Find out how the shared Network Quality Framework is shaping up at our upcoming webinar!

Join our free webinar on 25 November to find out how the shared Network Quality Framework is shaping up!

Over the past few months, the Age UK Quality team has been working with local and national partners to develop different aspects of the Age UK quality framework. The framework will apply to all members of the Age UK network (Age UK, national partners, and local partners) and its development is part of the joint Age UK / AEA quality review process which also feeds into the Services for Older People Committee (SOPC).

We will be holding a webinar from 10:00 – 11:30 on Thursday 25 November to provide a demo of the work that’s been developed by Communities of Interest over the summer; describe how they all fit together and into the quality framework; discuss next steps; and invite you to participate in further development and testing.

To sign up to the webinar, click here. We will send you joining instructions the week before the webinar.

To see more about the work that’s been taking place, visit our Quality Hub.

Information & Advice Quality Programme – common areas identified for improvement

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation Team have identified some common areas for improvement across the advice sector. Find the most recent trends below.

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation Team regularly review areas of compliance with the I&A Quality benchmarks, so that we can share learning across the network. We have found that the most common areas identified for improvement are similar to those identified across the independent advice sector as a whole and are important elements of quality assurance. Read on to view the most recent trends.

Most common areas of non-compliance for Quality of Advice

  • Lack of sufficient relevant information gathered to give correct advice
  • Insufficient advice recorded or incomplete advice given e.g. no means-tested benefits check when disability benefits awarded
  • Limited use of Factsheets and Information Guides to back up advice given
What can be done to avoid these?

Training in case-recording and/or the key Age UK topic areas of benefits and community care can help ensure your clients are getting the correct advice – further details can be found on the loop here.

Most common areas of non-compliance for Service Management

  1. Data Protection / Client confidentiality e.g. lack of consent or secure storage of client data
  2. Not recording sufficient client details for information enquiries (leading to under- reporting of work, clients needing to repeat their story on returning)
  3. Lack of Technical Supervision of advisors (usually of the Manager), including regular file checking to ensure accurate advice is given
  4. Lack of planning for a sustainable service
What can be done to avoid these?
  1. Ensure you have evidence of the clients’ consent to process their data, including to store it, share it with third parties, and share it with Age UK for quality audit. Ensure you record and date consent on the client record.

Please Note: legitimate interests as a basis for processing the data should not be used for special category data (i.e. personal sensitive data e.g. health, politics, ethnicity, religion). The ICO sets a higher bar for the way this data is handled, as it could create a higher risk of, for instance, unlawful discrimination. Consent is the best way to treat this type of data, as it is most transparent and simple.

The GDPR Toolkit on the loop can be found here.

  1. Ensure all staff providing I&A are aware of your procedures for recording information enquiries. This helps ensure the client does not have to keep repeating their “story”, and ensures you are not under-recording your work and reach. Enquiries should not routinely be recorded as “Anonymous” – only if consent is not given, or for very simple enquiries.
  2. Ensure you have procedures for both regularly checking the accuracy of advice and that your case management procedures are being followed, as well as the more in depth file reviews (IFRs) carried out less frequently. Ensure these include the advice carried out by the Supervisor or Manager). This is even more important when staff are working remotely or from home.
  3. Ensure the current year 12 month plan and budget is regularly reviewed. A short outline plan for the following 2 years is needed – it does not need to be in detail but should include an outline plan for a sustainable service.

Update on Charity Quality Standard (CQS) developments

An update on Charity Quality Standard developments, including the formation of a Quality Review Group and assessment changes.

As you may have seen in the NDP papers, Age UK and the AEA are currently working together to review the Age UK quality standards and develop a comprehensive quality framework to underpin the new partnership agreement. We have formed a joint Quality Review Group and are currently working with partners to review the future shape of the CQS. We’ve taken on board your feedback and while we anticipate that the topic areas covered by the CQS will remain much the same, we’re planning to move away from a document heavy assessment that encourages ‘audit cram’ and develop a more continuous improvement approach.

The review process will continue into this year and that means that CQS certification for some partners will lapse before the next assessment cycle begins. We have therefore been working with partners to develop a simple self-assessment that will cover the intervening period and allow us to extend certification.

If your certification has already lapsed or is likely to lapse this year, we will be in touch to tell you more about the self-assessment process. We are about to test this out with a small group of partners so if you’d like to be involved, please contact Heather Stephenson.

We will continue our work to develop the new approach to CQS assessment and will be looking for partners to pilot this with us later in the year (around September time) so if you’d be interested in finding out more, please contact Heather Stephenson as it would be great to have you on board!