North West Parents and Friends Association (NWPFA)

North West Parents and Friends Association (NWPFA) is a voluntary Organisation providing person centred services for children and adults with special needs and their families in the West of Ireland.

We work towards the fulfilment, needs and rights of people with intellectual disabilities and special needs, to achieve for each individual, the greatest possible level of health and social gain, bearing in mind at all times, the personal dignity of each individual.

In 2011 the Board of Directors decided to embrace a quality standard and in conjunction with the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI). With the assistance of the DFI’s licensed quality standard Mentor Dermot O’Donnell, we commenced working towards implementing Level 1 of the PQASSO Quality Management Standard (QMS) in November of that year.  We successfully achieved our accreditation in July 2016.

In early 2019 prior to the expiration of the PQASSO license period, the Board and Management undertook the task of deciding whether they would continue with the PQASSO Standard or explore whether other standards might be more appropriate to NWPFA. Following this process, the Board of Directors selected the “Improving Quality” (IQ) Standard, as they considered it to be:

  • User Friendly.
  • Well aligned to the Principles and Standards of the Irish Charities Regulator’s mandatory Charities Governance Code.
  • Clear and simple in Structure to understand and implement i.e. its four “Elements”-Accountable; Welcoming; Effective and Sustainable.

In March 2019, NWPFA established an “IQ Quality Committee” to lead and oversee the implementation of the IQ Standard at Foundation Level in the organisation.  This was conducted by Self-Assessing against all of “Requirements” in each of the four Elements of IQ. This exercise was completed in September 2019 when we applied for External Assessment and submitted our evidence and workbook via “IQ Dropbox”.

Our Site Visit took place in October 2019 where interviews and visits to our different Centres took place and further documentation requested.  This Assessment was both rigorous and structured but the Assessor was very flexible and made all our Interviewees feel very comfortable during the Assessment. The Assessment was based on interviews, evidence gathered and observations in each Element of the Standard. The closing Meeting at the end of the Site Visit was very positive.  Our Draft Report was received within one week of the termination of the Site Visit.  We would like to acknowledge the support we received from our colleague in DFI in helping us prepare for this undertaking. 

We are delighted to be the first organisation in the Republic of Ireland to be IQ accredited.  Our certificate was presented to us at the annual SOLA Symposium in the University of Limerick on the 6th December 2019. 

Concurrent with implementing IQ, we were also in the process of embedding the HSE Report “New Directions – Personal Support Services for Adults with Disabilities” in NWPFA. The discipline gained from Self-Assessing against the four Elements of IQ within our Day Services, greatly helped us when completing our EASI Tool for the HSE.

As our Service Users are the most important Stakeholders in our Organisation, it was a very important piece of work to develop an “Easy to Read” version of the Assessment Report to share with our Service Users.  We are grateful to Community Matters Yorkshire for their kind assistance in developing this Document.

After receiving our certificate of Accreditation, we feel confident that we are compliant with the “Charities Governance Code”, “Implementation of New Directions” and meet all the legal obligations and regulations required of Charitable Organisations in the Republic of Ireland.

Women’s Lives Leeds

Although Women’s Lives Leeds(WLL) is not a formally constituted organisation, it is lead and overseen by a partnership of eleven Chief Officers (which could be seen as the Trustees) who are the accountable body. They work within a partnership agreement, which is similar to a constitution and sets out purpose, aims and objectives, how the partnership will function and how decisions are made and recorded.

To test the WLL Partnership and Project Arrangements/Agreements, to help in the design of and to see if the Improving Quality Standard is appropriate for such partnership arrangements WLL agreed to be one of the pilots to go through the award.

As a Project Manager who has experience of going through IIP and PQASSO I found the Improving Quality award much easier to follow as it focussed on what I think the most important areas in terms of having the fundamental policies and procedures in place namely: accountability; (leadership and management) Welcoming; (staff, service user involvement and support) Effective; (service delivery and monitoring it) Sustainable; (budgets and money).

Improving Quality proved to be less time consuming, especially when running a multi-faceted project and more effective in terms of knowing if WLL had firm foundations and what our strengths and improvements were. What made the difference to was that I could do all of the evidence gathering electronically and submission on-line, which is my preferred way of working.

The Improving Quality team offered support throughout the process and took feedback in terms of partnership arrangements, to help improve the award to make it more fit for partnership/consortiums.

We experienced a level of flexibility on assessment day that clearly demonstrated that the assessor understood the complexities of a partnership overseeing and delivering a project that had delivery and staff based across the city. Our assessment preparation took one day and the assessment took one day too.

As with all Quality Assurance awards its also about what next and what you do between review dates.

Due to the nature of the simplicity of Improving Quality, it is much easier to use as a development tool and I have since used it in support of a review of all policies and procedures, which took place in February 2019.

Jeannette Morris-Boam
Women’s Lives Leeds Project Manager