In 2012 Southdown Housing Association helped service users develop a tool that enables them to evaluate the support service they receive. The service users called it The Q-Kit.

Image: The Q-Kit LogoIn the creation of The Q-Kit, the team spoke with many service users who outlined the aspects that they felt were important in their lives such as being me, social lives and relationships, new experiences and dreams, living healthily, feeling safe, being listened to etc. Some of the service users we spoke to agreed to be filmed and their thoughts and comments are captured on the DVD that is included with the Q-Kit. The Q-Kit also contains a guidebook on how service users can use the tool to evaluate their support and a workbook to offer prompts on aspects of a person’s life that they might wish to talk about.

Within a Q-Kit quality check, service users are invited to watch the DVD to help encourage them to reflect on all aspects of their lives as well as inspire creative thought on how their life might be improved. The Q-Kit work book consists of 9 topic sections, each with related questions designed to help service users relay their thoughts. The workbook also contains a section that invites advocates to speak on a service user’s behalf if this is more appropriate or preferable to the service user.

However, we are committed to ensuring that all service users are meaningfully engaged and able to contribute their own thoughts on the quality of their service. We believe that objective quality checks are important but that an individual service user’s happiness can be the only true test of quality.

We are therefore continually developing ways to try to ensure that service users are meaningfully engaged.

We have endeavoured to do this by introducing a team of service user quality checkers known as the Q-Team. We believe that this peer support approach provides a platform for service users to interact without pressure or expectation. It also empowers service users through group advocacy as the service user can remain anonymous, if they wish, with the quality checking team providing the feedback to the service and holding them accountable.

The Q-Team has also developed communication facilitation tools such as images, sounds and animation to help them interact with service users. Communication methods are constantly developed as we visit more services and learn their approaches.

In addition to this, Southdown is continually providing support and training to the Q-Team to help develop their skills, including total communications skills, boundaries and confidentiality, interview skills etc.

The Q-Team also develops intrinsically through the use of the Q-Kit and from their experiences undertaking quality checking visits. This has enabled them to add a further dimension to quality checks where service users have limiting communication skills, offering feedback on their observations in a service (including staff and service user interactions) and asking staff questions about their practice. This is in addition to the information provided by the service user’s advocate in their questionnaire and contributes to a holistic service user representation.

The Q-Kit and Q-Team approach seeks to ensure that the service users themselves are at the heart of checking the quality of their service.

The result is that The Q-Kit will help ensure that services are meeting the ‘I statements’ in the Transforming Care report and the CQC essential standards, but further than that, it will help service users to express their views on how they feel that their service could continually develop and improve.

We see the Q-Kit as a tool that is permanently in development that continually strives to ensure that service users are able to secure the life that they choose.


Southdown Housing Association