Trying to get my head around auditing

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Prosopon
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 pm

Trying to get my head around auditing

Post by Prosopon » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:37 pm

I had an informal visit yesterday at a memory clinic service where I have an interview coming up and one of the staff members mentioned that the previous AP got heavily involved in auditing. I do not have any experience of auditing and am still trying to get my head around what it is exactly, and how it differs to research or a service evaluation. I have googled this and searched on this site, but still do not feel confident that I can distinguish them!

I think I understand that an audit is a systematic review of care in relation to a set standard. So as an example, the Dementia Challenge outlines that everyone referred for an assessment for dementia should be seen within 6 weeks. An audit could look at referrals to the service over the last year and identify how many people had an assessment within 6 weeks and how many people had to wait longer than this. Does this sound like an audit?

I am struggling with how a service evaluation is different to an audit, to be honest. Does it evaluate the care provided by the service, but not in relation to any specified criteria? A tentative example I have is measuring people’s cognitive functioning before and after Cognitive Stimulation Therapy to see if the intervention is having the desired outcome. Does this sound like a service evaluation? Would another example be sending out "satisfaction" surveys to service-users who have finished treatment to ascertain how happy people are with the service they received?

And then research attempts to generate new knowledge which can be generalised beyond the sample. In a memory clinic, a research project could compare the outcomes of two different treatments. For example, is group Cognitive Stimulation Therapy more effective than individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy?

Am I on the right lines here? I’d appreciate any help with this! And would anyone mind sharing some specific audit and service evaluation projects they have carried out to enable me to get a better sense of different topics etc?

I’ve also been trying to think about my transferable skills in relation to auditing. Obviously my research skills from my degrees and my awareness of ethical issues would be helpful. Also, when I worked on an inpatient mental health ward I informally ascertained that the majority of staff were not getting their full break (or sometimes even any break) when everyone is entitled to have one and I brought this to the attention of the manager. This led to some changes which ensured everyone got an adequate break. If I had assessed this formally (the number of staff not getting their full 1 hour break over a 1 month period against the criteria that everyone is entitled to and should get a 1 hour break) would this have been an example of an audit? Or is it a service evaluation? Or something else?! Do people think I could talk about this example in my interview if asked about auditing? I'd obviously make it clear that I didn't actually carry out an audit.

I’d appreciate any help with this. Thanks.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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maven
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Re: Trying to get my head around auditing

Post by maven » Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:41 pm

Yup, you've got it. Only thing I'd add is that anything involving randomisation (eg whether a person gets allocated to an intervention or a control group) or a change of practise for the purposes of gaining knowledge is research and requires ethical approval, even when it is set within the context of a service and is evaluating what works.

If the one hour break is a legal requirement or a contract term, then it is an external standard of comparison and hence an audit. But it could be a component of a wider service evaluation if you also surveyed staff satisfaction, for example. And research skills translate to audit, as does anything demonstrating you understand external standards.
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

Prosopon
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 pm

Re: Trying to get my head around auditing

Post by Prosopon » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:06 pm

maven wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:41 pm
Yup, you've got it. Only thing I'd add is that anything involving randomisation (eg whether a person gets allocated to an intervention or a control group) or a change of practise for the purposes of gaining knowledge is research and requires ethical approval, even when it is set within the context of a service and is evaluating what works.

If the one hour break is a legal requirement or a contract term, then it is an external standard of comparison and hence an audit. But it could be a component of a wider service evaluation if you also surveyed staff satisfaction, for example. And research skills translate to audit, as does anything demonstrating you understand external standards.
Brilliant! Thank you for your helpful response.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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