“At one stage a member of staff walked into the lounge where we were talking privately with the person and she just came and sat on the coffee table. We kindly asked her to leave."
Stephen Merriman is talking about his experience working as a Quality Checker – one of 30 people with learning disabilities Choice Support employs to monitor services. He and his colleagues bring a uniquely informed perspective to their work, because they all have first-hand experience of services. As our Managing Director Sarah Maguire says: “Quality Checkers see things that the rest of us miss.”
“At Choice Support we’ve been employing Quality Checkers since 2006 and have seen time and again the value of bringing the voice of experience into monitoring services.” Sarah Maguire, Managing Director
Quality Checkers visit the homes of other people with learning disabilities that we support. They ask a series of questions to find out how happy people are with their everyday lives and our support. Quality Checkers also speak to family members, and use other communication methods and observational skills to gather information, so that people who don’t use verbal communication are included. A full report of the check then goes to the person, their staff and senior manager and also to Choice Support’s Trustees.
Being a Quality Checker is all about listening and observing. One of Stephen’s colleagues, Laura Minett, says:
"We like to think that when we carry out a quality check we come over as friendly and positive. This is so the people we are speaking to have a good experience and know that we are listening to them. We have made a pack of different signs, photos and pictures that we use to help people who don't communicate with words let us know their views."
Stephen, Laura and the other Quality Checkers have made a real impact on how we work at Choice Support, both organisationally and at individual service level. For example, as a result of Quality Checker's proposals:
And as Stephen says, the Quality Checkers themselves get a lot out of it too:
"We learn a lot ourselves in the job. The pay's not bad either. But seriously, though, it feels good to know that we are making a difference in making things better for people."
In 2006 we became one of the first organisations in England to train and employ Quality Checkers. Since then, as well as continuing to employ and manage our own team we have helped promote Quality Checkers across the country:
We offer Quality Checker training in England, Scotland and Wales. A Quality Checker and a co-trainer will deliver a three day training course on all you need to become a Quality Checker in your organisation. We also offer mentoring and advice following training.
Feedback on our Quality Checker training:
"The content was really informative and I enjoyed the practical top-tips; exploring ideas and approaches helped us think through how we can get it right" (Cymryd Rhan, Wales)
"This is the best thing I have ever done" (Aberdeen City Council)
Our expertise at Quality Checking was recognised in 2010 when the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care services, commissioned us to recruit, train and manage Experts by Experience. Working on the same principle as Quality Checkers, Experts by Experience are people with direct experience of using health and social care services, who take part in CQC inspection and monitoring activity.
Choice Support sponsors and helped set up the Association of Quality Checkers (AQC), a not-for-profit membership association for disability organisations providing quality checking services. Four Choice Support employees including Quality Checkers serve on the AQC’s voluntary board.
Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about Quality Checkers, or would like to book Quality Checker training for your organisation.
or telephone: 0207 261 4100