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Reviewing and assessing Home Improvement Agency Quality Mark (QM) submissions is one of the essential roles Foundations Regional Advisors undertake. In this blog, we explore the purpose and benefits of the HIA Quality Mark and speak to Jo Irving, manager of the HIA at Yorkshire Housing, whose service has recently received the Mark again, who explains what getting the Mark means for her and her team.
The QM has existed since the early 2000s. Initially designed as a passport assessment for the Supporting People Quality Assessment Framework, the Mark has always been informed by those working in the sector. The latest version (rolled out in 2019) includes new objectives around DFG transformation, consumer rights, and alternative dispute resolution. Being awarded the QM is a recognition that your service has robust policies and procedures, enabling it to operate and function safely. The Mark now acts as a feeder qualification for onward progression to obtain the Advice Quality Standard (AQS)
Getting the QM involves submitting evidence demonstrating how your service meets the 10 Quality Mark Objectives. The submitted evidence is then reviewed by the Regional Advisor, who may also follow up with a visit to the service. One HIA recently awarded the QM again is Yorkshire Housing HIA. They have had the QM since 2013, and we spoke to Jo Irving, the manager, to get her thoughts and reflections on getting the award.
Jo explained that one of the main reasons they applied again for the Mark is that it is a way she can build trust and confidence with the customers. For Jo, the QM is a way of demonstrating to customers that the service has the right policies and procedures to deliver a safe service, reassuring them that the team knows what they are doing.
According to Jo, there are also significant benefits for the team. The team that Jo manages sits within a large Housing Association in the North of England. During our conversation, she described how the wider organisation has celebrated the teams’ success in gaining the QM. She feels this has helped to raise the profile of the vital work the HIA does in the organisation, and they are now receiving referrals from parts of the HIA they have not previously had contact with.
Jo explained how everyone in the team was involved in putting the evidence together for the QM submission. So, when the team received confirmation they had gained the Mark, she described how everyone felt proud and excited by what they had achieved. They even went out and had a celebratory team breakfast.
When asked about submitting the evidence, Jo acknowledged that initially, the task of doing this felt daunting. However, they soon realised that it was an excellent opportunity to ensure that processes and procedures were up-to-date. They were also able to identify new documentation that needed to be developed due to changes in ways of working, particularly those that the team had made due to the impact of covid. Finally, we asked Jo for her three top tips for those thinking about applying for the QM.
- Tip 1: Prepare and plan your submission. There is a lot of evidence that has to be submitted, and it takes time to find and collate this information.
- Tip 2: Share the task of preparing the submission with all members of the team, this way, they feel they have ownership of the process and can see how their role contributes to the delivery of a safe service
- Tip 3: Do it. The recognition, additional business generated, and the opportunity to ensure that the right policies and procedures are in place to deliver a safe service is worth the effort and time required to submit the evidence.