Exceeding Expectations in the QIC Standards

There are four levels of attainment used when assessing an organisation against the Quality Improvement Council (QIC) Standards. These attainment levels provide an overall rating for each Standard and comprise of exceeded, met, met in part and not met.

An organisation has exceeded the Standard if:

  1. MET rating descriptors have been achieved; AND
  2. Routine review and evaluation occur, including the use of findings to drive continuous improvement; AND
  3. Comprehensive use of currently recognised good practice supporting positive outcomes, occurs; AND
  4. Formal recognition has been received for achievements; OR
  5. Contribution to learning and innovation in the external environment has occurred; OR
  6. Participation in a recognised benchmarking process has occurred.

When completing accreditation all QIC Standards must be met, however an exceeded rating can be achieved against any of the 18 QIC Standards. Often clients will achieve one or two exceeded ratings, which is always very exciting for our Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) staff to see.

QIP would like to congratulate Centacare Catholic Family Services Archdiocese of Adelaide (Centacare SA) who recently completed their sixth round of accreditation against the QIC Standards. Six rounds of accreditation is an achievement in itself, as it takes a great deal of time and effort to complete, yet during their recent accreditation assessment, Centacare accomplished exceeded ratings against seven of the QIC Standards.

Centacare SA is the official community service agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide that delivers responsive, flexible and effective services to the South Australian community without regard to religion, race, culture or economic circumstance. Programs are offered in a range of sectors including disability, family, youth and children, health and well being, employment, education and training, homelessness and domestic violence located in Adelaide metropolitan, suburban and regional areas of South Australia.

The QIC Standards that were exceeded by Centacare SA are:

  • Standard 1.2 Management systems
  • Standard 1.9 Safety and Quality integration
  • Standard 2.2 Focusing on positive outcomes
  • Standard 2.4 Confirming consumer rights
  • Standard 3.2 Collaboration and strategic positioning
  • Standard 3.3 Incorporation of and contribution to good practice
  • Standard 3.4 Community and professional capacity building

While in South Australia later in March 2017, Dr Stephen Clark, AGPAL Group CEO, will be stopping by Centacare SA to personally present their accreditation certificate. In the lead up to this exciting time, we interviewed Jenny Hanlon, Centacare Catholic Services Executive Manager, Systems Improvement to find out more about this incredible achievement.

QIP: What does achieving these exceeded ratings mean to Centacare?
The validation by external reviewers that we are indeed achieving beyond requirements is significant feedback. It gives not only us but our clients, funders and other stakeholder’s confidence in Centacare as a provider of choice for high quality services to the community. It is an acknowledgement of the efforts of all staff within Centacare and their commitment to the culture of quality, which has the client at the centre of all that we do. The fact that the exceeded ratings were spread evenly across all sections of the standards, confirms we have a good balance in our efforts to ensure we are a strong and sustainable organisation.

QIP: During the six rounds of accreditation, the organisation has clearly implemented ongoing quality improvements; can you tell us what some of those are?
We are a very different organisation now to what we were when we first commenced the QIC Standards and Accreditation Program in 2001. In this time, every aspect of our organisation has been subject to quality improvements. Over the years we have worked to embed the culture of quality and continuous improvement across all levels of the organisation and have implemented countless quality improvements.

The fact we have an active Quality Program with a sustainable and ongoing structure, which engages and involves staff at all levels within the organisation, ensures improvements will continue to occur.

QIP: What do you value most about the accreditation process?|
At Centacare, we view ourselves as a learning organisation and welcome feedback as an opportunity to make improvements. This feedback can come from a range of sources including clients, stakeholders, and staff or via research, evaluation, complaints and audits.

The accreditation process provides an opportunity for reflection during the self-assessment phase, and by ensuring we are open and transparent during the external review phase we are provided with valuable insights into our organisation by independent external reviewers.

Accreditation is a formal recognition and we value that the review process validates areas where we are doing well as well as identifies areas where we can improve based on good practice.

QIP: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other community or health organisations looking to exceed in their accreditation?
We don’t set out to exceed in our accreditation, rather we aim to ensure all aspects of our organisation are authentic and of the highest quality. This is assisted by using a systems approach including good governance and corporate systems to ensure we are a strong and sustainable organisation, systems for the delivery of high quality client centred services and systems for stakeholder and consumer engagement and sector and regional partnerships. We have a comprehensive set of documents including policies and procedures which describe the various systems and are subject to continual review.

A great set of policies and systems is worth little if staff are not engaged and committed to the quality program and are not supported to focus on the best model of operation to provide quality outcomes for clients.

My advice based on our experience with implementing a quality program for accreditation is to ensure the CEO and leadership team actively support and engage in the quality program.

It is important to clearly identify who is accountable and responsible for leading the quality program and ensure they are of a level which promotes the importance of the program and enables influence. Adequate resources must also be allocated as it is quite labour intensive to maintain a quality program. The QIC Standards provide a great framework and the implementation of a strong systems approach supports requirements. Ensuring structures and processes for reviewing is built into all aspects is necessary to ensure continuous improvement. It is critical those structures and processes engage staff to embed a culture of quality.

QIP: A particular highlight for Centacare SA was Section 3 – Sustaining quality external relationships where three of the four standards were exceeded, did you do anything in particular for this section?
I think it is a combination of several factors and not any one thing in particular. To promote the culture of positive quality stakeholder relationships we have clear documentation of the expectations of stakeholder collaboration and engagement, CQI processes are in place for planning and review of stakeholder involvement as are structures for meaningful stakeholder participation.

A key KPI within position descriptions across all levels of staff includes the demonstration of collaborative work practices with all stakeholders. This was demonstrated with the compelling evidence provided to the review team by the service delivery staff of their collaboration and partnerships they have with other stakeholders to maximise the resources in the community, to achieve outcomes for clients and the community, and to shape service responses that address identified needs in a creative way. The review team applauded Centacare’s staff who step up and play leadership roles through managing services and programs, through participating in activities that lead to improvement, by mentoring and supporting one another, by working together effectively internally and with other partners, and through a focus on positive outcomes.

QIP: What role does accreditation play for your organisation to assist such a wide range of sectors and people in the community?
Accreditation provides us with a mandate which ensures we continue to evolve and grow as an organisation.

To find out more about Centacare, visit