Published: 26 Nov 2019

Himu Gupta, CQP MCQI, an Independent Consultant and Trainer in quality control and quality assurance, explores the ways quality management can be improved in social care.

More and more social care agencies are investing in the development and implementation of a quality management system. They are aiming to achieve best value in service delivery and provide an ethical framework.

To achieve good quality care that is client centred and focuses on the outcome, it is essential for management to adopt a culture of transparency and openness for clients, staff, stakeholders and other service providers.

This facilitative style of management can only be successful when the decision-making process is clearly and succinctly documented and communicated to staff, clients and to other parties involved. Standards set must be measurable and there must be regular auditing of outcomes to quicken the process of continuous improvement. 

Positive culture

A positive culture within an organisation can lead to its employees delivering a high quality service to the customers.

Imagination should be encouraged in the workforce to achieve a positive culture. This should be supported by professional training and a clear understanding of the organisation’s standards and values.

Maximising resources is also essential to creating a positive culture. It is important to ensure that existing resources are used effectively. Managers in social care should also be allowed to exercise flexibility to meet the needs of customers and service users.

Consulting with staff about decisions made by the organisation will encourage employees to listen and respond to management and aids transparency at all levels.

Staff should also be made to feel proud of their organisation by making them feel valued and comfortable in their own setting. Managers should take all the opportunities to praise their staff and publicise what they do ­– not only the successes but also the way in which difficult situations have been dealt with. 

Quality focus

Objectives for organisations looking to develop quality include:

  • Creating a client focused service;
  • Delivering a prompt and appropriate response to clients’ requests;
  • Operating the most appropriate service that satisfies the needs of clients, by involving them in the decision-making process;
  • Using the resources you have in an effective and imaginative way for the benefit of your clients.

Key questions that organisations should be asking themselves are:

  • Are we clear about the purpose of the service we provide? 
  • Are we getting the right information to help us plan properly? 
  • Are we supplying the right services to the right people in the right way? 
  • How do we know what people think about the service we provide? 
  • Are we using the resources in the most effective way?

Procedures and documentation have a very important place in any quality system, but these alone will not achieve good outcomes. If too much emphasis is placed on paperwork, then the whole system will become mechanistic to the detriment of good practice. Good outcomes reflect the practice of the organisation. A well-balanced quality system, which gives credence to procedures, documentation and good practice, will become a facilitative system.