Effective management of quality systems is a three-tiered process involving processes, procedures and people who are responsible to implement these. Implementing, managing and regularly reviewing quality systems allows organisations to be more efficient in managing staff time, providing current up-to-date service delivery to clients and maintaining legislative requirements.
Implementing these systems impacts every aspect of organisational performance from board and management processes through to client access, satisfaction and outcomes. Outcomes of an effective and reviewed system can include:
- Better service delivery to clients
- Clear organisational direction
- Clear understanding of policy, process and responsibilities for whole of organisation
- Implemented and utilised systems as every day to day tasks saves time
- Improved processes
- Lowering costs
- Lower risks to the organisation
There are a number of quality standards that the community services sector may have to adhere to, such as:
Human Services Quality Framework is the quality assurance framework for assessing and promoting improvement in the quality of human services.
The National Quality Framework (NQF) provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement for early childhood.
The NDIS Practice Standards specify the quality standards to be met by registered NDIS providers to provide supports and services to NDIS participants.
Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF)
The Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) is Queensland’s Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors system for assessing and promoting improvement in the quality of human services.
The Human Services Quality Framework describes how the HSQF applies to in-scope organisations and services. An updated version of the Quality Framework Quality FrameworkVersion 6.0 commenced from 1 January 2020.
Who is required to participate in the HSQF process?
The HSQF applies to:
- organisations funded to deliver human services under service agreements, or other specified arrangements, with the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women
- organisations funded to deliver child protection placement services in-scope of licensing under an Individual Client Service agreement with DCSYW Child Related Costs Placement and Support
- organisations funded by Queensland Health that have been advised by Queensland Health that they can use HSQF to meet quality requirements.
The amount of funding your organisation receives will determine which process you will need to comply with.
- $0 – $24,000 per year – no requirement to complete HSQF
- $24,000 – $257,000 – Self Assessment and Continuous Improvement plan only
- $257,000 and more – Certification with an external audit
Auditors fees are at the cost of the organisation, however, for some circumstances, subsidies may be applied for to assist with the cost of this. A list of approved auditors are available on the Department of Communities website.
Where to find support for HSQF
The Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors website provides information and factsheets on the steps to implement and maintain quality service systems that meet HSQF compliance. It has provides the latest information in the news and updates section of its website.
The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) provides a range of supports to assist the sector to implement the HSQF, primarily organisations funded under the Community Services and Child and Family funding streams that are transitioning to the HSQF for the first time.
Free QCOSS support includes:
One-on-one or small group support – to assist organisations that are new to HSQF to implement a quality system and prepare for their quality assessment activities. Organisations can contact QCOSS for support or be referred by their departmental contract officer. Apply for support here or call the switchboard on 07 3004 6900.
Policy templates and supporting documents have been developed by QCOSS to assist organisations with implementing the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF). The templates provide a way for organisations to check whether their existing policies and procedures meet all the criteria of the standards or to draft new policies and procedures if needed. You can access the templates here.
A HSQF online learning course on the Community Door eTraining website (you need to register for an account to access this free course).
Quality Collaboration Network (QCN)
QCOSS regularly convenes the Quality Collaboration Network (QCN) – to enhance best practice within the sector in relation to quality. The QCN meets the third Wednesday of every month (February to November) at 9:30am to 11:30am. The network is a joint initiative of QCOSS, quality professionals and the human services sector with the aim of:
- enhancing collaborative practice;
- providing feedback to the Queensland Government’s HSQF team;
- sharing information, resources and learning; and
- providing feedback on implementation issues from a sector perspective to the Queensland Government’s HSQF team.
HSQF stories from the sector
In a series of videos we spoke to community organisations Gailes Community House and Mununjali to discuss their experiences of implementing HSQF. We asked them how the HSQF experience was for them.
Did you find any opportunities for improvement throughout the process?
What resources would you recommend for supporting you through HSQF?
Do you have any tips and tricks of the HSQF process to share with other services?
HSQF survey feedback
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), on behalf of the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors (DCDSS) and the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (DCSYW), invited organisations to participate in a survey on their experience of the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) and how they think it could be improved.
The purpose of the survey was to gain feedback regarding current resources and support, the benefits and challenges of implementing the HSQF and how HSQF could be improved in the future. The survey could be completed anonymously or organisations could opt to provide their name and contact details.
Feedback from the survey suggests significant positive outcomes have been achieved through the implementation of the HSQF. It is also clear that there are improvement opportunities to ensure that HSQF continues to fulfil its promise to provide a workable continuous improvement framework for Queensland community services.