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  Alternatives Pty Ltd
  ABN 23 050 334 435

Contents | 1. Introduction | 2. QI Maze | 3. Principles | 4. Tools | 5. Resources

3. Core principles and processes

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:

  • providing quality services
  • continually improving the quality of services

Building organisational culture

This will require an organisational culture where mistakes are seen as opportunities for improvement rather than punishment.

Customer/client focus

Human service organisations exist to meet clients need. The work of the organisation needs to be focused on:

  • Client needs identified and understood
  • Client choices identified and communicated
  • Effective services - clients getting results.

Process approach

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:

  • Describing the process
  • Monitoring the process
  • Using feedback data to improve the process.

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.