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Dan's blog - Staying true to our principles

Over the last week, we've shown you how we are living our principles through our work. In his latest blog, Quality and Assurance Manager Daniel Allman writes about how we are doing it...

The key to a great Housing First service is aligning the support to the seven Housing First principles.

Evidence from across the world tells us that the higher the fidelity to the principles the better the outcomes for people accessing the service. So how do we monitor fidelity to the seven principles? That’s where my role and our Quality Assurance Framework come in!

In year one of the pilot, I developed a robust framework of quality assurance activities that we use to identify how closely our service is aligned to the principles.

The activities also help me to identify good practice so that it can be shared across the partnership as well as any barriers that we need to overcome.

It is really important for us to monitor fidelity internally not only to help the pilot develop but to give assurance to our external partners that we have the checks and balances in place to maintain and improve fidelity to each principle.

Each quality cycle (quarterly) the various activities inform a report for each delivery partner so they can track how the service is performing locally against each of the principles.

In addition, an overview report is completed for the whole pilot to give us and our stakeholders a view of fidelity across the programme. I utilise a fidelity rating scale developed by Housing First England to score each principle so that we can easily track where we are doing well and where we need to improve.

When I’m reviewing the information that comes out of the quality cycle I always start with the self assessments – a reflective account completed by the team leaders and zone leads in each of our delivery zones.

Here they reflect on what has gone well and not so well over the last quarter as well as rate their service delivery against a number of statements that are key to delivering each principle.

Next I review the information held on GMTHINK, our case management system to look for good practice and barriers to delivery recorded by our workers – a huge job with over 300 people receiving our support.

Also part of the cycle is regular peer to peer reflective observations where team leaders observe workers from their own zone as well as different zones (covid-19 restrictions permitting!) to provide a different viewpoint, share practice and expertise across local authorities. I also try to observe team meetings when I can to identify good practice and barriers to high fidelity delivery.

It is so important that we have the voice and the views of people who are receiving our support feeding in to our quality assurance cycle so that we can act upon feedback when necessary.

Our co-production panel have designed and developed a conversation guide that they use when speaking to people receiving the service. The responses are captured are used to inform our quality assurance process.

Their views and words are vital to us getting that meaningful information on how our service is received but also really demonstrate the human impact that our service is having on them and their lives every day.

The quotes posted on twitter over the last seven days have come directly from these guided conversations and truly show the principles in action – from the horse’s mouth!

So how are we doing? Well we are not doing too badly at all! Covid-19 has had a huge impact on how we deliver our service but nearly 12 months after the first lockdown our delivery teams have really adapted and flexed their support offer to ensure they comply with the changing restrictions whilst still providing a high fidelity service.

Access to many of the services that our people rely on so much has been greatly reduced or not possible at all throughout the pandemic so the principles of choice and control and the service is based on strengths, goals and aspirations have faced challenges over the last year.

Our teams are always finding new, creative ways to support people through what has been a really challenging period!

We’ll be publishing our quarterly quality assurance overviews on our website in the coming months so that everyone can see how we are doing when it comes to fidelity – what we are doing well on and what we are looking to improve on.

I’m always happy to talk to our external partners about fidelity and our QA process so if you would like to know more, please get in touch.

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