Quality assurance is integral to the provision of good quality care. It has been long recognised as good commercial practice for businesses to check that their goods and services meet customer expectations and comply with industry standards.

In health and social care, the relevant regulators assure quality by inspecting a registered service against the relevant standards and regulations. Local service commissioners will also check that services under contract to them are achieving their quality standards and are providing value for the public monies that they are investing in them. If services are not meeting the required standards, they will be expected to make the necessary improvements and will be penalised if they fail to do so.

All forms of quality assurance require organisations to have their own systems and processes for checking that they are working correctly and effectively to achieve their goals and to take corrective actions if they find that they are not. Through the information obtained from the various management activities involved in monitoring, reviewing and auditing, the organisation can judge its own performance. The information will also feed into the information base of any outside assessors (inspectors or local authority quality standards sections) and contribute to their respective assessments.

Care services should develop their own quality systems, following a clear set of principles, and use the feedback from inspections to improve the quality of their provision.

This topic should be read alongside the topic on Inspection Procedures. Complaints handling is also closely linked to quality assurance as discussed in the Complaints and Compliments topic.

Managers might also refer to The Care Service as a Learning Organisation topic to identify the key role played by quality assurance in business and service development.

During the coronavirus outbreak and the measures taken to deal with it, every effort should be made to maintain quality assurance processes, which includes regularly checking the relevant policies and procedures and assessing the impact that they are having on standards of care. (See the Coronavirus toolkit for care services for the relevant resources).

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