This handbook has been designed to be actively used by individual service providers. Each organisation, or section of an organisation, will be at a different point in relation to the individual standards and it will be up to each organisation or service to decide what its priorities are for improving its services against the quality standards and what the appropriate rate of change is for the organisation.
The handbook is divided into sections. These cover separate areas of service delivery – hostels, food centres, advice and information, street outreach and settlement. The separate section dealing with organisational standards, while only indirectly connected with service delivery, is crucial in enabling services to be provided to the standards indicated.
Each of the sections covering separate areas of service delivery, contains an aspirational or vision statement of how each service should be, a statement of the purpose for the service and a list of best quality standards for each key function needed to carry out the service satisfactorily. What these standards mean in practice is detailed in each section. These standards aim to represent best practice in each area. The idea of minimum standards was considered but rejected on the basis that they may have been treated as maximum standards, leaving some agencies to feel that they need do nothing else to improve their service. It was recognised that quality is a continuous journey – that we all need to constantly listen to the views of service users and work continuously to improve services. Quality is therefore a journey without an end point.
Below is a suggested action programme for services in using this handbook, for which support is available on request from the Initiative office for all stages: