There are many approaches to quality improvement. Some of the core principles and processes are outlined below.
Quality improvement originated in manufacturing. There are many issues to be considered in implementing quality improvement in human services. Some of the are discussed in the section on The Essence of Evaluation.
The notes below highlight core principles and processes of continuous quality improvement (not the challenges that arise when implementing them in human services).
Building organisational commitment to quality - leadership
Everyone in the organisation needs to be committed to:
Building organisational culture
This will require an organisational culture where mistakes are seen as opportunities for improvement rather than punishment.
Human service organisations exist to meet clients need. The work of the organisation needs to be focused on:
Quality improvement is based on the assumption that processes can be described, monitored and improved based on feedback.
In human services, service processes are core process. There are many other processes - payroll, data collection systems, staff training and development, etc.
Count and measure the processes
Data will be gathered to monitor the process.
Using feedback to improve processes
Data gathered (and analysed) about the process needs to be used as feedback to improve the process.
Get staff involved in the processes of improving quality
All staff need to be involved in the processes of:
Identify defects in quality and trace them to their source
Where there are 'defects in quality' (eg inappropriate client services, a client complaint) a continuous improvement approach will analyse the process that led to the defect so the process can be modified so that similar defects will not arise in the future.
Improve coordination and collaboration between different functions in the organisation
There are many differerent functions and processes in organisations. From the perspective of the client there is one process. For a client to receive the best quality service the organisation's functions and processes will need to be coordinated so that the client receives the best possible holistic integrated service.
Work closely with referral agencies and other suppliers
Human services are parts of human service networks. A quality service will only be a quality service if it is part of a quality human services network.