Page 1

EQUASS Annual Report


Content Editorial

page 3

EQUASS certification: proof of successful implementation of the European quality criteria in Social Services of General Interest

page 4

EQUASS Certifications 2012

page 6

General overview


Certifications highlights


Local Licence holders

page 9

Interview with an EQUASS Local Licence Holder

p. 12

EQUASS Auditors

page 15

EQUASS trainings


EQUASS Projects

page 16

Prime project

p. 16

Benchmarking quality with EQUASS

p. 17

EQUASS Quality Control

page 17

EQUASS Events and PR

page 18

EPR public affairs event

p. 18

QUALL conference in Austria

p. 19

Vocational Rehabilitation Conference in Slovenia

p. 19

Local License Holders summit in Norway

p. 19

EQUASS presentation in Hungary

p. 19

EQUASS Stakeholder Committee meeting in Lithuania

p. 20

EQUASS Introduction seminar in Estonia

p. 20

Publications about EQUASS

page 21

EQUASS on-line communication

page 22

EQUASS Structures and Staff

page 23

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Editorial Dear readers, Interest is growing among public authorities, services providers, users and other stakeholders in the debate on the quality of social services. On the one hand, they share the view that social services need to be more person-centered, and focused on outcomes. On the other hand, the growing competitive environment of social service provision calls for guarantees to a minimum quality, and impartial quality recognition at European level. During 2012, EQUASS proves more than ever to be the most adequate system to assess the quality of a social service against the sector-specific quality principles as defined by the major sectoral stakeholders and the European authorities. Moreover, EQUASS is increasingly recognised as a tool to assist serviceproviders in facing the challenges of today, and in complying with the requirements of the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities. The main challenge remains to maintain one European system that is operated in the specific context of so many different national, regional and local environments. Local License Holders, the involvement of the major stakeholders within a country, documentation in various languages and the use of local auditors are some of the instruments to successfully concretise this ‘think European, act local’ approach. We are however careful not to modify the EQUASS system itself, as all service-users throughout Europe are entitled to high quality services. 115 organisations received an EQUASS certification during 2012, which results in a total of 450 social service providers throughout Europe that have proven to comply with the quality requirements as set out the European Quality Framework for Social Services. But a more important result is that 90.000 persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups are guaranteed a service of high quality service. Those numbers demonstrate that EQUASS succeeded in passing from the stage of discussing about quality, to make quality a reality in practice. This annual report 2012 intends to give an insight in both the activities and the results of EQUASS, but also highlights some of the challenges in operating a European quality system. The results presented in this report are encouraging, and reinforce our commitment to engage social service providers in quality and continuous improvement. We strongly believe that EQUASS can in this way make a substantial contribution to guaranteeing service-users quality of services throughout Europe. Yours sincerely,

Jan Spooren EQUASS Manager

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS certification: proof of successful implementation of the European quality criteria in Social Services of General Interest Social Services of General Interest (SSGI) are a particular manifestation of the relationship between society and its members, concentrating on the social needs of individuals and specific groups. SSGI aim to implement fundamental social, economic and participatory rights of the person on the basis of the concepts of equality, equal opportunities and social justice. They intend to enable citizens to exercise their rights. SSGI are a concrete form of societal solidarity and contribute substantially to social cohesion and implementation of the values of European society (1). A ‘paradigm shift’ in attitude and approach towards the role and position of service users in SSGI can be identified. In this new attitude and approach, service users of SSGI have not been viewed as ‘objects’ of charity, medical treatment, caretaking and social protection. Rather they are considered and viewed as persons with rights who are able to (or should be supported to) claim those rights and make decisions in their lives based on free and informed consent as well as being active members of society. The new attitude and approach to service users is expressed in human rights conventions and declarations (2) and has substantial consequences for quality concepts used in the provision of social services: the recognition of persons served in making choices and having control over their own life. As for the Commission strategy supporting the quality of social services across the EU, the European Commission developed, within the Social Protection Committee, a voluntary European Quality Framework (EQF). This voluntary European Quality Framework aims to develop a common understanding on the quality of social services within the EU by identifying quality principles that these services should fulfil.

All EQUASS certification programmes are based on the same framework: the 10 Principles for Quality including the 50 underlying criteria

Continuous improvement

Rights Ethics



Partnership Participation

Result orientation

Person-centred approach Comprehensiveness

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS and SSGI (continued) The implementation of this Quality Framework is voluntary. As most social services are highly dependent on public funding (3), a consensus on the quality of social services in the present context when public authorities in the Member States are exposed to growing financial constraints will help policy-makers to prioritise investments that promote continuous development of both quality and cost-effectiveness of social service provision. The European Quality in Social Services (EQUASS) is a certification program based on three European Quality Frameworks: the European Quality Framework for Social Services (4), the Common Quality Framework for Social Services of General Interest (5) and the European Quality Reference Framework for VET (6). In the cross reference study (7) an examination was carried out to establish if, and into what extent, the EQUASS Assurance certification program complies with the voluntary European Quality Framework (EQF). The conclusion of the study states that EQUASS certification requirements meet the principles and criteria set out in the EQF. All principles and criteria, expressed in the EQF, are included in the EQUASS requirements for certification. EQUASS assurance certification therefore can be considered as an instrument to show compliance and satisfactory performance on all EQF principles and quality criteria. More than 450 social service providers in 13 European countries have shown that they have implemented the European quality criteria successfully.

1. Integrated Social Services in Europe, Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg 2007. 2. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, New York, 2006; The European Social Charter (revised), Strasbourg, 1996; The European Charter on Rights and Freedom of older persons in Residential Care, Maastricht, 1993. 3. See Biennial report on social services of general interest, SEC(2008) 2179 final of 2 July 2008, section 2.2.1. 4. A Voluntary European Quality Framework, SPC/2010/10/8 final, Social Protection Committee, 2010 5. The Common Quality Framework for Social Services of General Interest, European Platform for Rehabilitation, October 2012 6. Quality Reference Quality Framework for Vocational Education and Training, European Parliament 2009. 7. Cross reference study European Quality Framework and the European Quality for Social Services, European Platform for Rehabilitation, September 2012.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Certifications in 2012 EQUASS certified organisations represent a wide range of service provision to clients. Their services range from permanent adapted work or sheltered workshops (over 70% of all certified organisations in 2012) to supported employment (over 31%) or labour market or occupational training such as vocational training, on the job training or work preparation for in inclusive and sheltered work place (63%). Their clients can choose from various training possibilities, from sectors such as healthcare and hospitality industry to crafts and commercial occupations and computer-based work (web design, computer programming). A great number of EQUASS certified organisations also serve children and youngster with disabilities with the following types of services: kindergarten and respite care services, early intervention (pre-school) and special needs education; sports, culture, and leisure activities; family support; and psychological and medical services. As of the end of 2012, the total number of EQUASS certified organisations were serving around 90.000 persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups; and employing over 19.000 staff members. Those numbers demonstrate the real impact of EQUASS on the social services sector, and on service delivery to people with disabilities or other disadvantages.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Overview 2012

2 EQUASS Excellence organisations awarded in 2012

113 EQUASS Assurance organisations awarded in 2012

In 2012, EQUASS was awarded in 7 countries (total number of countries with EQUASS certified organisations : 13)

By the end of 2012, there were 452 certified organisations in Europe. That number includes the organisations awarded in 2011 and prior whose certification was still valid by the 31st of December 2012.

Certifications highlights First EQUASS Assurance certification in Sweden Personal Ombud SKĂ…NE in Sweden was the first EQUASS awarded organisation in its country. The new member of the EQUASS family is a non-profit organisation run by its users. It provides Personal Ombud or Ombudsmen (PO) for psychiatric patients. The Ombudsman or PO system is a Swedish innovation, derived from the Swedish psychiatric reform of 1995. A PO is a professional, highly skilled person, who acts entirely to the benefit of the psychiatric patient. The PO is not tied to the psychiatry or social services or any other authority, and not with the patient's relatives or others in his surroundings.

A stable market in Norway With a hundred certifications in 2012, the Norwegian implantation reached a stable volume in its market share, which represents above 90% of all quality certifications for disability service providers in Norway. Indeed, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Organisation (NAV) had demanded of those service providers that they choose one of three certifications systems and implement it, failing which they would not receive the necessary funding to continue their activities. The new objective of the Licence Holder EQUASS Norge is to introduce the system in new sectors of social services in order to diversify their activities.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Certifications highlights (continued) Large multi-site application in RehabCare, Ireland

Josefsheim’s second recertification, the first time they were awarded the quality mark was in the fall of 2006. The centers audited Josefsheim Bigge, Josefshaus Lipperode and Haus Bruno serves over a thousand service users and employs over 250 staff.

18 sites of the organisation RehabCare underwent an EQUASS Assurance external evaluation, in a major multi-site audit. The operation was carried by two experienced auditors, who simultaneously toured the country, visiting sites in all corners of Ireland. The outcome of the audit was positive, and resulted in the 18 sites receiving their award.

Preparing for 35 Excellence audits in Portugal

RehabCare provides a range of health & social care services through its resource centres across Ireland, where they serve over 3.000 persons.

EQUASS Excellence awarded to CRPG (Portugal) and Josefsheim Bigge (Germany)

The EQUASS Excellence mark was awarded to two organisations in 2013, one in Portugal and one in Germany. CRPG, or Centro de Reabilitação Profissional de Gaia in Portugal, is no stranger to EQUASS Excellence. Their first certification with what was previously called the EQRM (European Quality in Rehabilitation Mark) took place in late 2003. This means CRPG has maintained its commitment for excellence in quality for almost 10 years, which is a feat no other organisation has accomplished before. This is CRPG’s third re-certification, which is also a first in the history of EQUASS. The organisation Josefsheim gGmbH in Olsberg, Germany was also awarded with a re-certification of their rehabilitation services in 2013. This is

One of the main tasks of 2012 for the EQUASS Secretariat was to prepare for the audits of 35 Portuguese organisations preparing for EQUASS Excellence. The audits are set to take place in 2013. This sharp increase in the umber of audits can be credited to a programme funded by the European Social Fund, the Arquimedes project, and managed by the organisation Programa Operacional Potencial Humano (POPH), which aims to use EQUASS as a certification tool to build capacity among the Portuguese rehabilitation providers for persons with disabilities. Under the axis 6.4 - Qualidade dos Serviços e Organizações, POPH has been financially supporting these service providers in adopting and implementing management practices that ensure quality levels desired and expected by the beneficiaries, their families, funders, regulators and society. Since 2010, the Archimedes has also supported over a hundred Portuguese rehabilitation providers to people with disabilities in acquiring the EQUASS Assurance quality mark. The year 2013 is announced to be a defining year for EQUASS Excellence, and the implementation of the Arquimedes programme in Portugal.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Local Licence Holders (LLH) The dissemination and expansion of EQUASS in Europe is assisted by a set of local representatives, called Local Licence Holders. The LLH serve as a local intermediary between the EQUASS customers and the EQUASS Secretariat, and coordinate the certification process between applicants and auditors in the countries where an LLH is established. The EQUASS Secretariat only comes into action when the full application dossier and Audit report are submitted for approval. In Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal and Slovenia, EQUASS Assurance certification services can be obtained through the Local Licence Holders detailed hereafter. As of the beginning of 2012, EQUASS does not have a LLH in Ireland anymore, as EIQA (Excellence Ireland Quality Association) has stopped its LLH function. All Irish certification requests are dealt with directly by the EQUASS Secretariat. For EQUASS Assurance certification in countries other than those listed above, and for EQUASS Excellence certification in all of Europe, applications are made directly to the EQUASS Secretariat, based in Brussels, Belgium. The EQUASS Secretariat in no way outsources or delegates to the Local Licence Holder the decision on awarding the Quality Mark, but trains, supports and monitors the LLH. National Stakeholder Committees are established in countries where the volume of certifications (actual or expected) is significant, and requires to consult with the sector actors for input and scrutiny on the role and implementation of EQUASS in the country. The Committee consultation and comments benefit the cycle of continuous improvement for both for the LLH and the management of EQUASS in Brussels.

Estonia Astangu Vocational Rehabilitation Center, EQUASS Eesti Astangu 27, Tallinn 13519 , Estonia Tel. +372 6877 223 Contact person: Keiu Talve Astangu Vocational Rehabilitation Center was founded in 1995 under the administration of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Astangu is the only vocational rehabilitation service provider in Estonia with clients all over country and has a supportive role for the Ministry in decision making process. EQUASS Assurance has been implemented in Estonia in 2010 and 2011 with the support of the European Social Fund. This has resulted in 6 certified organisations. Astangu has been acting as EQUASS Local Licence Holder in Estonia since January 2012 after having practiced this role in 2010 and 2011, thanks to the ESF capacity-building funds. The National Stakeholders Committee consists of representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Social Insurance Board, the Estonian Quality Association, the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People and service provider Tallinn Mental Health Center.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS LLH (continued)

Germany EQUASS Deutschland c/o: Josefsheim Bigge gGmbH Heinrich-Sommer-Str. 13 - 59939 Olsberg Tel: +49 2962 800 225 Fax: +49 2962 803 872 25 Contact person: Winfried Henke EQUASS Deutschland is operated by the Brüsseler Kreis, a collaboration of the major Protestant and Catholic social enterprises in Germany. The Brüsseler Kreis is active in providing care for persons with disabilities, the elderly, youth and in education. With about 40 000 workers and more than 35 000 inpatient, partly-in patient and out-patient care clients, they serve about 100 000 persons yearly, with a turnover of around € 1.7 billion. EQUASS Deutschland is represented by the organisation Josefsheim Bigge, located in Olsberg.

Lithuania Valakupiai Rehabilitation Centre (VRC) Vaidilutés str. 69 Vilnius LT-10100 - Lithuania Tel: +370 5 2477542 Contact person: Natalja Markovskaja or VRC, a public organisation funded under the Ministry of Social Affairs, has a leading role in promoting quality in the Vocational Rehabilitation sector in Lithuania. VRC provides medical and vocational rehabilitation services, social day care, practical driving assessment and a driving school for people with disabilities. VRC was also the recipient of the EQUASS Excellence Mark in 2011. The services audited serve over 100 persons and employ over 100 staff members.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Norway EQUASS Norge AS Postboks 5473, Majorstuen 0305 Oslo Phone: +47 23 08 86 50 Contact persons: Andreas Tømmerbakke The company EQUASS Norway AS was officially established in January 2012. Before that, it was still operated as a division of the Association of Vocational Rehabilitation Enterprises (AVRE), an employer and interest organisation for approximately 110 not-for-profit organisations spread across Norway. These In addition, the organisations provide work preparatory trainings for persons who need to establish necessary basic skills for any job, as well as supported employment for persons in need of extensive follow-up in the open labour market. EQUASS in Norway has benefited from a tremendous boom in operations due to the decision of the NAV, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Organisation, to recognise EQUASS as one of several certification systems available to organisations providing services to people with disabilities.

Portugal Associação Portuguesa para a Qualidade - APQ Serviços Centrais Rua I do Pólo Tecnológico de Lisboa , nº 3 (Lt 24) 1600-546 Lisboa - Portugal Tel: + 351 214996210 Contact person: Carla Cunha APQ is a membership based non-profit organisation founded in 1969. Its purpose is to promote and spread knowledge and experiences in the field of quality organisational excellence, as well as practices that lead to increase the productivity between organisations in Portugal. APQ is recognised as the leading non-governmental institution of the Portuguese quality movement. APQ regroups around 2200 members, covering organisations from various sectors and dimensions, public and private, and a wide number of auditors, consultants and quality managers. APQ is also a Sectorial Standardisation Body in the field of Quality Management, responsible for three Technical Committees Quality Management, Conformity Assessment and Risk Management.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Slovenia Development unit of Employment Rehabilitation, University Rehabilitation Institute, Republic of Slovenia Linhartova 51, 1000 Ljubljana - Slovenia Tel: + 386 1 475 8 275 Contact person: Aleksandra Tabaj The development unit for vocational rehabilitation of URI in Ljubljana has a leading role in promoting quality in the vocational rehabilitation sector of Slovenia. Its role is recognised through public mandate and financially supported by the Slovenian Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs. The University Rehabilitation Institute in Ljubljana started its role as EQUASS Licence Holder in January 2011.

Interview with an EQUASS Local Licence Holder Keiu Talve Astangu VRC - EQUASS Eesti

Astangu itself). EPR was contracted as a guiding/ training/ capacity building partner in this process to support us in implementation. As the pilots were successful we went a bit wider with the implementations and supported the Ministry of Social Affairs to set quality criteria for the rehabilitation service providers into the law. By then it was clear we needed a LLH to manage all these applications so we signed a LLH agreement in the beginning of 2012. How would you describe your experience of operating the licence of EQUASS Assurance certification process in your country?

When and why did you start your activity as LLH (Local Licence Holder) of EQUASS? Implementation of EQUASS Assurance in Estonia started in 2010 with the pilot project ran by Astangu VRC and with the support of European Social Fund. The project lasted for 2 years and we had 7 brave pilots (rehabilitation service providers) to first implement the quality system (including

Implementing EQUASS has been possible with the support of ESF funding so we are not totally independent and sustainable. After the pilot we started with another 2-year cycle with 35 service providers (incl. welfare, rehabilitation, different services offered by local authorities). This process will be finished in the end of 2013 and what comes after this is unclear. The new Social Welfare Act that includes the quality requirements for the rehabilitation service providers will hopefully be accepted by the end of 2013.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Interview with an EQUASS LLH (continued) For EQUASS Estonia, it is more than just being a license holder for EQUASS Assurance. Our responsibilities and intentions are a bit wider: to promote quality of social services in Estonia, to keep the quality topic “on the table� when developing the services, to put pressure on the Ministry of Social Affairs to better regulate the services; to carry out the analyses of the possible future developments of the quality requirements and so on. What have been the greatest challenges and the greatest achievements?

possible to the applicants in your country, or offer a wider dissemination of the quality mark? In autumn 2012 we started with a wider analysis of the social sector from the perspective of quality. The researcher carries out interviews of different stakeholders and is mapping all the existing systems, regulations of the quality issues that are concerned with the quality of social services. This spring we go on with strategy seminars to most important decision makers (The Ministry of Social Affairs) to decide on the next step to be taken to regulate the sector, the services, the financing of

The greatest achievement was of course winning the annual prise of Estonian Quality AssociationThe Achievement of the Year 2011. We competed with big international and local companies with long history in quality implementation. The argument of winning the prize was the scope of our activities - not a single company or enterprise but Estonia as a whole, as the pilots in the first project period were from different places of Estonia and our aim is to have an influence on all the social services in Estonia.

the services. By the end of this year we hope to

The biggest challenge even now is to stay in business, to secure sustainability of LLH in Estoniato support the Ministry in making good decisions; to convince the funders and service providers about the need of raising quality of services; to build up capacity to be able to support service providers in development of quality and implementation of the quality system.

Quality Association and consists of 8 full days of

How is the perception of EQUASS as a European system with a local partner in your country? EQUASS is getting more and more known in Estonia. For those who implement the system the first time, it is of course a big step to take. First, to understand the system, the principles, the criteria and then to try to integrate the system into their daily work. For those who already have got the certificate, it is very much appreciated and they see the real benefits of having a quality system implemented and living with it.

have a strategy for quality development and concrete action plans to move towards the aims we have set. Hopefully the sector will benefit a lot from this initiative! At the same time we are training representatives of most





management and the theoretical and historical aspects on quality development in the world. This training programme is carried out by the Estonian lectures and practical work. These two above mentioned actions are carried out within a project that we wrote in 2012 and that was financed by ESF. When planning the future activities we see a bigger need to support service providers in understanding quality, its implementation and its development. We need overall capacity building on quality and with the dissemination of EQUASS in Estonia all the work for creating awareness has a very practical dimension in it. Where do you see EQUASS Assurance in 3 to 5 years of time in your country? If everything goes according to plan, then I see it ruling within social services- on top of the list!

Could you give us an insight on some developments that you are planning to implement in order to offer the best service

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Interview with an EQUASS LLH (continued) Carla Cunha APQ - Associação Portuguesa para a Qualidade (Portugal) EQUASS Portugal

When and why did you start your activity as LLH (Local Licence Holder) of EQUASS? APQ - the Portuguese Association for Quality has started its activity as a LLH of EQUASS in 2009. How would you describe your experience of operating the licence of EQUASS Assurance certification process in your country? APQ is a not-for-profit organisation with over 40 years of activity undertaken for the promotion of quality and organisational excellence. It has been very rewarding to make a contribution in the dissemination of EQUASS in Portugal and to cooperate in the introduction of the concepts of quality and continuous improvement in the delivery of social services, an area that in this context was still undeveloped. What have been the greatest challenges and the greatest achievements? Social sector organisations recognise the gains from the implementation of a quality model such as EQUASS, not only for the management of the business point of view, but mainly for the social approach, customer focused, since they do not have a history of a quality culture. However, it was not always easy to explain the concepts, principles and the costs associated with the process. Today, we believe these barriers have been overcome, and the most extraordinary is to verify the willingness to change, to learn and to improve that organisations have shown, and, after 3 years as LLH, when we get in touch with staff and/or top management, they recognise the significant improvements that EQUASS brought them, both internally and from external stakeholders.

From the feedback we have had, the fact that there is a national intermediary in this process of certification is quite positive. Not only for being an enabler in terms of language, as many of the employees of these organisations do not speak English, but also for the proximity and ease of contact, to answer questions, provide quick, clear and precise information and solve issues. Could you give us an insight on some developments that you are planning to implement in order to offer the best service possible to the applicants in your country, or offer a wider dissemination of the quality mark? The latest improvements we have implemented in Portugal, and is being very well received by organisations, was the introduction of the bilingual audit report. The report continues to be written in English, but the opportunities for improvement, the action plan and close remarks are also written in Portuguese. Some time ago, we were also approached by some organisations to create a flag with the EQUASS logo, so that the fact that the organisation has been certified becomes more visible to the surrounding society, so we are also considering offering this product to interested organisations. Where do you see EQUASS Assurance in 3 to 5 years of time in your country? I hope that, despite the enormous financial crisis that our country is experiencing, that organisations survive without neglecting the quality of their services and recognize the associated sustainability. We expect that the model will grow to other areas beyond rehabilitation, something that is already starting to wake up, and that customers / clients / people served and society in general recognise the gains from being certified with EQUASS Assurance.

How is the perception of EQUASS as a European system with a local partner in your country?

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Auditors EQUASS Trainings 2012 Trainings In 2012, EQUASS organised 6 trainings:  Four EQUASS Assurance Auditor trainings (in Tallinn, Oslo, Oslberg and Porto ).  One EQUASS Excellence Auditor trainings(in Amadora).  One EQUASS Assurance consultant training in Vilnius In total, 77 participants have attended these trainings, new auditors, experienced auditors looking to update their auditing skills and understanding of the newly updated EQUASS Framework, as well as EQUIASS Consultants active in other quality systems  19 EQUASS Assurance auditors have been nominated for the first time, or have renewed their nomination as a recognised Assurance Auditor.  11 EQUASS Excellence auditors have been nominated for the first time, or have renewed their nomination as a recognised Excellence Auditor. 6 new EQUASS Consultants have been trained. Each training resulted in an evaluation from the participants of the quality of the training. With an answer rate over 80% , the participants could grade various aspects of the trainings between 1 (very poor) and 5 (excellent). Here are the average of the 2012 results: Overall Quality of training: 4,5 - Content of the training: 4,53 - Relevance of the training for your organisation: 4,17 - Quality of the trainer / facilitator: 4,84 - Quality of the venue: 4,13

New requirements for EQUASS Auditors In 2012, EQUASS implemented a new system, validated by the EQUASS Awarding Committee, instituting a credits system for EQUASS Assurance and Excellence auditors. The objective of the credits system is to ensure that auditors are regularly trained and updated in their auditing techniques, via a combination of theoretical training and practical experience at the applicants. The new EQUASS procedures regarding the involvement and nomination of auditors can be consulted on training/156

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Projects PRIME Project The PRIME project, short for PRoject for IMplementation of Equavet, is funded under the Lifelong Learning Programme, a Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation Action, and is led by the REA College Nederland, in the Netherlands. The project was launched on 21 November 2011 and will run until 2013. PRIME aims to use EQUASS as a tool for the implementation of the EQAVET framework for quality in the provision of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Europe. The project will support the implementation of EQUAVET in 6 providers of VET services for persons with disabilities in 5 EU countries. For the PRIME Project, the year 2012 was focused on training the service providers in how to understand and implement the system . The quality professionals from the six vocational training providers were trained in the art of self evaluation and dissemination of the quality culture in their organisation. As part of its support activities, EQUASS developed two documents in relation to the Prime Project: 

EQUASS Certification: A tool for VET providers to show compliance with the EQARF for VET

Cross-reference study on EQAVET

The documents can be read at the following links: More information about the results and deliverables of the PRIME Project can be found at:

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Benchmarking quality with EQUASS On 20 and 21 September 2012, 20 participants indicators of benchmarking and bench learning. participated in a benchmarking event, which was provided by the EPR as part of its Centre Action Plan joint actions. The event took place at Fundação AFID, an EPR member who was awarded with the EQUASS Excellence recognition in 2011.

The evaluation of the bench marking event show a high appreciation by all participants for AFID’s facilitation of the event (9,8) and the trainer of the event (9,3). (Scale 1-10).

All participants prepared the event in detail by identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and showing their performance on the EQUASS criteria for






Orientation, Staff and Continuous Improvement. At the event, the participants learned about the challenges, opportunities, limitation and pitfalls of bench marking by discussing concrete examples coming from the social health care and education sector.






preparatory work and experienced the challenge of defining common and valid KPIs for similar criteria in various contexts so information about performance can easily be compared. Two EPR members, Josefs Gesellschaft (JG Gruppe) and the Association of Vocational Rehabilitation Enterprises






EQUASS Quality Control and complaint management EQUASS strives for continuous improvement, and has implemented a series of procedures used to address complaints and resolve disputes. The EQUASS complaint process is available to all and can be consulted at the following link: In 2012, the EQUASS Secretariat received 1 formal complaint, from Portugal The table below gives an overview of the complaint received in 2012, and how it was dealt with. Reason for the complaint Complaint about the performance of the EQUASS Unit

Number of complaints 1



An organisation complained The situation was resolved to that a package containing the satisfaction of the client. certificates had not been received, EQUASS Secretariat resolved the matter within days by sending another package to the certified organsation.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Events and Public Relations EPR Public Affairs event On 6 December 2012 the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) organised a Public Affairs Event in the premises of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Directors and managers from EPR member organisations throughout Europe were sat at the table with member networks of ‘Social Services Europe’ as well as a wide range of user organisations, funders and policy-makers to discuss the role of quality in the draft Directive on Public Procurement (COM) 2011/896. The proposal for a directive on public procurement (COM) 2011/896, communicated in December of 2011, has gathered a lot of interest from social service providers across Europe. Following intensive lobby activities of the sectorial stakeholders, the draft directive has enhanced the focus on quality and specificity of social services. Ms. Concetta Cultrera, Head of the Social Protection and Social Services Unit of the European Commission, and Ms. Birgit Sippel, Member of the European Parliament (DE), clarified some pending and vague issues related to the application of the public procurement rules in the field of social services and raised new perspectives in ensuring the respect of quality dimension.

those sectors which are not so familiar with the so called ‘market approach’, the concept of benchmarking may increase the overall performance of the service providers and give some pressure on the cost of the delivered services to the individual. Mr. van Beek gave some examples of research on benchmarking in social healthcare and education in the Netherlands and the US. Based on these examples some doubts have been shown on the usefulness of benchmarking especially in the way benchmarking is carried out and how the results are presented. He concluded that it is possible to measure the Principles and the criteria of the European Quality Framework for Social Services. The two EQUASS certification programs have proven to be a valuable instrument to proove the quality of the services provide by more than 450 rehabilitation service providers in 15 European countries.

Guus van Beek, EQUASS key expert, contributed to the EPR Public Affair event by showing how the Principles of the European Quality Framework for Social Services can be measured and how evidences of successful implementations can be provided. He emphasised the importance of measuring the Principles of the European Quality Framework by giving examples of the EQUASS certification programs. He focused also on the challenge in identifying and defining valid indicators for measuring and the challenges in using these indicators in benchmarking. The emphasis on benchmarking fits in the nowadays trends of performance measurement and transparency. Especially in

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


QUALL Conference in Austria On 5 and 6 November 2012, the final conference of the thematic Network QUALLL on quality assurance in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education took place in Vienna. Guus van Beek was invited as external expert by the Dutch National Agency for the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme. At the conference Leonardo da Vinci projects which have been selected as lighthouse project, had the opportunity to present the results. The project EQUASS in Practice has been said to be a ‘best practice project’ and Andreas

Tommerbakke (project leader, AVRE) and Guus van Beek (Key Expert, EQUASS) presented the results of this project and promoted the EQUASS certification programs to potential VET-providers/ stakeholders. The experiences of the various projects were presented and exchanged in smaller international workshops. At the QUALLL conference other opportunities have been explored by investigating possible cooperation with other initiatives to promote quality assurance in the VET sector. The attendance at the QUALLL conference leads to the initiative to exchange information and carry out a cross-reference study between EQUASS and the European Quality Mark (for VET). The cross-reference study will be finalised in the first quarter of 2013.

Vocational Rehabilitation Conference in Slovenia On 25 September 2012 Guus van Beek, EQUASS Key expert presented the value of EQUASS certification for VET-providers at the Conference on Vocational Rehabilitation in Portoroz, Slovenia. Around 160 professionals working in the Vocational Rehabilitation sector received a presentation of the EQUASS system, and the various methods for implementing a quality standard in the SSGI sector.

Local Licence Holders Summit in Norway On 26 June 2012, the EQUASS unit held a meeting in Fevik, Norway, gathering most Local Licence Holders and one potential, on the margins of the EPR Annual Conference. The meeting purpose was both an information session on the preliminary findings of the ISO 17021 feasibility study, as well as a consultation on the impact of the ISO standard which recognises quality in the operation of a certification body. The

seminar also featured a lively debate about the current role of the Licence Holders, best practises in marketing, dissemination and stakeholder consultation, and the potential structural changes arising from the efforts in further professionalising all levels and processes of the EQUASS certification, and eliminating potential conflicts of interest. The meeting participants represented the EQUASS Assurance Licence Holders of Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia, and representatives from Denmark. The seminar facilitators were Guus van Beek and Marie Dubost, of the EQUASS Unit.

EQUASS Presentation in Hungary On the 4th April Guus van Beek, EQUASS Key expert presented the EQUASS certification system to the Ministry of State of Hungary, and follows to a presentation to the Staff of Merek. The presentation included the EQUASS implementation strategy at macro level, and the steps of a potential Pilot project aiming at introducing EQUASS in Hungary.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Events (continued) EQUASS Stakeholder Committee meeting in Lithuania On 7 June, the Lithuanian Local License Holder held an EQUASS stakeholder committee meeting, in order to consult national stakeholders on how to improve the quality of vocational rehabilitation service for people with disabilities in Lithuania. The following organisations send delegates to represent them in the Local Stakeholder Committee:  The Department for the Affairs of disabled

at The Ministry of Social Security and Labour Monitoring and control division;  The Lithuanian Paraplegic Association;  The Lithuanian organization of People with

Mental Disorders “Giedra�;

the aim to look deeper into variety of quality management systems in Europe and Lithuania and seeks to improve the quality of service in social sector. The participants acquired knowledge about the role of the National Stakeholder Committee. The event gave information for all the participants about EQUASS Local Licence Holder functions, the results of EQUASS quality system implementation in Lithuania and action plan of Local Licence Holder for year 2012. More information on

EQUASS Introduction seminar in Estonia

 The Lithuanian Association of the Blind and

Visually Handicapped;  The Lithuanian Labour Exchange at The

Ministry of Social Security and Labour Employment Support division;  The Lithuanian Association of the Deaf;  The Ministry of Health of the Republic of

Lithuania;  The

Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities;

 The Lithuanian Welfare Society for People

with Intellectual Disabilities;  The Ministry of Social Security and Labour

Social Inclusion and Communities Department Equal Opportunities Division Head of the division. The meeting was attended by one of the EQUASS quality system developers, EQUASS Key expert Guus van Beek. The meeting had

On 30 August, the Estonian Licence Holder for EQUASS Assurance ASTANGU organised an information seminar for applicants. Participants received information and training about the ESF project, EQUASS approach on Quality, the implementation strategy and the EQUASS Assurance certification programme. The training covered a summary of quality certifications, the fundamentals of the EQUASS Assurance system, discussions and workshops. The event had over 30 persons in attendance. The 2012-2013 Estonian ESF project aims to certify 25 additional social services providers by the end of 2013. The event received a satisfaction score of 4.62 over 5 (4 being "good", and 5 being "excellent"). More information on

Other Events in 2012:  EQUASS Core Group (Eindhoven, 23 and 24 April 2012.)  EQUASS Awarding Committee (Brussels, 9 May 2012

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


Publications about EQUASS Internal Publications

External Publications

New EQUASS Brochure 2012

FEANTSA and EQUASS for the homelessness sector

EQUASS updated its brochure in order to reflect the changes incurred by the new EQUASS system that started out in January 2012. Hard copies has been disseminated to all key stakeholders. If you are interested in receiving copies, please contact Marie Dubost at The EQUASS brochure is also available on the EQUASS website: (click on the image in the EQUASS box).

The Spring 2012 issue of the FEANTSA magazine Homeless in Europe focused on the debate on quality in homeless services raised in the past few years within the European agenda and linked to reflections about quality criteria in other social services. The report and more information about this important issue is available on the FEANTSA website,

Publications about EQUASS in Portugal The winter edition of APQ’s magazine Qualidade featured a highlight on EQUASS as a tool to certify social economy and third sector organisations.

The 16th edition of Diferença Magazine from Foundation AFID, also based in Portugal, focused on the topic of quality and their experiences with implementing EQUASS at the Excellence level.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Online Communication Dissemination of EQUASS Certified Organisations The quarterly lists of EQUASS Assurance certified organisations, as well as the annual list of EQUASS Excellence certified organisations can be found in

EQUASS Newsflash EQUASS has published 2 issues of the EQUASS Newsflash in 2012, in April and October as well as a special 2011 Annual Report May of 2012.

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


EQUASS Structures and Staff Composition of the EQUASS Secretariat The EQUASS Secretariat operates the EQUASS system from the offices of EPR in Brussels.  The EQUASS Manager has final say on the strategic decisions and finances, and reporting to the EPR members, owners of the system.  The EQUASS Coordinator is in charge of implementing and monitoring the annual work plan, including budget and contracts, marketing, certifications and communications with clients and auditors.  The EQUASS Key expert provides content expertise on all issues related to the certification system, developing new consultancy products, validating awarding decisions in EQUASS Assurance. The Key expert also delivers most EQUASS trainings and consultancy services. Jan Spooren

Marie Dubost

Guus van Beek

EQUASS Manager

EQUASS Coordinator

EQUASS Key Expert

Composition of the EQUASS Core Group The EQUASS Core Group is an advisory body composed of quality practitioners and experts. They provide a balanced and diversified views on the EQUASS system, processes and procedures. Their recommendations are then provided to the EQUASS Awarding Committee or the EQUASS Management, depending on the topic of the recommendations. The Core Group meets 2 to 3 times per year. Michael Crowley, RehabGroup (Ireland)

Jan Spooren, EQUASS Manager

Hubert Vornholt , Josefsheim Bigge (Germany)

Guus van Beek, EQUASS Key Expert

Ester Thunes , GREP (Norway)

Marie Dubost, EQUASS Coordinator

Composition of the EQUASS Awarding Committee The EQUASS Awarding Committee is the body in charge of validating the EQUASS Awarding criteria for EQUASS Assurance and Excellence, and approving any changes made to the certification systems of applicants and auditors. It includes various members of European social partners, funders, policy makers, service providers and service user representatives. The Awarding Committee meets 1 to 2 times per year. European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) - Mr. Frank Flannery European Social Insurance Platform (ESIP) - Mr. Wolfgang Schulz-Weidner and Mr Franz Terwey European Association for Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) - Mr. Luk Zelderloo Council of Europe (CoE) - Mr Thorsten Afflerbach Employers’ Forum on Disability - Ms. Catherine Grinyer Rehabilitation International (RI) - Mr. Jan Johansen European Federation of Older People (EURAG) - Mr. Dirk Jarré European Disability Forum (EDF) - Ms. Erzsébet Szöllösi and Ms. Simona Giarratano European Network of Social Authorities (ENSA) - Mr. Johan Lindstrom

EQUASS Annual Report 2012


What is EQUASS? The European Quality in Social Services (EQUASS) is an initiative of the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR). EQUASS provides a range of comprehensive services in the area of approval and certification of quality, all of which comply with the European requirements for quality in the provision of Social Services. The certification programmes are complementary to existing quality certification programmes at the national level and are overseen by an independent International Awarding Committee that includes representatives from key European stakeholders. EQUASS Secretariat Rue de Spa 15, 1000 Brussels, Belgium Tel +32 2 736 54 44 Fax +32 2 736 86 22 Email Website

Editor-in-chief: Jan Spooren Editors: Marie Dubost, Cinzia De Letis, Guus van Beek

EQUASS annual report 2012  
EQUASS annual report 2012