Anglicare Southern Queensland is an Anglican not-for-profit organisation committed to social and community welfare issues and aged and community care needs, focusing on disadvantaged members of our community. They provide more than 150 different services across Southern Queensland.
Peter Last, Manager Quality, Learning and Workforce Development shared his experiences with the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) process.
What were your feelings and fears as your audit approached and were these fears reflected in your actual experience?
Staff were nervous they would say or do the wrong thing. There was some uncertainty about the actual requirements that would be needed to meet the standards. Can we ‘prove’ we are doing what we say we are? What if we fail? What will be the consequences - will I be held responsible? What support will I get? How long will it take and how can I fit this in to my usual workload?
These fears were not realised because I could find the information to support our work. The auditors were very nice and worked well with the staff. The audit was about process and not about finding fault with staff. The auditors focused more on the quality of care and I could see how it would improve our care.
How did you prepare for audit?
I worked with the quality team to undertake a formal self-assessment audit against the HSQF standards. We used a self-assessment audit tool which resulted in an Action Plan. We had to do some work before the audit so we could prove we were following the organisation’s policies and procedures to the letter. Pre-audit preparation also included ‘mock’ interviews with staff.
What challenges did you face?
Finding time to prepare for audits in addition to routine workloads was the biggest challenge. This was assisted by the support from the quality team. Some staff did not understand the process and were nervous – the ‘mock’ interviews helped.
What was the audit process like?
Two auditors came to the service for a couple of days. They looked at client files, interviewed staff and management and reviewed policies, procedures, complaints and compliments and incident information. They also checked to see if all ‘statutory’ requirements were being met. Overall I would say it was a positive experience.
What service improvements have you seen as a result of going through auditing?
We’ve seen improvements in client file documentation and follow up of changes in client conditions or needs as well as better systems of compliance and understanding of policy and procedure. Following audit there were only minor changes required to ensure our policies and procedures reflected current legislation and best practice.
What advice would you give to organisations who are preparing for their first audit?
Develop audit tools and complete the internal audits well in advance of the formal audit. Prepare action plans and follow-up the agreed actions.
Work with all levels of staff to prepare, this includes workers, management and executive. Reinforce that it is a process audit and not related to individual performance, however ensure staff know it is a team effort to pass.
Report to the executive any findings from the internal audit which may require additional resources. Ensure there are no ‘surprises’ at a service and organisational level.