After undertaking a significant body of work, Apax celebrates that it has been awarded Level A by Sitra in the national quality standard for performance for supporting people and supported housing called QAF (Quality Assessment Framework). Level A denotes “excellence” and is associated with providers striving to be leaders in the field and demonstrates vision, leadership and creativity that influences practices beyond the boundaries of service. Clients and stakeholders can rest assured and trust, therefore, that Apax is committed to high standards of service and will constantly strive for excellence to make a genuine difference.
This level of achievement is a testament that “Service to humanity for the betterment of our community and advancement of our society is at the heart of our purpose”. It also demonstrates clear dedication to continuous improvement across the framework in a short space of time since the previous validation in 2014, where Apax achieved Level B for providing a standard of service that exceeds statutory requirements to embrace good practice. Everyone at Apax played an important role in this process, without which it would not have been possible. A continuous effort will be made to innovate and employ approaches of best practice to enable the independence and inclusion of vulnerable adults.
What is the QAF?
Supported housing providers are measured against a sector standard for performance called Quality Assessment Framework (QAF). The QAF is a tool to assess quality, policy, best practice and excellence of a service and to continually improve deliverables. The QAF is one of several tools that were produced to help providers to implement the quality and monitoring requirements of Supporting People. To learn more click to download the QAF Refresh publication by Sitra. The QAF:
- Consists of a set of nationally defined standards designed to ensure high-quality services along with guidance on how to use it.
- Provides a standardised means for administering authorities to assess the quality of services.
- Gives provider organisations a framework for reviewing the services they operate.
Core QAF objectives
In total there are five core objectives, under which there are a set of various standards to be reached:
- Assessment and Support Planning
- Security, Health and Safety
- Safeguarding and Protection from Abuse
- Fair Access, Diversity and Inclusion
- Client Involvement and Empowerment
Performance is assessed by means of examining evidence of the ways in which services are provided and then awarding a performance level against each of the core objectives and any agreed supplementary objectives. There are three main possible levels:
- Denotes excellence and is associated with providers striving to be leaders in their field. These services incorporate mechanisms for delivering continuous improvement.
- Denotes good practice and services at this level should be working towards achieving level A
- Means that the service meets the required minimum standard but there is scope for improvement.
Level A in detail
Level A: means “excellence” and is associated with providers striving to be leaders in their field, and:
- Is flexible and responsive, and able to adapt the service best to meet clients’ needs Is a learning organisation that reflects on its work and uses this information to challenge its own performance
- Effectively engages clients and staff in this shared learning
- Engages in partnership working at a strategic level to better meet the needs of clients, the service/organisation and commissioners
- Demonstrates the achievement of shared outcomes as a result of effective partnership working
- Demonstrates vision, leadership and creativity that influences practices beyond the boundaries of the service.
Apax’s performance results
Apax successfully achieved an A score in every objective apart from one with an overall Level A as shown in the table below:
|Core Objectives||Apax Validated|
|1. Assessment and Support Planning||A|
|2. Security, Health and Safety||A|
|3. Safeguarding and Protection from Abuse||B|
|4. Fair Access, Diversity and Inclusion||A|
|5. Client Involvement and Empowerment||A|
|Overall Performance Level||A|
Who is Sitra and Homeless Link?
Sitra are champions excellence in housing, support and care and custodians of QAF. Sitra is a membership organisation providing leadership, influencing policy through expertise, promoting best practice and providing consultancy, training, information and advice to:
- Promote positive outcomes for clients, providers and funders
- Drive the policy agenda
- Encourage a healthy, diverse and sustainable sector
- Support quality and professionalisation
As a result of Sitra’s active and longstanding involvement in the sector and its close links with providers, commissioners and funders of supported housing services in England, it holds a unique position in the market. As the supported housing sector undergoes a period of substantial change, Sitra is engaging with issues revolving around the lifting of the Supporting People ring fence, the personalisation agenda, commissioning, procurement and partnership, including framework agreements, the establishment of the Homes and Communities Agencies (HCA) and the Tenants Services Authority (TSA) and managing and delivering quality services, particularly in relation to the revised Quality Assessment Framework (QAF). Homeless Link merged with Sitra in 2016 and now operates as Homeless Link, with a specialist supported housing arm – the Supported Housing Alliance. It is the umbrella organisation for 800 organisations nationally to raise standards in the homelessness, housing, health and social care and support sector for over 30 years. Its expertise in the field has been recognised and consulted by government departments and local authorities, as well as a host of other bodies.