By Maura O Loughlin, Quality Compliance & Training Manager, Sunbeam House Services
Sunbeam House Services (SHS) is an organisation on the east coast of Ireland that provides supports to approximately 400 adults with intellectual disabilities. SHS was the first organisation in Ireland and in Europe to seek CQL Accreditation in 2001. Our aim is to provide person-directed services to the people we support. We did extensive research into the types of accreditation that were available in an international context and chose CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, as it was person-driven and encouraged feedback and collaboration from all stakeholders – people supported, direct support staff, family members, community groups etc.
The real value in our experience has been the ever-increasing expectation from the accreditation teams. This has forced us to become a life-long learning organisation and highlights the importance of having all stakeholders involved in driving the organisation. We have made some wonderful connections and had some challenging discussions, but ultimately we have grown individually and organisationally as a result of our experiences.
“It was easy to see through Sunbeam’s personalized supports, that there was a thorough culture of respect for people. There was notable attention paid to supporting people in developing social capital and leadership roles outside of formal services,” says Anne Buechner, CQL Quality Enhancement Specialist.
Our vision is driven by our ongoing partnership with CQL. We have a vision of a collaborative inclusive organisation that supports people to have a life of their choosing. Our direct support staff facilitate annual Personal Outcome Measures® interviews with the people we support and the information gathered in these guides a person-centred planning process in conjunction with the person’s supporters. Organisationally, we measure outcomes and supports for 100 people annually and this is used as an organisational benchmark to guide future planning.
One of the people we support was facilitated through Personal Outcome Measures® process to identify marriage to his then girlfriend as an outcome that he really wanted to achieve. This couple has been very happily married for many years now. Other people supported have made significant changes to their living environment, reengaged with family members or commenced employment as a result of being supported to identify outcomes that matter to them.
Opening one’s doors to be scrutinised is a very tough decision for any agency or organisation; however the quality of supports we provide to people can only be truly measured by people who are not involved in the day-to-day business of the organisation. If we wish to continuously strive to enhance people’s lives, we need honesty, objectivity and most of all, a robust measurement framework.