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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
1. Generic Competences

199 page PDF

1.4MB

1. Generic Competences

The following competences are generic competences for all advisers, and the agencies they work for, and which provide advice about housing issues and/or money related advice.

1.1 Effective Interviewing

Adviser Competence

Interviews clients effectively as part of holistic advice-giving. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Behaves in a welcoming manner and gives the client full attention
  • If interviewing by telephone, calls clients back immediately when telephoned
  • Explains service and own role to clients
  • Puts clients at ease, even when clients may be distressed or challenging
  • Enables clients to explain the problem and its context
  • Acknowledges clients' feelings and perception about the problem
  • Does not judge clients or their attitudes and values
  • Uses a rights-based perspective throughout the interview when exploring legal issues ( e.g. acts on clients' instructions and wishes and seeks to widen boundaries of entitlement)
  • Explores and explains options in debt cases
  • Explores fully and clarifies the presenting problem, and any other problems, the context and clients' feelings
  • Gathers relevant key information, such information being driven by the advice category
  • Rephrases any questions within forms in order to enable clients to provide more easily accurate and concise information which supports their case or provides relevant information which has not been sought via the questions on the form
  • Probes and follows communication cues to identify additional problems
  • Helps clients to identify key issues, priorities, goals and information needs
  • By use of appropriate language and non-verbal communication, demonstrates a sensitivity towards diversity, equality and discrimination issues, including cross-cultural and disability awareness
  • Identifies relevant dates and action taken on any problems so far
  • Explores clients' situation to identify any barriers to exercising rights or meeting commitments and liabilities
  • Identifies when an interview via trained interpreter is appropriate and able to meet these competences when using interpreter
  • Summarises actions to be taken, next steps and any follow up work. Explains boundaries and role of service. Agrees roles and responsibilities of adviser and client.
  • Closes interview in appropriate manner, agreeing future contact arrangements. Issues any standard paperwork ( e.g. consent to act for client)
  • Abides by agency confidentiality policy

For Types II and III

As for Type I plus:

  • Asks specific questions and probes surrounding facts to gather sufficient information from clients to undertake legal research ( i.e. a "diagnostic interview") and where appropriate offers a benefit check, where this is declined, it should be recorded clearly in the case notes
  • Identifies where information is insufficient for proper diagnosis and assists clients to gather further information or make appropriate referral
  • Checks clients' understanding of their responsibilities when using the service
  • Checks clients' understanding of advice given and action to be taken

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective interviewing. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Provides accessible interview facilities and adequate systems for responding to incoming telephone calls where premises allow
  • Has proformas or computer software for carrying out a benefit check
  • Has interview facilities which are adequately soundproofed, comfortable and pleasing
  • Where space allows, has suitable facilities for any children (toys, reading materials) who may accompany clients
  • Has arrangements for managing incoming enquiries/work
  • Facilitates or provides training and supervision arrangements which enable advisers to meet and maintain their competence in interviewing
  • Has arrangements for access to interpreters and facilities to enable interpreters to work effectively
  • Encourages an organisational culture which is based on respect for clients, non-judgementalism and an appropriate rights perspective
  • Has standard paperwork for initial interviews ( e.g. a leaflet explaining the service, consent to act forms)
  • Has a client confidentiality policy
  • Complies with data protection and health and safety requirements

1.2 Recording and Managing Casework

Adviser Competence

Records advice and advocacy effectively. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • On paper based systems: makes legible, succinct notes which enable other advisers, supervisors, auditors and clients to understand all key information in the case. These notes should include advice given; actions taken; copy of the benefit check if appropriate; roles and responsibilities and the outcome of the case. Case recording should also clearly set out the context of the advice given and actions taken i.e. in relation to the information provided by the client. Case recording should also provide evidence of 1.1 Effective Interviewing
  • On computer based systems: makes appropriate use of any agency computerised record system to make succinct notes which enable other advisers, supervisors, auditors and clients to understand all key information in the case. These notes should include advice given; where appropriate a copy of benefit check; actions taken; roles and responsibilities and the outcome of the case. Case recording should also clearly set out the context of the advice given and actions taken i.e. in relation to the information provided by the client. Case recording should also provide evidence of 1.1 Effective Interviewing
  • Records key social policy issues which arise in casework and complies with any agency system for actioning or recording these
  • Records/notes any agency statistics
  • Records/notes any deadlines/key dates (including any dates for follow up action)
  • Retains copies of any implementation plans given to clients
  • Where appropriate copies correspondence to clients
  • Makes copies of any relevant documents (including claim forms) and keeps with case records
  • Records outcomes of case
  • Communicate to client where no further action will be taken by the agency e.g. case closing procedure

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective recording. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Has adequate office facilities and user friendly guidelines and stationery
  • Provides access to photocopying facilities
  • Has sufficient access to computers for any computerised case recording system with suitable software
  • Provides adequate support/administrative staff to enable systems to minimise impact on adviser
  • Has a policy and training to enable adviser to record competently
  • Monitors to enable adviser to maintain adequate records
  • Has a procedure for case closure
  • Has a policy about access to records e.g. client agreement to case being audited; mandate or opt out box option
  • Uses systems for security and/or back-up of case records
  • Complies with relevant legislation ( e.g. data protection)

1.3 Time Management

Adviser Competence

Manages time effectively. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Ensures deadlines are met
  • Timeously informs service user of outcome
  • Prioritises work in an appropriate manner
  • Appropriately uses appointments with sufficient time to undertake the tasks associated with advice work
  • Where contractually required ( e.g. for Legal Aid), accurately records time spent on enquiries/cases

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective time management. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Facilitates or provides training and support where necessary to enable adviser to manage time effectively
  • Has operational systems to make effective use of adviser time which has a balanced approach taking account of time for case recording, case work and research
  • Has systems to manage incoming work including a balanced policy on appointments, drop-in and home visits, and which takes into consideration time required for case recording, casework and research
  • Where contractually required ( e.g. Legal Aid), has systems for recording time spent on enquiries/cases

1.4 Legal Research and Feedback

Adviser Competence

Undertakes legal research effectively. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Locates and retrieves information relevant to clients' enquiries
  • With support, locates and retrieves information relevant to clients' enquiries in a standard, current textbook and/or information system
  • Uses second tier advice and/or specialist services to help research the law
  • Diagnoses clients' legal position where possible and within the limitations of Type I advice
  • With advice and support from a Type II or III adviser, discusses options with clients
  • Identifies where urgent action is necessary including to meet time limits
  • Recognises need for more skilled advice or when cannot advise, for practical, legal or ethical reasons
  • Provides appropriate and sufficient information for clients and explains it clearly and accurately in a way they can understand
  • Helps clients to re-assess their situation and goals in the light of the information
  • Provides clients with sign-posting information

For Type II

As for Type I plus:

Undertakes legal research effectively. This includes evidence of the following:

  • Gathers and/or clarifies relevant facts by interview, telephone or e-mail with third parties
  • Researches relevant legislation and case law, government, regulatory and industry guidance and Codes of Practice, policy statements, etc
  • Assesses the chances of success of different options and provides feedback and advice about the possible options which arise
  • the advisor has an understanding of the legislation, case law etc
  • Discusses all options and their consequences with clients
  • Helps clients to assess the appropriateness of the options and to make an informed choice
  • Where clients are unable to make an informed choice advises, if possible, on gathering further information and further consideration of options
  • Checks clients' understanding of the advice given and where necessary, provides a written summary

For Type III

As for Types I and II plus:

  • Researches relevant legislation and procedural protocols for litigation

Agency Competence

Enables effective legal research. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Has adequate supplies of up-to-date handbooks and annotated legislation and other books or CD- ROM versions which are appropriate for the Type of advice work being undertaken
  • Has adequate Internet access
  • Provides access to any law reports, journals, articles, etc which are appropriate for the Type of advice work being undertaken
  • Has access to second tier and/or specialist advice
  • Has access to supervision which includes technical/legal advice and help (see Introduction to these competences)
  • Has arrangements for checking the quality of advice given and recorded
  • Promotes a working atmosphere which encourages careful legal research and provides good quality feedback

1.5 Form Completion

Adviser Competence

Effectively completes forms for all areas of advice. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Understands the purpose of each form and when it should be used
  • Uses a rights perspective when presenting evidence
  • Includes concise, relevant statements of evidence/information
  • Attaches additional relevant information/evidence where appropriate or required e.g.LILA
  • Ensures clients agree the information and how it is presented
  • Makes arrangements for follow-up of forms which are submitted
  • Checks accuracy of information on forms completed by third parties

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective form completion. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Has Internet access
  • Has information to enable correct forms to be obtained by advisers
  • Has arrangements for checking the quality of form completion

1.6 Effective and Appropriate Referrals

Adviser Competence

Recognises own and agency's limits and makes effective and appropriate referrals. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • With advice and support from a Type II or III adviser, recognises limits of expertise and accurately identifies when an internal or external referral may be needed
  • Gives clients all relevant information about possible referral to help them to decide whether it is appropriate
  • Gives clients any help needed to minimise any barriers to pursuing a referral
  • Makes referral to another agency which is better placed to deal with the matter after ascertaining availability of service, access times/arrangements, communicating with the other agency
  • Informs clients of likely costs or eligibility for help with costs if agency being referred to makes charges for services

For Types II and III

As for Type I plus:

  • Recognises cases which are either beyond the scope of the agency or which the adviser does not have sufficient knowledge and experience to advise about
  • Liaises with other agency to ensure a smooth transfer of the work
  • Supplies relevant factual details and documents

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective referrals. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Fosters an organisational culture which enables advisers to acknowledge limitations openly
  • Has information about other local and national agencies which may help
  • Has an internal and external referral procedure which includes feedback on.
  • Has regular contact and liaison with other advice agencies to improve knowledge of services they may offer
  • Has information on Legal Aid eligibility and possible contributions to costs

1.7 Negotiation/Advocacy

Adviser Competence

Negotiates when appropriate and effectively. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • With access to advice and support, intervenes on behalf of clients in less complex situations and with the person who can make decisions in the client's case

Types II and III

As For Type I plus:

  • Intervenes in more complex situations
  • Distinguishes when negotiation/advocacy is and is not appropriate
  • Distinguishes when negotiation/advocacy should be in writing or by phone and confirms verbal negotiations in writing
  • Uses an appropriate negotiation/advocacy technique or has had training or development in negotiation skills to secure best outcome for clients
  • Establishes effective communication channels through liaison with relevant bodies

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective negotiation/advocacy. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Has arrangements for advice and support to enable advisers to intervene in less complex situations

For Types II and III

As For Type I plus:

  • Has guidance, support and supervision arrangements so that other advisers can determine when negotiation/advocacy is appropriate
  • Provides support and help when negotiations/advocacy are unsatisfactory and to enable advisers to negotiate effectively
  • Has access to negotiation/advocacy skills training

1.8 Representation and Litigation

Adviser Competence

Represents and litigates effectively. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Not relevant

For Type II

  • Understands when a conflict of interest may arise and follows agency policy
  • Understands the role and ethics of advocacy in representation and litigation
  • Accurately judges when representation and/or litigation is an option for clients
  • Recognises when skilled legal help is required
  • Meets all deadlines involved in litigation and understand and uses any rules which allow litigation after a normal deadline
  • Understands the correct legal remedy(ies) for particular problems
  • Understands and explains any risks associated with litigation to clients
  • Uses the possibility of litigation to strengthen clients' position during negotiation

For Type III

As for Type II plus:

  • Undertakes representation at Court according to rights of audience, subject area of expertise and any local practices about representation
  • Undertakes representation at tribunals
  • Understands relevant Court rules, protocols and procedures and basic principles of rules of evidence ( e.g. hearsay)
  • Has impact and credibility as a representative because:
  • has a good knowledge of subject area
  • can show links with other relevant areas of law
  • has a good understanding of relevant evidence
  • retains objectivity
  • and presents the above in a structured, coherent and persuasive manner both in writing and orally
  • demonstrates an ability to "think on their feet" in a Court/litigation environment
  • Challenges negative decisions, actions or legal interpretation which may be adverse to clients
  • Is prepared to pursue an appeal/case to a conclusion where resources allow and where competent to do so

Note: Some Type III activities may only be performed by lawyers

Agency Competence

Provides the infrastructure for effective representation and litigation. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types II and III

  • Has a policy on managing conflicts of interest
  • Provides supervisory help and support when representation or litigation is complex
  • Provides access to sufficient specialist reference books
  • Uses second tier advice and advocacy where available and appropriate
  • Has regular contact and liaison with other advice agencies to improve knowledge of services they may offer
  • Provides access to training and development opportunities to enable advisers to develop and improve representational skills and to access sources of representation
  • Has administrative systems to enable key deadlines to be met and written submissions to be made
  • Has liaison arrangements with Courts, to resolve difficulties which may arise

1.9 Information Technology (in addition to where
covered above)

Adviser Competence

Makes effective use of information technology for advice and advocacy. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Provides more detailed and precise advice about future options e.g. better off calculation
  • Uses any case recording, social policy or debt advice software required by agency

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to make effective use of information technology. This includes evidence of the following:

  • Has sufficient access to computers with up-to-date, relevant software, Internet access and CD- ROMS (if the latter are used)
  • Provides access to relevant IT training and support
  • Has a policy on IT use

1.10 General Benefits Checking, Income Maximisation & Information Gathering

Adviser Competence

Undertakes a holistic assessment of benefits and tax credits and gathers relevant information in order to begin the process of income maximisation. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Asks questions to check which benefits and/or tax credits are being received
  • Identifies common situations where people may be able to receive a benefit or a higher rate of benefit
  • Identifies common changes of circumstances which can affect benefit entitlement
  • Identifies situations where urgent action is needed and ensures that appropriate action is taken
  • Identifies common situations where claiming may have adverse consequences ( e.g. if client or a family member is subject to immigration control) and seeks advice
  • In possible fraud cases, follows the agency's procedure
  • Identifies possible claims for backdating
  • Identifies need for other advice in other areas
  • Identifies social policy issues e.g. local office practice, implications of changes to the law
  • With advice, support and supervision, assists clients with claims for benefits and tax credits
  • Progress chases benefit and tax credits applications and payments

For Type II

As For Type I plus:

  • Has the skills and knowledge to access information on this topic in order to be able to respond to clients
  • With advice, support and supervision, writes straightforward letters of appeal, revision or supersession or completes appeal forms
  • After seeking advice, identifies cases for referral to a more specialist adviser
  • Collects information from client, social security/tax credit sources which enables an accurate, multiple benefit/tax credit check to be done manually or on computer and details kept on file. Assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the case, the potential outcomes and consequences of different strategies and reassesses these in the light of the facts, possible counter-arguments and time limits
  • Researches entitlement to benefits and higher amounts
  • Has a good working knowledge of changes of circumstances which affect benefit entitlement
  • Contacts benefit and tax credit offices by phone and letter

For Type III

As for Types I and II plus:

  • Writes detailed letters of appeal, revision and supersession

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to undertake holistic benefit/tax credit assessments. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Has pro-formas or computer software for carrying out a benefits/tax credits check
  • Has a policy on advising in cases of actual or suspected fraud
  • Participates in liaison arrangements between relevant agencies
  • Provides or facilitates supervision, training and updating on this topic which is appropriate to the Type of advice being given

Contact

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