If you are an NDIS Provider, by now you should know all about the NDIS (Approved Quality Auditors Scheme) Scheme 2018, or, the verification or certification process that all registered providers have to go through where you are assessed by an external auditor.
If you haven’t yet read the Scheme – I don’t blame you! It’s essentially a piece of legislation, it’s dense and full of auditing jargon. But you have me! I was on the technical committee that developed the Human Services Quality Framework Scheme here in Queensland (I also wrote the first draft of that Scheme), so I can help break it down for you. For this blog post, I’m going to talk about Stage 1 and 2 of the audit process.
First up, Stage 1 and 2 only applies if you are a provider that has to go through the certification process. How do you know? You head in to the NDIS Portal and get yourself an Initial Scope of Audit document. This tells you – and the Approved Quality Auditors – what type of process you need to undergo.
Stage 1 is completed offsite by your auditor, and consists of the auditor reviewing your self-assessment, any prior certification outcomes, and any evidence that you also provided, such as your policies and procedures. The purpose of the Stage 1 audit is so that your auditor can determine how prepared your organisation is to go through a full external audit. The report you will be provided will contain where the auditor thinks you might have a non-conformity. When you think about it, this is great information! It means you get a heads-up on what you need to fix before you need to get certified.
A Stage 2 audit occurs within three months of the Stage 1 audit – plenty of time to fix what might have been identified as an issue in Stage 1. A Stage 2 will initially consist of at least two auditors coming to your site/s and reviewing your records, interviewing management and staff, and interviewing participants.
A sampling methodology is applied if you have more than one service site, and to how many participants the auditors will interview and how many participant records they will look at. The methodology can seem complicated, but really what the auditors need to do is ensure they interview and look at the widest range possible in the time that they have. They will try and speak to people from all backgrounds and from the different services you deliver. I may discuss this in a future blog post, along with what happens if you get a non-conformity during the Stage 2.
I encourage you to develop a good relationship with your Approved Quality Auditor, as they will help you have a smooth certification process, and will tell you what you need for both stages.
If you’re just starting out in this process and need some help, please feel free to drop me an email so we can discuss your options: email@example.com
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Whether you own or work in a business, compliance is key. Compliance is making sure that you meet all of the requirements relevant to your business - this could be legislation, regulations, best practice, or quality standards. Every business in Australia has compliance requirements, so knowing what they are, and having a system in place to manage these requirements, really puts you in front.
Many people think of quality management as a burden or an "extra", but compliance requirements aren't going away (especially in the human services sector). Remember what I said about embracing compliance? Setting up a quality management system is the easiest way to manage your compliance. Managing your quality management system - that is, actively working in and on it - will make compliance a breeze.
The best way to manage your QMS is to be proactive! Schedule time each week in your calendar for quality management tasks. Schedule different tasks for each week of the months. For example:
Week 1: Review policies and procedures
Week 2: Review complaints and incidents
Week 3: Review governance requirements
Week 4: Review improvement actions
Start with one hour a week - that is only 2.5% of your working week! That is surely worth the investment for the peace of mind that you are meeting your compliance requirements.
Speak to me about how to manage your QMS, and how to make compliance a breeze: firstname.lastname@example.org
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First of all, congratulations! You had the idea you wanted to become a provider of disability or aged care services. You worked hard to build up a company, get the right people involved, and work through the finances.
It’s a lot of work to become a registered or approved provider. Both the disability and aged care sectors are heavily regulated, and there are multiple compliance layers that new business owners need to work through. That’s why my number one tip to new providers is:
Compliance is interchangeable with quality management in this case. The policies and procedures you have to write, the supporting documents that need to be filled out, the communication you need to have in place with your staff and clients – all of this forms your quality management system, which helps you stay compliant.
The fact is, the disability and aged care sectors are not going to stop being heavily regulated any time soon – and given that we are in the human services sector, do we really want to reduce any of the checks and balances?
So now is the time to embrace quality management and compliance. Learn to love policies and procedures. Learn to love internal auditing, and engaging with stakeholders, and keeping your registers up to date. Learn to love continual improvement.
The result will be safer, better services, and happier staff and clients. For you, that means a more successful business.
And don’t forget, you don’t have to do this alone! Contact me for support – I can providing training for you and your staff on quality management and compliance: email@example.com
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There has been a lot happening in the disability and aged care sectors, but of course one of the biggest things impacting organisations has been the development and release of the new NDIS Practice Standards (replacing all state-based quality standards like the Human Services Standards and Human Services Quality Standards) and the Aged Care Quality Standards (which brought together the Aged Care Accreditation Standards and the Home Care Standards).
These two new standards are not vastly different from what we had before. But they do require some effort to implement in your organisation, so that you can be truly ready for the next time an external auditor comes to visit. Here are three things that you can do:
A consultant like myself can help you with steps 1 and 2 above, but step 3 will always be up to you, and it is a crucial step. Remember to keep records of your transition – include what you’re doing in your Improvement Plan, ensure you have a system for keeping records of any new process (e.g. signing new Codes of Conduct, adding new training to your Training Register).
If you do need help with steps 1 and 2, give me a call! I can work across all states and territories and can currently offer a quick turnaround for your project.
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If you had a bit of a holiday break over Christmas and New Year, welcome back to work - you're probably full steam ahead, because human services never really stops, so here are some quick tips to get your year started right, quality management-wise.
1. Set your internal audit schedule - you might call this process or document reviews. However you do it, for your organisation, make sure you book it in now. Internally auditing or reviewing your organisation SHOULD NOT be ad hoc. Prioritise, based on risk, plan, and book in the relevant stakeholders.
2. Write or review your strategic or operational plans - or at least book in a review for later in the year. Now is a great time to revisit your business priorities. You can do this on a larger scale with your staff and clients, or it might just be a quick review to set some goals for the next few weeks.
3. Book in some time to get client feedback - again, this is about knowing where you are, and setting some goals for 2018. This process does not have to be formal (think paper or online surveys), although it can be. But if you're a small organisation, you might just call up your clients and ask them how last year went with regard to their services, and if they have any suggestions for this year. Record your findings in your Improvement Plan!
4. Schedule in staff training - training staff in human services should also not be ad hoc. You need to look at your client group and the type of services you provide, and tailor staff training accordingly. Schedule it in, book in external trainers if you need to, and evaluate the training afterwards. This is also a good time to chat to staff about their goals for this year, and review last year's performance and goal achievement. Or, book that chat in for later this year now.
I hope you have a great start to 2018. If you're a new organisation, you might be starting to think about your first external audit this year! I can help by checking number 1 from this list off for you, and conducting an audit on your business - see my Pricing page, or contact me.
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It's been a huge year for me at The Quality Nerd, as I followed my dreams and made the business my full-time job. I'm infinitely grateful for my clients that made the leap possible, and I'm very much looking forward to continuing to work with you in 2018.
For 2018, I hope for the following:
1. To support new businesses with their first external audits - if you registered as an NDIS or Home Care Provider in 2017, you will probably have your first audit in 2018. An audit can be scary if you haven't been through one before, but a great way to calm your nerves is to be prepared by having an internal audit. I have over 10 years experience in internal auditing, and I can help you with a desktop audit, or come to your site / office to thoroughly review your records.
2. Continue writing - I love to write, especially policies, procedures, tender applications, and self-assessments! I'm certainly not called a nerd for nothing. In 2018 I would like to support businesses by helping them write documents for their processes that are meaningful, useful, and compliant to requirements.
3. Travel with purpose - this links in with goal #2, in that I'd like to do more pro-bono work in 2018. That's right, if you're a small human services or animal welfare organisation, and you need some support with quality, processes, or management, I offer 1-2 days onsite of my time to help you with your business issues. All I ask is for permission to write a de-identified case study about you.
If you'd like to start 2018 with a business bang, please contact me any time: firstname.lastname@example.org
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I just downloaded the latest resource from EVPA and Social Value International, released 12 September 2017. It's called Impact Management Principles, and it's a short, highline look at how non-government organisations (or what they call social purpose organisations) can incorporate impact management / measurement into their information collection processes.
Link to website
Link to resource
We're still getting used to the idea of measuring outcomes in human services organisations here in Australia, but the time when it becomes mandatory for many service types is fast-approaching. It can seem overwhelming - you need to plan, maintain, analyse, report. What I like about this resource is that it breaks down impact management into manageable parts, and they've presented the information in a very easy-to-read format - great for beginners!
Don't forget I have organisational review packages running until the end of November - book me now to start 2018 fresh and clear about where your organisation is at with regards to meeting quality standards. Email email@example.com
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Please let me know if there's any other quality or business topics you'd like me to cover in a vlog!
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Those of us working in the aged care sector in Australia have recently watched, in horror, as details have emerged from South Australia and Newcastle of shocking incidents and practices in aged care facilities. This has become public news, rightly so, and the government’s response to public outrage is, usually, to launch an inquiry. Which has, of course, happened.
However, the Aged Care Accreditation Standards, and the way in which those standards are assessed, has been under review for some time already. Actually, many years. There was one crack at it a few years ago, which stalled, but when the Quality Agency took over Home Care the move to make a single aged care quality standard was inevitable.
A few weeks ago, the Department of Health released its final consultation on the draft single set of standards and the assessment / review framework. But yet now the Quality Agency faces another inquiry. What no one has answered, yet, is how these two reviews will meet, if in fact they will at all.
But more importantly than that, have we really addressed the issue of aged care quality in Australia? Do we really know what we want to achieve? Do we understand how facilities work, how the staff in those facilities work, and how to balance safety and a person-centred approach?
The Aged Care Accreditation Standards came about because nursing homes were not accountable for providing quality, safe care – it led to poor outcomes for residents, and a workforce that couldn’t sustain itself. The Standards were all about safety, to start with. There were a few nice things in there about meeting the individual’s needs, but essentially, it was about protecting safety, rights, and overall wellbeing. I strongly believe it still achieves this, overall.
The draft single standards want to go in a completely different direction, and focus more on person-centred care. PCC is a model that is very popular in Australia, because it has worked so well overseas. I feel, though, that no one has asked – are our facilities the same as they are overseas? Is our workforce the same?
I would love to say that Australia provides person-centred care. But we don’t. Not yet. We provide very good care; we have wonderful staff, and we have commitment at all levels, from what I’ve seen, to give residents the best quality of life that we can.
But – we are over-regulated, we are not funded adequately (I’ll concede that the government is reviewing the funding model also), and our workplaces are just not yet set up for true person-centred care.
The trouble with aged care quality in Australia is that the support system it needs isn’t there yet. We need to address that first. I believe that quality will remain the same – despite a new model, standards, or inquiries – until we can address the support system first.
Do you have a topic suggestion? Something really bugging you about Quality? Send me an email! Your details will remain private, but I'll send you an email back