Quality control is not a term used or heard often in human services. It’s a term that, perhaps, we would identify more readily with organisations that produce things; I think we can all agree that controlling how a plane is made is a very good thing. However, ensuring quality control over processes should be important for any type of business.
I often hear that control is difficult in human services because we are working with people and our aim is to be flexible. And things can change quickly and sometimes things go wrong. But it is precisely because we work with people in a client-centred environment that “control” should be paramount. Because what we
are controlling is risk.
Human service quality standards are generally non-prescriptive and flexible when it comes to how service processes are defined and delivered, recognising the diversity of the sector’s client groups and the uniqueness of individuals. However, there are requirements—contractual, legislative. You may not like the word “control”, but you should be concerned about client (and staff) safety and wellbeing, and ensuring their rights are protected. The best way to ensure this is by controlling your processes, so that everyone is aware of their expectations, management has a way of monitoring what's happening, and you have something to work from to improve.
Documenting (or video-taping, or drawing, etc) your processes is the best way to demonstrate control. Personally, I love a good process flowchart as I think they help keep processes succinct and clear. Once you have your control, don’t just let it go stale—commit to a review timeframe so you know it’s still working. Next week I'll talk a little more about how to write procedures that make sense.
Remember that control is not about restricting the individual way you deliver your services—it’s about ensuring that those services are delivered consistently in the best way.
Thanks for reading,
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!