Share Bayside Inc provides accommodation and lifestyle services for people with an intellectual disability who live in or around Redland City. They assist people with a disability to live as independently as possible through a range of accommodation options and recreation and social opportunities.
Executive Manager, Craig Blackman shared his recent experiences with the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) process.
Share Bayside views the quality audit process as a positive process that adds to the better operation of the organisation. “The audit is one where we get to have someone independently check the work we are doing,” said Craig. “Any feedback on how we do things is greatly accepted and allows us to deliver even better systems and processes for the people we support, staff and the organisation as a whole.”
Preparing for audit
To prepare for the audit Craig undertakes a self-assessment process and ensures he examines key areas. A memo is sent out to staff to warm them up, provide timeframes for the audit, and allay any anxieties by reminding them of the positives.
Reviewing your policies and procedures is also important. “If your policies and procedures are good, that is a very sound foundation,” said Craig. Share Bayside has developed very good policies and procedures which have been informed by many years and experiences brought from previous organisations and feedback from previous audits. Speaking to auditors before they conduct the audit you may find out what they are currently focussing on so you can make some changes or highlight these areas in your self-assessment.
The audit process was fairly painless for Share Bayside and the auditors worked well with staff during the process. Craig assigns one person to look after auditors’ requests and then as Executive Manager he makes time to catch up with the auditors regularly throughout the process. And remember to tell them about the great things you do and the organisation’s achievements during the period.
Outcomes and results
“Over many years of being involved in audits I have seen numerous improvements across the board”, said Craig. “This is the best part - no matter how good you think you are, there is always room for improvement.”
“Doing audits means that things you say you do in policies and procedures get done. One thing I am very cautious of is ensuring that your policies and procedures are not too onerous or administrative. Make them simple, logical and easy to follow.”
Advice for organisations preparing for their first audit
The biggest challenge is developing a full suite of policies and procedures and going through the process for the first time. Craig’s tips are:
- See if you can borrow some policies and procedures from a similar organisation who has gone through the process or get someone to look through your policies and procedures.
- Make sure you do what you say you will do in your policies and procedures.
- Use a continuous improvement process and adjust and adapt your policies and procedures as you go.
- Have a systems improvement process that everyone can use and encourage staff and clients to raise matters which will inform appropriate changes to policy and procedures.
- Ensure staff take things seriously and do things the right way – in accordance with policy (particularly around WH&S issues in the workplace). There always seem to be those who want to do it their own way.
- People will have excuses for not doing things – it has to be part of their job and they need to know this. Ensure policies are mentioned in staff duties statements and include policy and procedures in your appraisal processes.