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sonya quality checker

In the UK, health and care services are inspected by government-appointed regulators to ensure a quality service.

But what would happen if individuals who live in those services inspected their own services, too?

That’s exactly what we do at Lifeways. As an organisation, our aim is to have a Quality Checker assessing the quality of the service we provide for every person we support.

And as Lifeways continues to ramp up this initiative, individuals we support have started carrying out their assessments.

What does a Quality Checker do?

After receiving support, training and development, and working in coordination with Lifeways’ wider quality team, each Quality Checker works through our co-produced checklist.

The checklist includes sections about what the people we support have told us makes a good life, particularly around the standard of support received, the individual’s home, their support team, and observations about general quality standards in the service.

Questions include:

  • Are you supported to maintain contact with those important to you?
  • Do repairs in your home get done quickly?
  • Are you involved in choosing your own support team?
  • Have you been asked and helped to write or get involved in your support plan?

Lifeways’ wider quality team then analyses the results of the checks made, and follows up with the Quality Checker to make sure any desired changes are made, where appropriate.

How the Quality Checker role changed during the pandemic

Before the pandemic, a cohort of Quality Checkers would travel to people’s homes, carrying out checks.

Jonathon, a Quality Checker who lives our supported living service in Leyland, Lancashire, sits with Nicola to go through the quality checking process.

However, when the pandemic began, Jodie Allen-Cawley, Lifeways’ Group Lead Quality Manager, saw the opportunity to dramatically increase the level of quality checking – instead of scaling it back.

“We wanted to dream big with our ambassadors – people we support – for our bold ambition to have a Quality Checker in the home of every person we support, for our own auditors to link with and to capture the voices of people who are experts by experience on the support we provide,” says Jodie.

“This new approach is more inclusive,” Jodie adds. “Everyone gets the opportunity to be a Quality Checker, and to  influence both local and wider organisational change.” 

“What’s next is to reach our goal of having a Quality Checker at every single Lifeways service – and with 1,500 services, that’s an ambitious goal!”

‘Safe and happy’

Sonya, who can be seen in the picture at the top of the article, is a Quality Checker and an individual we support at Abingdon, a Lifeways residential service in Southport. She says she enjoys the role.

“Being a Quality Checker helps me to help other people who live here,” says Sonya. “To keep it safe, happy and to make it like a family.”

The Quality Checker checklist toolkits and training were co-produced by our Quality Checkers and central quality team.

What is co-production and why does it matter?

Co-production refers to a way of collaborative working at Lifeways. This means that everybody in a service – including individuals who receive support, support workers, and family members – works together on an equal basis to make sure everyone has an equal voice, or come to a decision which works for everybody involved.

The Think Local Act Personal national partnership, of which Lifeways is a member, calls co-production a ‘meeting of minds coming together to find shared solutions.’

Or, as Josie, an individual we support who lives in Morecambe, Lancashire describes co-production: “when I get support, it’s a working-together-and-helping-each-other-thing.”

About Lifeways:

Lifeways is the UK’s largest team of support professionals providing support for adults in the community.

We support adults with diverse and complex needs, including learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries, and mental health conditions. 

As the supported living sector’s largest team of professionals, Lifeways’ extensive experience and national reach mean we deliver extraordinary support to adults, enabling them to live fulfilling and independent lives in the community. 

Our 11,000 colleagues currently support almost 5,000 individuals who live in our 1,500 supported living and residential services across England, Scotland, and Wales. 

Find out more about how we change people's lives at: www.lifeways.co.uk  

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