Getting started with HSQF certification
The Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) is a system designed to assess and improve the quality of human services across Queensland. The HSQF incorporates a set of quality standards that cover the core elements of human service delivery.
To achieve certification, organisations must demonstrate compliance with the standards to an independent, third-party certification body.
Who does the HSQF apply to?
The HSQF applies to a range of human services organisations across Queensland, including:
- 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 by Queensland Health who have been advised that they may use the Human Services Quality Standards to meet Queensland Health quality certification requirements.
- 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 (CRC-PAS).
- Other organisations who apply to and are approved by the HSQF team.
- Organisations funded by the Queensland Government Department of Housing and Public Works who use a modified version of the standards for its Specialist Homelessness Services.
What are the benefits of HSQF certification?
Adoption of the standards, and subsequent HSQF certification, provides many benefits for both consumers and service providers.
Getting HSQF certified allows access to better, more reliable services, with a greater focus on individuals’ rights. It gives users confidence in a service provider’s systems, procedures and processes, and grants them the opportunity to contribute to service improvement.
From the service provider’s perspective, adherence to the standard will result in a reduction in administrative burden and compliance costs, helping to provide a clear and consistent framework for planning, operating and improving services.
The organisation’s processes are streamlined, and the service provider’s policies and procedures are strengthened, along with overall governance in the organisation. A holistic assessment of a service provider’s practices also assists in identifying areas for improvement, and consequently promoting continuous quality improvement within the organisation.
The main benefit to service providers, however, is it provides a stamp of quality from an independent, third-party certification body. A quality lens is used to review the organisation’s services in general and at every stage, from the consumer through to the CEO. The certification verifies the organisation as being capable of delivering a high-quality service to its target groups.
What are the Human Services Quality Standards?
Following an assessment process reviewing the performance of a service provider against the standards, a continuous improvement framework is implemented, which supports the participation of customers in quality improvement. By improving administrative efficiency, service providers can focus their time, effort and resources on service provision, and strive for continuous quality improvement.
Performance indicators are provided to explain what an organisation is required to demonstrate to meet the standard.
There are three methods of assessing and demonstrating compliance with the standards: certification against the HSQF; evidence of certification or accreditation against a set of industry standards under an alternative quality framework approved by the department; and self-assessment.
The standards set a benchmark for service provision and cover six core elements:
- Governance and management: sound governance and management systems designed to maximise outcomes for stakeholders.
- Services access: sound eligibility, entry and exit processes facilitate access to services on the basis of relative need and available resources.
- Responding to individual need: the assessed needs of the individual are appropriately addressed and responded to within resource capacity.
- Safety, wellbeing and rights: the safety, wellbeing and human and legal rights of those using services are protected and promoted.
- Feedback, complaints and appeals: effective feedback, complaints and appeals processes that lead to improvements in service delivery and promote a continuous quality improvement culture.
- Human resources: effective human resource management systems including recruitment, induction and supervisory processes, result in quality service provision.
Organisations must demonstrate their compliance with both the standards and the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019. It must be shown that the organisation’s service delivery and processes don’t limit any of the 23 human rights listed in the legislation.
How do I prepare for HSQF certification?
Before embarking on the certification process, service providers should look to familiarise themselves with the standards, as well as other available resources and tools, including the HSQF User Guide. It’s imperative that the requirements of the standards are understood at every level of the organisation.
Organisations should then attempt to align themselves with the standards as much as possible, and ensure they demonstrate compliance against all relevant sections. The standards, User Guide and other resources are freely available via the Queensland Government website.
What is the HSQF certification process?
Initial HSQF certification consists of two separate audits; Stages 1 and 2.
Stage 1 of the HSQF process consists of a gap assessment. This is a self-assessment designed to review the organisation’s policies, procedures and general governance. The organisation’s chosen auditor will review the evidence submitted to identify gaps and improvement actions and to evaluate its readiness for the Stage 2 audit.
Stage 2 is a full, in-depth audit of the organisation against all six standards, and usually occurs twelve to eighteen months after commencing the certification process. This allows the organisation sufficient time to develop its policies and procedures, and rectify/action any gaps or improvement opportunities identified in the gap assessment. Eighteen months after achieving certification, the organisation is subjected to maintenance checks against four of the six HSQF standards.
Find out about the entire certification process here.
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Interested in completing your HSQF certification with QIP Certifications or just looking for some more info? Get in touch with our team.