Reflective practice strategies
How are reflective practice strategies implemented to ensure feedback in service delivery?
Quality and effective service delivery is about providing a service in the best possible way. It is about anticipating, conforming to and sometimes exceeding the clients’ expectations and requirements. Effectiveness is also about service delivery being on time and resources being used effectively.
A quality service has the following characteristics:
- It is willing to, and finds the resources to, be flexible.
- It meets the needs of the clients.
- It involves the client at every stage of planning, delivery and review.
- It has policies, procedures and safeguards in place to protect staff.
It is important that agencies expend time and energy into reflecting on and evaluating their practice delivery. This includes thinking about what they do, how they do it and what they could do better.
It is also important to ask:
- Is there anything we are not doing that we should be doing?
- Is there anything we are doing that we should not be doing?
It is vital that they look at their outcomes of service delivery objectively.
Outcomes of service delivery can be measured in several ways:
- how the client’s needs have been met
- the quality of the relationships between workers and clients
- how timely the support is
- the flexibility of the organisation and the support workers
- the quality of the communication between support workers, and clients and others in the organisation
- adherence to the code of conduct and other standards/agreements
- the functioning and motivation of the team
- policies and procedures.
The following four dimensions are areas to be considered when you monitor and evaluate services to clients:
Quantitative outcomes are the collection of data that shows numbers. For the organisation this may mean keeping records of how many people you supported during the month, the number of incoming and outgoing phone calls, or the number of new clients referred.
This information alone gives no indication of the quality of work performed or the level of client satisfaction with this work, but may be a requirement of funding arrangements.
Qualitative outcome measures focus on the effectiveness of the work performed. The purpose is to start with the aims and objectives of support being provided, then gather information to see if these aims and objectives are being met.
For example, if the primary objective is ‘support clients to achieve their goals’, then clients may be interviewed and files reviewed to compare goals achieved with goals identified. If a primary aim is to empower service users, then a survey may be carried out to determine whether clients feel empowered.
In terms of measuring and maintaining effectiveness of the direct support you provide to clients on a day-to-day basis, less formal methods of gathering information will be appropriate.
Ask for feedback from clients, volunteers and other services.
Good work practice means involving clients as much as possible in all actions and decisions that affect them. However, there are a number of factors that might affect the client’s involvement, including:
- boundaries set by court orders
- mental health
- whether they want to be involved.
Effectiveness at individual support worker level
Quality of service at an individual support level is about such indicators as:
- the quality of the relationship between the worker and the young person
- the timeliness of the support provided
- the responsiveness of the worker to the changing needs of the individual
- the flexibility of the worker
- the quality of communication between the worker and others
- adherence to the code of conduct and other standards of the organisation
- the ability to work effectively as part of a team.
Individual staff may have opportunities built into their jobs to have regular performance reviews with their supervisors. There are also systems in place that look at personal and career development. These are often referred to as ‘personal appraisal systems’ or ‘employee development systems’.
These are opportunities for individual staff to sit with their immediate supervisor to reflect on general service delivery, as well as their own personal performance, and allow time to reflect on their work practices and set goals for areas that require improvement or further training.
Support workers may have a supervisor or mentor they meet with regularly to raise issues that are concerning them and to review the quality of their own service delivery.
Maintaining the effectiveness of service
In maintaining the effectiveness of the service, either at a service provider or individual worker level, it is essential to be clear on what the quality standards are and how they should be put into practice, and to monitor and regularly review how the service is performing in relation to those standards.
Some services will be involved in a process called a ‘self-assessment’, where each year they compare staff and client views on how they meet the standards. This information is combined and together, staff and clients decide on some actions for improving the service for the following year. This can be a requirement by the funding body in some organisations.
Modifying service delivery
How can service delivery be modified in response to feedback?
The most critical aspect of reviewing client services is to act on the feedback gathered. If people do not see some changes as a result of feedback they have provided, they will be unlikely to provide input next time. Giving feedback requires a considerable investment of time and effort by the client; this should be acknowledged in a formal way.
Depending on the nature of the feedback received, there will be a range of options for acting on feedback. If the feedback relates to the service generally, e.g. office hours, referral procedure, and range of services offered, it is likely to be addressed by the management committee or the manager and the board. If the feedback relates to specific staff or specific support provided, it is likely to be addressed by the relevant staff member and their immediate supervisor.
For some service providers, effectiveness is about whether the outcome is achieved, e.g. achieving targets for people placed in jobs or integrated into the community. For most service providers, however, effectiveness is about client satisfaction that they are getting the support they need to achieve their goals, and that they are being treated with dignity and respect.
Irrespective of the level or type of review of service quality, client feedback is essential. A service or an individual may have quality systems and good intentions, but unless the individual or customer is happy, there is no quality service.
Complete the following interactive process to reveal the steps you can take to build a quality client service standard.