Working as Quality Checkers
Stephen Merriman and Laura Minett are employed by Choice Support as Quality Checkers. Here they share how they feel about their jobs and their experiences, and give some examples of where their involvement has changed people's lives.
Stephen says: "We work well as a team, we know what each other is good at. If one of us is not pulling their weight we find out why and help them. This makes a good and happy team. Cathy and Lorraine support us with transport, our planning, and report writing. They are both friendly and helpful and make sure we are well organised. Mind you, I am sometimes more organised because my memory is very good, particularly about important things about my job as a Quality Checker.
I look on Cathy as my work colleague, not my supporter, when we are quality checking. What people tell us is very personal to them. We do pick up a lot from what we observe. Recently on a quality check we were visiting someone at their home and they were telling us about lack of privacy. At one stage a member of staff walked into the lounge where we were talking privately with the person and she just came and sat on the coffee table. We kindly asked her to leave."
Laura says: "We like to think that when we carry out a quality check we come over as friendly and positive. This is so the people we are speaking to have a good experience and know that we are listening to them. We have made a pack of different signs, photos and pictures that we use to help people who don't communicate with words let us know their views."
As both Stephen and Laura mentioned, what people say and want changing is very personal. With this in mind, here are a few examples of where things have changed as a result of the Quality Checkers being involved.
In one service, staff said all service users had to be in bed by eight thirty because the sleep-in staff came on duty and the afternoon staff went home. The staff rota is now written around the needs and wishes of the people receiving the service.
In another service tenants had to pay for two TV licences, one for the lounge and one for their bedroom. Now they don't.
One person said: "I'm not allowed to get my own prescription. The support staff do it for me." This person is now supported so that she can collect her own prescription and not be rushed.
In another service people didn't go in the kitchen because of worries about health and safety. Both people are now supported to go in their kitchen safely when they want, and are included in the preparing and cooking of their meals.
Stephen's final words on his job are: "We learn a lot ourselves in the job. The pay's not bad either. But seriously, though, it feels good to know that we are making a difference in making things better for people."