By Lisa Carnegie

If you want to make positive change a sustained way forward, you need sound governance, frameworks and practice guidelines. This is particularly true when your work is the provision of human services. You need to get the foundations in place to build up from there.

Over the past 18 months, we have been building our Clinical Governance, and Safeguarding frameworks at Afford. We have also been working hard on developing our Assessment, Planning and Provision of Support Policy. This will provide a framework of how we work with clients to understand who they are and how best to work with them.

These frameworks aim to protect the human rights we value. The frameworks will ensure that what we do – not just what we say – promote respect, safety, dignity, choice, equality and access. The frameworks will set out clear expectations for our teams on how to do their jobs in a rights-based way – they are the infrastructure of human rights in practice.

Our frameworks will play out in practice and crucially, in behaviour, culture and beliefs. That’s how it gets real for our clients: in our interactions. That is what counts for our clients.

Frameworks make the belief system, and the practices that demonstrate the belief system, explicit and transparent. The frameworks will hold people to account, so we need them. Our frameworks will set out the organisation’s commitments, avenues for support and governance through our leadership committees. The committees will be there to keep things honest and accountable, but they are also there about support – so there is a channel for best practice to be guided, for guidance to be sought out, and for continuous improvement to happen.

Our Safeguarding Framework

Our soon-to-be launched Safeguarding Framework will focus on human rights and client voice. The interactive framework will be our sat nav and it means we drive in the right direction. That’s best practice safeguarding. It’s not the words on the page – it’s the actions.

Our commitment at Afford is that every client accessing our services and working for our organisation should receive services and support that promotes their safety, enables participation and choice, and promotes and upholds respect for their inherent dignity. All Afford employees must work to safeguard the rights for all clients.

Our Safeguarding Framework will support the protection of the following rights:

  • The right to be respected: We support our clients without judgement and accept people for who they are, embracing their individuality.
  • The right to express yourself: Clients have the freedom to communicate who they are, including their thoughts and feelings.
  • The right to access: Clients are supported to access information in formats that suit their communication needs, and to have equal access to health, legal and advocacy services.
  • The right to make choices: We support and encourage clients to make their own choices in all aspects of life, with support if requested.
  • The right to be included: Clients are supported to participate and be included in community.
  • The right to be an equal individual: Clients are supported to develop and have relationships of their choosing, and to be free from any form of discrimination.
  • The right to have opportunities: All clients are supported to try new experiences, learn new skills, work and express opinions.
  • The right to be safe: Clients are free from any form of abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation in Afford services or employment environments. We uphold all clients right to be safeguarded from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, and have stringent policies, procedures, learning and development and a culture of zero tolerance at Afford. Our clients and employees know that if it feels wrong, seems wrong, looks wrong or sounds wrong – they need to tell someone. And we know how to do this.

Assessment, Planning and Provision of Support Policy

Our Assessment, Planning and Provision of Support policy will provide a framework for supporting clients to identify their own goals, measure outcomes and be in control of how they want to be supported. It will ensure our service teams, who work directly with our clients, understand the best way to support someone to achieve their goals, feel safe, feel heard and have great experiences. The focus is on the individual – this is not a broad brush, wholesale approach. There is no one size fits all approach to disability supports. It is customised, specific and personal.

We have a commitment to providing training to all teams working directly with clients on implementing this policy before the end of the year. The focus will be on person centred thinking and approaches, having effective and compassionate conversations with our clients and understanding what good support looks like.

Clinical Governance Framework

An important note on clinical governance is that it does not just apply to our employees in clinical roles. Clinical governance is about service and practice. It will apply to everyone working at Afford. Our Clinical Governance Framework will be our roadmap to ensure top-quality and safe care for our clients. . But here’s the exciting part: we’re shaking things up to make it even more engaging and inclusive for everyone at Afford. We’re embarking on a pilot initiative where we’ll be co-designing the Framework’s implementation process. We will work together with our clients and employees to bring this framework to life in the most meaningful way possible.

Our framework and practices mean that our service teams can tell you immediately how each individual is supported in a customised, personal way.

I am proud these frameworks and practices will soon be in place.

The terms ‘framework’, ‘policy’ and ‘practice’ sound dry, and very impersonal, but what they communicate, instruct and make happen is anything but impersonal.

Our practice is about people, their choices in life, work, relationships and connection. Our practices are about individual human rights, dignity, opportunity, safety and respect. Our frameworks will explicitly state how we make our practices a reality in people’s lives. The frameworks we will put in place are core to our purpose and the vital foundations for Afford today, and for the future.

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