The CECOPS Corporate Accreditation Programme
Assistive technology providers are signing up to CECOPS’ Corporate Accreditation Programme. What is it and how does it work?
CECOPS is the independent standards and accreditation body for assistive technology (AT) services e.g. digital health, telecare, and community equipment and wheelchair services.
CECOPS has developed outcome-based quality frameworks for the procurement and provision of the various assistive technology services, and is working with approximately 200 AT services, UK-wide.
CECOPS aims not only to ensure services deliver quality outcomes, but that organisations strive to continuously improve.
When assistive technology services are being commissioned, it is often a requirement within tender specifications for providers to be accredited by CECOPS. Accreditation is gained via an assessment of services, undertaken by our independent ISO qualified team.
Many of the organisations which have become accredited under the CECOPS scheme have started out by achieving accreditation for a single service or contract, often because a commissioner has required it for their specific contract. This is also the standard approach for in-house and smaller providers.
However, for larger providers which deliver a number of services across the UK, to have CECOPS assess their services on a piecemeal basis can become time consuming and involve duplication, especially where corporate policies are in place across all an organisation’s services. For this reason, there is growing interest in the corporate programme among the large providers, with some having already opted for the programme. The corporate programme helps to enable a coherent and synergised approach to gaining CECOPS accreditation for all relevant services.
What does CECOPS Corporate Accreditation involve?
The CECOPS Corporate Accreditation Programme is designed to deliver a robust certification process which appropriately balances an adequate level of scrutiny against the ability to take assurance from the application of corporate policies and processes.
As always, quality is our main aim, so we ensure that all services covered by the corporate programme receive an on-site visit prior to accreditation being awarded. This is necessary to provide us, commissioners, providers and the people using the services with the assurance that each service we are awarding accreditation to is meeting our quality standards; it is virtually impossible to ascertain this otherwise. In our experience, local variances in how a service is commissioned and funded can result in considerable variation in how a service operates, even within an organisation with robust corporate systems in place.
Each local service area receives its own full assessment report which highlights findings, evidence submitted, plus any non-conformities. The comprehensive report also suggests improvements to the service or system, where relevant. In addition, a corporate report is produced which summarises themes and trends from across all operations and suggests improvements which could be made to corporate systems, processes and policies.
The service-specific reports can be shared with local commissioners (where this is a requirement of the contract); whilst the corporate report is ideal for board oversight and scrutiny.
We have been asked why we don’t just look at head office operations and take sample checks at some of the local services. While this may be applicable in some settings, we don’t believe this is appropriate with these types of services, not only because the lack of adequate scrutiny could allow poor practice to hide under the radar, but also because AT services are often provided to vulnerable people, and the risks involved demand a more serious outlook to be taken than a brief tick-box exercise. Also, commissioners often want reports for their individual service.
For the CECOPS Accreditation badge to maintain its respect and be meaningful, to commissioners, providers and citizens using services, it is important that we don’t compromise on quality.
It is heartening that some of the largest and best-known providers of AT services in the UK agree with us on this, and have embraced the CECOPS Corporate Accreditation Programme. For example, two of the largest assistive technology (AT) providers, NRS Healthcare and Medequip, became the first companies to receive corporate accreditation from CECOPS.
NRS Healthcare have gained corporate accreditation for all of its community equipment and wheelchair services contracts throughout the UK, and Medequip likewise has gained corporate accreditation for all of its community equipment services.
Jerry Benson, NRS’ CEO, says the CECOPS corporate accreditation will help it to deliver “the highest possible standard of service to its customers”. He comments: “Working to the CECOPS outcome-based quality framework across community equipment and wheelchair services, and being independently assessed against this, has helped us immensely.
Meanwhile, Marie Martinalli, head of SHEQ and governance at Medequip, says: “Working with CECOPS across all our community equipment services has assisted Medequip in developing and enhancing good practice within our organisation. It is very customer outcome-based and has enabled us to demonstrate assurance, that we deliver a safe and quality service.”
If you are a provider of assistive technology services e.g. telecare, community equipment, wheelchair services, digital health, across multiple locations, and you are interested in gaining CECOPS’ Corporate Accreditation, please get in touch.
01494 863398 or 07511667330