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Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009

Published: 8 Oct 2010
Part of:
Law and order
ISBN:
978 0 7559 8143 4

Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009

199 page PDF

1.4MB

199 page PDF

1.4MB

Contents
Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009
4. Standards for Providing the Service

199 page PDF

1.4MB

4. Standards for Providing the Service

Services operating to these Standards must have processes that ensure an effective and efficient service for their users.

Standard 4.1

All service providers must provide an independent and impartial service that can represent the interests of its service users.

Service users should have confidence that the service provider is acting in the interests of service users and not for the advantage of the agency itself or for some other third party. Where this is not possible, for example, where the service provider is a local authority and unable to advise the service user to take action against the local authority, the service user should be advised of alternative sources of help. All service providers must be able to identify conflicts of interest and have procedures in place for managing them.

Service providers have a duty to disclose any illegal activity.

Indicators for Type I, Type II and Type III

Service providers should be able to demonstrate that they are placing the interests of the service user before their own or a third party's interests; this includes a conflict of interest where different family members require advice.

Services should have a written policy and staff training. Where the service provider may be providing a service that places their own agency or other third parties' interests above the service user's interests, the service should be able to demonstrate that the service user is made aware of these constraints and that alternative, independent sources of help are sign-posted.

*Member of the main advice networks ( CAS, DIAL UK, Advice UK, Shelter, SAIF)

Standard 4.2

All services must have arrangements to ensure that their service has access to up to date reference materials and appropriate journals.

Good information and advice is based upon the adviser's ability to readily access up to date and accurate information.

Indicators for Type I, Type II and Type III

All information and advice providers should have up to date reference materials and journals relevant to the service that they provide.

A separate and adequate budget should be maintained for this purpose.

All services should clearly designate responsibility for maintaining and updating information within their Services Plan.

* CAS Membership Conditions

Standard 4.3

All service providers must maintain regular contact and liaison with other providers in their locality. Referral agreements must be established between agencies to ensure that service users receive a consistent and seamless service.

The provision of good quality information and advice is not the responsibility of any single service. In any given locality there will be a range of providers meeting different needs. Liaison and regular contact are essential to ensure that all people within the community have access to good quality services.

Indicators for Type I

Service providers should be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of other relevant service providers in their locality.

A directory with contacts of relevant service providers should be maintained by the service and updated no less than once every twelve months.

* CAS Membership Conditions

Indicators for Type II and Type III

Service providers should be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of other relevant service providers in their locality.

A directory with contact of relevant service providers should be maintained by the service and updated no less than once every twelve months.

Formal referral agreements should be established between service providers and referral of service users between providers should be subject to the terms of these agreements. Formal referral agreements should include:

  • how the referral will be made, including that it is to a named individual and the date of any appointment;
  • grounds for acceptance or rejection;
  • acceptable timescales for referral;
  • the respective responsibilities of referrer and referee;
  • any information the referring body can expect at the end of a particular case; and
  • the right of the individual to return to the agency if they are not satisfied with the referral.

It should be noted that referral may be into or out of an agency.

* CAS Membership Conditions

Agencies should have clear selection criteria for referrals to other agencies, where possible the agency should consult with the service user, and in complex cases provide written instructions to the referral body.

Standard 4.4

Type II and Type III services must have systems that ensure that service user information and case files are well organised.

In order to ensure that information can be accessed quickly and easily by all of those involved in delivering the service it is important that records are stored in an organised way.

Indicators for Type I

This Standard does not apply to those services providing only Type I services.

Indicators for Type II and Type III

Service providers will be expected to have a case management system that:

  • can identify and trace all documents and correspondence relating to a case;
  • identifies any conflict of interest;
  • records centrally any key dates in cases (for example, expiry of a time limit) to ensure that action is taken by the adviser or, in their absence, by the service in appropriate time;
  • ensures that casework is kept in a way that the records are clear to another caseworker;
  • records the advice that has been provided to ensure that the status of a file and any action taken can be easily verified;
  • ensures that there is proper authorisation and monitoring of undertaking given on behalf of the service provider; and
  • can generate data that allows for monitoring the number of cases, time spent and type of case undertaken by each adviser to ensure that they are within their capacity.

Standard 4.5

Type II and Type III services must have a casework procedure that can be applied consistently to all service users.

Systematic casework procedures ensure a consistent service to all users to ensure that the service user is kept involved and informed during the progress of their case.

Indicators for Type I

This Standard does not apply to those services providing only Type I services.

Indicators for Type II and Type III

The procedures should cover the three phases of the case: the outset, progressing the case and closing the case.

At the outset of a case procedures should identify:

  • the requirements of the client;
  • what action is to be taken;
  • if someone is to be responsible for the case who this will be;
  • key dates in the matter;
  • any expectations of the service provider on the user of service (for example, any fees that may be charged including disbursements, commissions, and so on); and
  • management information relevant to the service (such as clients' ethnic origin, housing tenure).

and will ensure, in progressing casework, that:

  • if the case is complex a case plan will be prepared;
  • information on progress is passed to the user of service at appropriate intervals; and
  • information on any changes is communicated promptly to the user of service.

and at the end of a case will:

  • report and confirm in writing to the service user on the outcome, explaining any action the user of service should now take; and
  • return to the user of service any original documentation except where the user of service has agreed that the agency should maintain this information. In this case, the user of service should be informed of storage arrangements and how they can access this information.

Standard 4.6

Type II and Type III services must ensure that the casework files of individual advisers are subject to suitably qualified, independent review.

Independent review enables services to test the quality of advice and advice procedures to enable them to identify strengths, deficiencies and individual training needs. This Standard should be read in conjunction with Standard 5.6 that specifies the competency requirements of advice work supervisors.

Indicators for Type I

This Standard does not apply to those services providing only Type I services.

Indicators for Type II and Type III

Service providers should have arrangements for case files to be reviewed by a supervisor or other adviser under the control of the supervisor who has not been involved in the day to day conduct of the case.

These procedures should ensure that:

  • samples of work are reviewed to ensure quality of advice and adherence to the service's procedures; and
  • the number of cases, time spent and type of case undertaken by each adviser are within their capacity.

The file review policy should be written as a plan for undertaking internal reviews and should include:

  • responsibility for undertaking file reviews;
  • the frequency of such reviews;
  • a record of the outcomes of reviews; and
  • a record of any corrective action taken.

Standard 4.7

All service providers must have robust means of recording service wide activity and service use.

The recording of service use and activity provides essential management information to inform the review of service and assist the planner of the service to assess how far the service objectives are being met.

Indicators for Type I

As a minimum, service providers should gather the following data on service users:

  • the location of the service user's home (e.g first part of post-code and/or ward of residence);
  • gender;
  • age; and
  • ethnic origin.

In addition, whilst it is not a requirement of this Standard consideration should also be given by Type I agencies to routinely or systematically gathering data on service users against the other equality groups not included above for which there is legal protection against discrimination in the provision of services:

  • Disability
  • Faith
  • Sexuality

* CAS Membership Conditions

Indicators for Type II and Type III

As a minimum, service providers should gather the following data on service users:

  • the location of the service user's home;
  • gender;
  • age;
  • family composition;
  • employment type;
  • housing tenure;
  • ethnic origin;
  • disability;
  • income

For agencies providing a money advice service, the amount of debt dealt with, split by type of debt

For agencies providing a money advice service, the debt strategy chosen by the client

In addition, whilst it is not a requirement of this Standard consideration should also be given by Type II and Type III agencies to routinely gathering data on service users against the other equality groups not included above for which there is legal protection against discrimination in the provision of services:

  • Faith
  • Sexuality

As a minimum service providers should gather activity data on the following:

  • Type I, Type II and Type III (where appropriate) interventions by topic. This should include a breakdown by time spent in client contact to follow-up work.

This should specify the count by either the number of service users, the number of cases and/or the number of episodes of advice.


Contact

Email: ceu@gov.scot Phone: 0300 244 4000 Post: Central Enquiry Unit
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG