Social services quality standards
In our work, we are guided by the social services quality standards, according to the national Ordinance on the social services quality standards, NN 143/14, in order to provide the highest quality social services since our establishment. https://narodne-novine.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeni/2014_12_143_2693.html, but since the foundation we have also ensured quality according to other good practices: for example, EU social care quality standards https://www.esn-eu.org/sites/default/files/publications/ESN_Quality_report_light_web.pdf. Quality of social services:
- for those who use social services, it means autonomy
- for those who provide social services, it means “giving everything to put everything in place, the necessary elements that ensure that people who use services “continue to live like any citizen who does not use these services”
- for decision-makers/public bodies, quality is related to providing services for all people in their area, in the community where they live. (The European Social Network, 2020, Striving for Quality in Social services over social care: Proposal for quality assurance principles in Europe).
The standards can only be ensured if you adopt several key methods and work principles that we have been applying since the foundation:
- A strengths-based approach to people in need of support and care, not the person’s barriers or disabilities: defined by the social model and the rights model, https://www.scie.org.uk/strengths-based-approaches
- A person-oriented approach, the person is at the center, not only of the work, but also of the compensations (e.g. “personal budget” enables decision-making and choice) https://www.scie.org.uk/person-centred-care
- An approach based on “what we and the community have, allows the person to be integrated in the community where he lives, and not displaced anywhere…https://www.scie.org.uk/future-of-care/asset-based-places/introduction
- Intersectoral cooperation or “joint working” in the true sense, not only declaratively, https://www.scie.org.uk/integrated-care/ways-of-working/joint-working
- Innovative approaches https://www.scie.org.uk/transforming-care/innovation, such as our Mentor program.
We achieve the same by constantly reviewing methods and results, continuously evaluating effectiveness: for example, https://www.scie.org.uk/integrated-care/measuring-evaluating/logic-model, or https://www.scie.org.uk/integrated-care/better-care/guides/measure-impact.
Review of social services quality standards from the Ordinance
- Availability of information – “current and potential beneficiaries of services should receive all information about the social services to which they are entitled, so that they can properly choose those services that best meet their needs”.
In the protocol for receiving new beneficiaries and for all those who participate in the program, we provide continuous information. For daily internal information of both beneficiaries and volunteers, we also use a closed Facebook group, Volonteri Prijatelji, and regularly publish information on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/istrazinvanieipotpora and our website, www.dip.hr. Parents and co-workers, program participants and volunteers receive information about the work plan for the next week every Friday at 7 pm, by e-mail.
- Availability of services – “access to social services is achieved by a person on the basis of rights and assessed needs, and available resources, within the scope of activities and contractual guidelines of the service provider”.
Our program is highly structured, rich in many activities that overall have a favorable effect on the participants. We cooperate with many stakeholders so that beneficiaries have as many choices as possible of various activities in which they can get involved. Many experts hold various voluntary activities in order to improve the offer and start holding some new activities on a regular basis. All volunteers who volunteer long-term independently come up with a new activity, with our support.
- Connection and cooperation – “comprehensive needs of the beneficiary are met in a way that maximizes the beneficiary’s access to public services available to other citizens, integration and involvement of the beneficiaries in society and maintenance of ties with family and friends.
Services are planned and provided by connecting with other to service providers”. We are affiliated with the Association of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Srce, Rijeka, so that their beneficiaries can use our services, and ours can participate in the activities they carry out. We regularly hold group therapy and counseling for family members, so we also encourage joint activities.
- Assessment and planning – “the needs of service beneficiaries undergo an efficient and thorough assessment, and the ways of satisfying their needs are described in service provision plans”.
Each beneficiary and family member(s) are included in the initial and periodic triage process, and individual and group counseling is conducted in order to monitor the effectiveness of the program. An individual plan is kept for everyone, and the skills and acquired personal competencies are kept in the “skills and jobs database”.
- Reception and discharge – “the service provider carefully plans the reception and discharge of users who are in care outside their own family, and in the implementation respects their needs and the needs of their families”.
Fortunately, all the people we work for are still in their respective families, and it is our primary goal that it remains so. Likewise, we give support to everyone, in order to prevent institutionalization.
- Decision-making and self-determination – “service beneficiaries are encouraged to actively influence their own lives and are enabled in every way to choose and decide on all aspects of their lives”.
In addition to encouraging beneficiaries to actively participate in decision-making, they are also encouraged to carry out activities according to their interests with the support of leaders (DIP’s youth club). Since the foundation, we have empowered all program participants to be able to make independent decisions and actively participate in the activities we plan, so our programs have also been shaped by the wishes and interests of our beneficiaries. Empowerment processes are aimed at self-advocacy and only continuous empowerment can lead to an empowered self-advocate. In the framework of the project “Zajednicki kroz život” (https://centar-podrske.hr/projekti-u-provedbi/zajednicki-kroz-zivot/) in which we participate, we have formalized our self-advocacy groups and parent support groups. Our approach can be seen in our daily work, because each of them actively participates in the creation of the program, presents their impressions and criticisms of the activities carried out, which is an invaluable source for planning new activities.
- Privacy and confidentiality – “the right of every beneficiary of the service to privacy, confidentiality and dignity in all aspects of his life is recognized and respected”.
Emphasis is placed on privacy, confidentiality and dignity (from encouraging the creation of trust, enabling privacy, careful exposure to the public with their consent and the consent of guardians, if the beneficiary has one. All beneficiaries sign consents for all forms of publication in public, and this is confirmed by their guardians , while parents are informed about all activities.
- Security against exploitation – “the service provider ensures an environment in which there is no neglect, abuse, intimidation and exploitation, and in which basic human rights and legally guaranteed rights of beneficiaries are respected”.
Beneficiaries are explicitly empowered to defend themselves against neglect, abuse, intimidation and exploitation in the environment in which they live and among themselves, they learn the protocol in case of violence, but also tolerance for diversity. In the work, “rules of conduct” are used in the group and with other people, in the creation of which the beneficiaries themselves participate. The topics of group counseling and therapy meetings are also those topics that beneficiaries talk about, and these topics are part of everyday activities. We undertake everything that is our duty to prevent the violation of their rights, starting from everyday work, but also in all places, from the family, in public places, on the Internet and elsewhere.
- Restrictive procedures – “beneficiaries whose freedom of choice and/or movement is restricted shall be subject to the same measures of protection and promotion of their well-being as for other service beneficiaries”.
All beneficiaries have the same position, rights and duties, but methods and techniques are used in accordance with their capabilities. When the expert team assesses that a beneficiary should be temporarily isolated, it is most often because their medical needs for treatment are not adequately met, so it is a measure that encourages the parent to pay more attention to mental health and use medical services in accordance with the doctor’s recommendations. Then, while the treatment lasts, we are even more dedicated to monitoring and communicating with the family.
- Objections and appeals – ” beneficiaries of services, families and other interested persons can complain about decisions made by relevant authorities or individual employees, and demand and receive a solution to complaints about the provision of services, without fear of consequences, and with full confidence that their objections will be given full attention”.
Trust is fostered among managers, families and beneficiaries in order to communicate openly about all problems and find the best solution. All participants in the process can at any time without fear say what and how they experienced a particular day or procedure, and we give them support to understand the consequences and causes of a particular experience.
- Management – “managers or other persons in charge of managing work and business use quality management methods, which achieves the optimal outcome for service beneficiaries “.
All employees and volunteers are continuously trained to work with beneficiaries, and in order to implement the programs as efficiently as possible, the program team regularly and on a weekly basis evaluates the results achieved and plans monthly and weekly activities. We constantly review all activities and monitor how they affect beneficiaries.
- Management – “the social service provider applies good management methods, and in the wider community promotes good practice, encourages innovation and advocates for an open and inclusive society”.
At all levels, beneficiaries are involved in many activities that promote our innovative practices, inclusive volunteering of beneficiaries is promoted, cooperation is carried out with many stakeholders and activities are carried out in various environments, e.g. Zeleni Kastav Fair, EPK 2020, Municipality of Viškovo and Municipality of Kostrena Nordic walking with citizens. Openness and availability, clear messages to the public and using every opportunity to teach about the values we represent create exactly that “community that cares”.
- Employees – “the service provider has adequate employees in the number that can meet the needs of service beneficiaries and ensure the quality of the service provided”.
Through the three-year program co-financed by the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy and others (PGŽ and LGU) and the institutional support of the National Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, 4 people were employed to run the program. In order to improve the implementation, it is necessary to hire at least 3 more people (an administrator, another head of the occupational program and other experts of various profiles (social pedagogues, social workers, psychologists, etc.). Therefore, in February 2023, we are still waiting for an invitation from the relevant ministries for contracting the financing of social services.
- The work of volunteers, students on internships and interns – “the policy and methods of action of service providers in relation to the work of volunteers, students and interns guarantee the satisfaction of the needs and the protection of the rights of service beneficiaries “. Volunteers are key stakeholders in involving beneficiaries in the community. They are mostly their peers, so great attention is paid to their education, encouraging the implementation of independent activities. Through cooperation with the University of Rijeka, students who fulfill their obligations from their studies by joining our program, have a special mentor who plans and monitors the implementation of the activity plan for students who are involved in professional practice, as well as “service learning” or learning through commitment in the community. Although we have more than 10 students every year and an average of 3 students from the mobility program from the ERASMUS+ program, we only signed a formal agreement on entering the professional base of the University of Rijeka in 2022. So far, at least 200 students have had the opportunity to volunteer long-term and acquire personal and professional competencies for working in a challenging environment, teamwork and working with persons with disabilities.
- Accessibility of the environment – “the service provider provides the persons exercising the right to services and their families with an accessible environment that is easy to use, keeping in mind the different needs of the beneficiaries “.
- Conditions adapted to beneficiaries – “premises and equipment used in the provision of social services correspond to their purpose and the specific needs of beneficiaries “.
All spaces are adapted to the needs of the beneficiaries, but they are also included in the arrangement of the space according to their interests.
- Safety and security – “the service provider guarantees health protection and safety to service beneficiaries, their families, employees and the wider community by applying appropriate risk control methods”.
During the pandemic, special attention is paid to protection measures, sufficient leaders and volunteers are always provided for all activities both inside and outside the area, all risks are carefully assessed and protocols are planned in case of risks.