Quality standard measures refer to the principles that define the desired outcomes of health and social care services. Understanding the relationship between the quality indicators and the standards of quality in health and social care is necessary for enhancing quality service delivery. The measurement of quality in both health and social care using the existing indicators is important as it conveys the exact extent to which caregivers and health facilities are adhering to the set standards. According to Griffiths et al. (2008, p.57), among the benefits of measuring quality in healthcare provision is that the practice enhances strategic decision making and policy analysis in the sector. The quality standards in health and social care are based on certain needs that include safety, the effectiveness of services, responsiveness to the needs of patients, caring, and leadership.
The safety of patients is a key indicator of quality in health and social care practice. This can be measured through considering factors such as a decrease or increase in medication errors, the decline or increase in inpatient re-admissions, as well as the reduction or increase in the prevalence of healthcare-related infections (Feary 2012, p.13). To safeguard the safety of patients, many health organizations base their quality standards on the aforementioned safety needs. For instance, in assessing the quality of services in a certain healthcare facility, the manner in which the safety measures aimed at reducing medical errors are adhered to by the caregivers can be considered. If medical errors that threaten the safety of patients are found to be high, this can indicate a decline in the quality of the services offered. The mortality rate also determines whether or not caregivers are adhering to the set quality standards. A reduction in the mortality rate indicates compliance with the standards of quality in terms of ensuring patient safety.
As claimed by Feary, some of the most profound barriers to quality services in health and social care emanate from poor leadership and lack of accountability among healthcare managers (2012, p.12). For instance, cases of corruption and lack of accountability often interfere with the ability of health organizations to offer quality services to their clients. Zero tolerance to systematic corruption is a common quality standard that is embraced by many in the healthcare industry to enhance accountability and service quality. Corruption, as well as other vices that might occur in health care systems as a result of the lack of accountability and poor leadership, pose a serious threat to the quality agenda that is currently being pursued by many health organizations. The funds that are allocated to improve certain departments should be accounted for in full as a requirement of ensuring adherence to the codes of practice in health and social care services.
The accessibility, responsiveness, and caring ability of healthcare services provide the other important indications as to whether the services offered are of high or low quality. As pointed out by Leatherman and Sutherland (2003, p. 56), if the services are considered rigid, inaccessible, and less responsive to the needs of the users, the services can be regarded to be of low quality. Patients should not be subjected to long waiting hours before they could access treatment services in health or social care facilities. Among the quality standard measures aimed at enhancing these qualities include the offering of patient-centered care (Hewitt et al. 2003, p.49). Through this strategy, the unique personal needs of every client are established and relevant interventions that contribute to effective care are formulated. Users should feel that they are treated with respect and utmost care. This is important in that their trust levels and confidence in the services are raised.
Communication and health promotion are the other profound concerns on which many quality standards in health and social care are based. Health information plays a significant role in enhancing human health. As such, the quality of the services offered by a particular health caregiver can be assessed depending on how it avails important information that can promote the well-being of the users (Westhood, Rodgers & Sowden 2003, p.230). Effective communication is also focused on by many quality managers in the healthcare industry. Communication enhances coordination between many players in the sector and it is also the medium through which the interests and needs of the various stakeholders are conveyed. The communication strategies of given health or social care provider are, therefore, important indicators of the quality of the services offered.
If patients feel unsatisfied with the services they get from health and social caregivers, they are bound to file complaints or raise concerns. Handling complaints and concerns raised by clients is an important way in which health facilities work on their weaknesses. The proper recording of the complaints raised in a certain period and making them available to the staff is an important way of ensuring that the mistakes that prompt these complaints and concerns are not raised. Adherence to standards of quality enhances the provision of quality care.
Feary S 2012. ‘Barriers to Managing and Improving Quality.’ Nursing Times, vol. 108, no. 10, pp. 12-14.
Griffiths P. Jones, S., Maben, J & Murrells, T 2008. State of the art metrics for nursing: a rapid appraisal, National Nursing Research Unit, King’s College, London.
Hewitt, C. Lankshear, A., Maynard, A., Sheldon, T & Smith, R 2003. Health service workforce and health outcomes – a scoping study, Service Delivery Organization, London.
Leatherman, S & Sutherland, K 2003. The quest for quality: a mid-term evaluation of the ten-year quality agenda. The Nuffield Trust, London.
Westwood M, Rodgers M & Sowden A 2003. Patient safety: a mapping of the research literature, NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, New York.