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Maintaining Service Quality

22 September 2017

Paul Shead - TSA Chair

I am delighted to be writing my first article for eLink since being elected Chair of TSA by the Board of Directors in June. This is an annual appointment, accountable to the Board, managing Board meetings and providing direct liaison between the Board and the CEO, Alyson Scurfield.  

There is much to be done. Opportunities continue to arise for the public, private and third sectors to reshape the entire range of frontline health and care services, making delivery more effective in the face of adversity.  

Most people seem to agree that technology is not an inhibiting factor: there is an inertia inherent in our government, institutions and methods, a built-in resistance to change. We need to overcome mistrust between the public and private sector, include the third sector, and ensure that budget holders who pay for products or services also receive the benefits in the right proportions. Ken Cheng’s one liner at the Edinburgh Fringe comes to mind: ‘I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again I hate all change.’  

Surely, the best way to convert opportunity to success is for all parties to genuinely work together, sharing both the risks and the rewards. To be successful, professionals will need to feel that their efforts to change culture will be rewarded, and that their working life will become more effective.  

We must maintain service quality, whatever changes we make together: over 1.7 million elderly and vulnerable people depend on TEC services in this country, not counting the many more relatives and friends who are concerned for their loved ones. This is why the recent launch of the TSA Quality Standards Framework (QSF) is so important, and so timely: it is the next step in the evolution of the TSA Code of Practice, accommodating changes in the TECS landscape that have occurred since the last review, and providing a more flexible structure to encourage innovation. The QSF is focused more on measuring outcomes (which are important to service users, their carers and their families) than measuring performance against processes.  

Service providers and suppliers will now be accredited against all the services and products they provide. Accredited organisations will be able to give clear and impartial confirmation that their whole offering can be trusted, giving pride to professionals and reassurance to service users. The audit process will provide valuable insight which can be used to make continuous improvement. John Ruskin said, ‘Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.’ Very true, but I like the astuteness of Henry Ford: ‘Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.’  

Over the years, I have seen our membership organisation continue to adapt to the changing landscape of social care and health; we are now emerging as the leading independent voice of technology enabled care. Together, we can improve quality of life for TEC service users and their families, and the quality of working life for the professionals who look after them.

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