Monday, June 26, 2017

SOLA: FOCUS ON ‘QUALITY’ TO ENSURE GREATER EQUALITY

Read the full article in Issue 56 - Winter 2016/’17 of ‘Changing Ireland’!
GOVERNANCE 


FOCUS ON ‘QUALITY’ TO ENSURE GREATER EQUALITY 

   The private sector is breathing down the neck of projects operating in the community sector and disability activists from around the country expressed strong views at Sola’s national symposium held at the University of Limerick, in December, REPORTS ALLEN MEAGHER.


   The symposium asked how organisations and individuals can move “from providing a service to being of service” and the event was targetted at disability organisation managers, volunteers and frontline staff, funders of disability services and professionals with expertise in the field of quality.
   While the event was focused on “improving services”, attendees were wary of service- orientated” language.
   Opening the event, former education minister, Jan O’Sullivan, TD, emphasised “the importance of the voice of those for whom a service is being provided and ensuring the service is of use.”
   “The late Martin Naughton fought for so long to change that culture of expecting people to take whatever is provided rather than to have control over their own lives and being able to decide what is right for them,” she said.
   She congratulated Sola’s partners for their collaboration and co-operation.
   She hoped she was “correct in interpreting what this symposium is about - that it’s about ensuring the person is at the centre of the service.”
   Reflecting Sola’s triple-backing from a national community organisation, a third-level institution and a private company, activists, academics and industrialists discussed what “quality” meant to them.
   In looking at how ‘Lean Principals’, widely used in business, can be adopted by the Community and Voluntary Sector, Billy Stack of the Disability Federation of Ireland reviewed research on “using ‘Lean Principals’ to enhance transport services for persons with a disability”.
   Examining how quality systems can help protect the people’s rights, Deirdre Nally gave a presentation on “the potential of quality systems to protect a persons’ rights as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons’ with a Disability.”
   Meanwhile, Stuart Lawlor of the National Council for the Blind talked about the practical steps needed to implement a quality management system in a community-based organisation.
   The symposium also heard about a new system called PQASSO (pronounced ‘Picaso’) which promotes eleven “core competencies”, the majority of which put the person using an organisation’s services at the centre of those services.
   Meanwhile, regarding “service-delivery”, there was some concern expressed about ‘language-creep’ whereby the lingo from the top down is adopted by those “on the frontline”.


WHAT IS SOLA?
   Based in UL, Sola aims to empower individuals 
and organisations in the community, voluntary and 
disability sector by engaging in research, education 
and training to implement proven governance and 
sustainable quality systems
   Sola is a collaboration between the Disability 
Federation of Ireland, the University of Limerick
and Johnson & Johnson.


For more info, contact Claire Gallery. T: 061-202960.


E: clairegallery@disability-federation.ie
Note: Claire is chairperson of Changing Ireland Community Media. 

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