity require experimentation if we are not allowed the room to make mistakes, creativity and originality become scarcer (IRISS, 2010). The role of the Care Inspectorate is scrutiny and improvement for care services across Scotland and is in the position to support this valuable creativity throughout the sector. The approach of regulators such as the Care Inspectorate will set the scene for social services in Scotland, as audit and regulatory regimes that serve to create a ‘blame culture’ may undermine desire and willingness to test and implement innovations (Brown, 2010; Munro, 2004).

Through this short project, we want to understand more about the role of the Care Inspectorate (CI) in stimulating innovation within the sector and want to support inspectors themselves to develop ways where, in their role, they can create the space for experimentation and creativity. We hope that this work will build upon existing developments aimed to move away from tick-boxed risk assessment towards a system that is based on outcomes and positive risk taking.


In early 2015, we launched a survey for all staff within the Care Inspectorate to understand their views on risk, innovation and improvement. We followed up this survey with two interactive workshops with staff from across the organisation using “Imagining the Future” to frame our thinking about the future of Scottish Social Services. These future scenarios are a useful and provocative guide for conversations around the associated opportunities and barriers we face together, as well as our respective roles in supporting change to happen positively.


  • The group is able to explore issues or risk and innovation
  • The group can determine opportunities and challenges in supporting innovation and improvement within the sector
  • Relationships are improved between people working in all areas of inspection
  • There is a better understanding of the relationship between risk/innovation/improvement and inspection

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about this projectplease contact Rhiann McLean from IRISS (rhiann.mclean@iriss.org.uk)

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