Why do Quality Standards matter?
While anyone may make mistakes, when it comes to helping others it is important that we do everything in our power to minimise the risk of that happening: it can be highly damaging, with far-reaching consequences.
RAN believes that the process of organisations undertaking an accreditation process and achieving a Quality Standard helps reduce errors of this kind.
That is why we passionately believe in the importance of the Quality Standard accreditation process both for the prospective client, as well as for the organisation itself.
Our Quality Standard starts with the following statement:
"The right information and advice, given when people are facing a crisis or at their most vulnerable, can transform lives for the better"
Why have a RAN Quality Standard?
As detailed in our history, we were formed as the Reading Advice Network Project (a three year project funded by the National Lottery in conjunction with the Cabinet Office) was due to come to an end.
During that Project, concerns were raised about the detrimental effects that the wrong Information and Advice can have on people, and on the importance of Quality Standard accreditation, even if it is hard to achieve for an organisation.
All members of the Project acknowledged the need for an affordable, sector-specific, rigorous, collaborative and supportive Quality Standard accreditation process.
The RAN Quality Standard was therefore created to enable any organisation, no matter its size or workload, to engage with this process. RAN's accreditation encourages everyone in an organisation to pause, reflect on the way they work and helps them realign focus.
Our Quality Standard is heavily subsidised by RAN, is recognised by Reading Borough Council, who have made it a requirement for any organisation providing Information and Advice who receives a grant from them. Reading Borough Council are highly supportive of our Independent Assessors who collaborate with and encourage our Members, helping them through the process.
Quality Standard revision
Although RAN expects our Members to undertake Quality Standard assessments and, when the time comes, reassessments after holding the Standard for three years, in November 2020 RAN’s trustees decided to suspend these assessment processes because of and during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the heights of the pandemic may now have been reached, we have recommenced those on-site assessments, but we have revised the QS to take the different and new ways of working that our Members now undertake.
The pandemic has forced many of our member organisations to change radically the way they deliver information and advice services - moving from services delivered primarily face-to-face in their offices to services largely delivered by their staff and volunteers by phone or online from home, or a hybrid version of both of those.
Previous versions of the RAN Quality Standard did not properly cover advice and information services delivered from home, online or by phone. We thought it should. We drafted a revised version of the Standard, consulted our member organisations about it, and with one or two suggested amendments to our draft, which we accepted, they agreed.
Version 3 is now here on the website and is now in use for assessments. The revision to this Standard has also enabled RAN to produce a document that can be edited on-screen and/or downloaded (PDF reader needed).
All-round quality reassurance for Information and Advice provided
Seeing the RAN Quality Standard logo is a reassurance to anyone approaching an organisation that the Information and Advice it delivers meets the very highest standards, those agreed upon by the sector as a whole, and through consultation with our Member organisations.
Unlike other national accreditation bodies, the RAN Quality Standard accreditation process has been devised for a broad variety of Information and Advice-giving bodies.
That the RAN Quality Standard is specific to our area, we feel is an added bonus as it increases its "recognisability" by the people and communities of Reading.
And while rigorous in its nature, our assessment processes support our Members as they implement any changes needed to achieve the Standard.