By Leith Sterling, Executive Director Consumer Experience and Safeguarding

When Afford appointed its new Executive Leadership Team and Senior Leadership Team at the end of 2021, there was a conscious decision to make quality, safeguarding and practice a strategic and operational priority across the organisation. We consider these areas, informed by the voice and experience of our clients, a part of our DNA and at the very core of our purpose.

Quality. Safety. Practice.

These three areas are our bedrock. Why? Because our service promise is to provide our clients with a great experience – and that starts with the foundation of reassurance that all experiences at Afford will be safe, of the highest standard and quality, and informed by best practice.

What we mean when we say ‘quality service’ at Afford

We must, and do, meet our regulatory obligation. That is a non-negotiable. We adhere to the NDIS Practice Standards in everything we do – but we do more than that. We are also focused on great outcomes and a great experience for our clients. We strive to hear and act on the voice of our clients.

What we mean when we say ‘best practice’ at Afford

‘Best practice’ can be a bit of a buzz phrase that can be used as shorthand for ‘we do a good job’. Practice is about more than doing a good job, and it’s not just the responsibility of clinical specialists. The Afford of today is focused on practice that is person-centred, rights-based and grounded in evidence.

When we say ‘practice’, we mean the way we do things at Afford. Practice is what we do every day to support our clients, and that’s the responsibility of everyone in any role at Afford.

We have rigour and frameworks in place that are informed by our clients’ goals, and defined, measurable outcomes.

What we mean when we say safeguarding at Afford

We have a broad view of safeguarding at Afford: We consider that safeguarding is more than just ‘keeping people safe’. Our Safeguarding Framework sets out the standards, processes and structures that aim to ensure our clients experience high quality, rights based, safe and person-centred services that positively impact on their quality of life.

Our whole safeguarding framework is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and we are rights-led in everything we do.

What changes has Afford made on quality, safeguarding and practice?

Over the past 18 months, we have undertaken a complete revision and rewrite of our policies and procedures framework at Afford.

To ensure our policies and procedures have undivided focus, we have a role dedicated to ensuring they are managed, understood and implemented. We also ensure that our learning and development refreshes and reinforces the knowledge and understanding of our policies and procedures and practice.

We also introduced a rigorous framework for quality management, including a self-assessment and audits program.

Our Quality & Practice department partners with our Service Delivery team to ensure we maintain the right checks and balances. To put things plainly: we’re not marking our own homework. We take our assessment against our regulatory frameworks very seriously.

Afford has redesigned our incident management system and made it our first priority as a new leadership team. Our approach to incident management is now about much more than reporting, rather we see each incident as an opportunity to learn and improve, while ensuring that we are managing risk and keeping people safe. This is a consistently understood and implemented process across Afford.

We also now have a public and accessible processes for feedback and complaints. This is an open and transparent process because we are committed to continuous improvement.

Our quality, safeguarding and practice transformation has been embraced at Afford over the past 18 months. Our teams want this to be what we are known for. They want to excel at this because it is at the heart of our purpose. We do this to be the best that we can be, so we do everything in the best interests of our clients.

Our reassurance to our clients and their families is fundamental to the promise we make to the community – that’s stated in our mission: to provide innovative, flexible and high-quality support to enhance lifestyle, learning and vocational opportunities for people with disability, their families and carers.

We want to provide choices for clients where anything is possible.

But nothing is possible without quality, practice and safeguarding in place.

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