Positive relationships rarely start with a cool assessment of faults and failures. The same goes for audits.
Like everything else in life audits can be good, bad or indifferent and many of us will have experienced several of them – positive and constructive at best, hugely dispiriting at worst.
Dudley Telecare Service maintained accreditation under the TSA Code of Practice for ten consecutive years before becoming one of the first organisations to successfully complete its new Quality Standards Framework (QSF). So what is the key to getting through the QSF?
For us, one of the most important messages about preparing for the audit is not to simply prepare for the audit. Running a quality service is an ongoing process, it doesn’t happen on one day. At Dudley Telecare we review our policies and procedures every 12 months and monitor our services on an ongoing basis because we want to improve and innovate year on year.
The QSF itself was an opportunity to sell our service – something we had never been able to do under the old Code of Practice regime. For the first time the auditors were willing to listen to what we had to say about our service and engage with staff. We were able to talk about our outreach work, telecare surgeries and partnerships. We were able to demonstrate a golden thread of shared understanding from the chief officer to our apprentice. We were able to present evidence of a quality service and, quite rightly, be challenged on it. And we were able to share the results of a recent internal audit and demonstrate how we’d addressed the issues it raised.
But if the QSF is an opportunity to shine, it is also an opportunity to share. Among TSA members there is a lot of good practice and good news which needs to get out. We each have a wealth of information and all of us has something to offer others. This peer to peer learning is vital for individual organisations, TSA and the industry as a whole.
If we, as a sector, want people to know what technology enabled care is all about we need to demonstrate good practice and high standards. That means learning from our mistakes by being open and honest and it means approaching the audit process with integrity, not in the interests of getting through the audit itself, but in the interests of running quality services and selling the sector as a whole.
For the technology enabled care sector, the QSF is a framework to build on so that we can develop and grow. It encourages shared learning and continuous improvement, it allows us to get our stories out there and, thankfully, it shouldn’t give any of us sleepless nights.
Karen Bridgewater is Call Centre Manager, Access & Telecare at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.
For more information about TSA’s Quality Standards Framework click here