Co-producing quality assessment

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Anyplace council's mental health commissioners have always understood the importance of quality assessments to check the quality of providers and their services:

"We have always had a strong focus on quality assurance - doing unannounced site visits and assessing providers against a quality framework"
Mental Health Commissioner

However, when commissioners started to review their plan in 2013, they decided to re-design and co-produce these assessments with people who use services to make sure that people's needs, aspirations and expectations were being met.

The commissioners worked with people who use mental health services in the area to re-write the quality assurance framework. A group of people who use services was set up to check services (quality assessors). This group of people led some site visits to test the framework. The framework that they co-produced sets out nine areas that people using services, providers and commissioners feel are important to mental health services.

People who use services have been recruited and trained to become quality assessors. Each visit is carried out by two of the quality assessors and a commissioner working together. They use the framework to judge how well providers are meeting people's needs, aspirations and expectations.

After the first visits providers were scored and put into three groups: red, amber and green:

  • Providers in the green group were told that they would definitely have funding to continue their work,
  • Providers in the amber group were asked to show progress before having another review and
  • Providers in the red group will lose their funding and contract with the council (be decommissioned). Anyone can see the details of all the visits.
The important elements of this process were clarity and transparency about how it would work and what the implications could be for providers, based on outcomes and service qualities agreed by everyone.