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An exploratory study of the views of stakeholders about the role of regulation in social care service provision in Scotland.

Pritchard, Gillian Borthwick


Gillian Borthwick Pritchard


Linda H. Smith

Lesley Diack


Performance management of social work and social care services, complemented by effective regulation, is viewed as key to improving delivery and providing public assurance about care quality, and the value of listening to stakeholders as contributors to the knowledge base has long been recognised. The evidence base as it relates to stakeholders’ experiences of regulation, however, has not been comprehensively explored. Many studies seek the views of stakeholders in the development of individual services, yet fewer studies seek their views in shaping regulatory methodology. The rationale for this research was to contribute to a knowledge base from evidence using an empirical approach and to contribute to better understanding of regulation from the perspectives of stakeholders. The research was undertaken using an explanatory sequential mixed methods design. For the quantitative phase, a descriptive analysis of data held by the regulator in relation to the evaluations of care services, improvement in evaluations over a specified period of time and the impact of complaints, requirements or enforcements on this performance was undertaken. Data in relation to inspection satisfaction questionnaires was also descriptively analysed. Findings from the quantitative phase informed the qualitative phase. The qualitative phase began with a co-productive approach involving ten individuals: both regulatory staff and inspection volunteers. Themes arising from their responses, complemented by the findings from previous research phases, then informed the design of individual interviews with six service providers. A thematic analysis was undertaken for both parts of the qualitative phase. The research demonstrated some contradictory views between regulators and those being regulated. Regulators described building positive relationships with services within a model of responsive regulation. Service providers experienced a bureaucratic process with a compliance focus and relationships in which the power imbalance and a lack of knowledge often led to feelings of anxiety and fear. In the current environment in which high quality care is expected by both public and government alike, despite the impact of austerity measures, this research recommends that further dialogue needs to take place to ensure the impact and outcomes from regulation are better understood and explicitly articulated.


PRITCHARD, G.B. 2020. An exploratory study of the views of stakeholders about the role of regulation in social care service provision in Scotland. Robert Gordon University, DPP thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 1, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 1, 2021
Keywords Social care; Social work; Regulation; Stakeholder perspectives
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