IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The OSCO contact information has changed. Our website address is now www.scoaf.org.uk, and our email addresses have changed. To find out more information about the changeover click here.

Ombudsman Association 2018 Conference – 25 years: Setting the standard

On the 24th May, one of our investigators helped to deliver a session as part of the annual Ombudsman Association (OA) conference on assessing and reporting performance against the OA Service Standards Framework.  The framework is a set of standards that all service users can expect OA members to meet. Examples of those standards include:

Standard Members should……
Accessibility ensure that their procedures are customer focused
Professionalism ensure that if and when sharing information is necessary, it is done appropriately
Fairness work with service users without discrimination or prejudice
Transparency be transparent about their investigation with relevant service users

The presentation highlighted the progress made by a working group looking at this issue.  The working group, established and led by the Professional Practice Co-ordinator at the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, includes representatives from seven of the OA member organisations that are currently the most advanced in assessing and reporting against the standards.  You may have noticed that in our Annual Report 2017 we became one of the first of the OA members to report on how we were meeting the standards.

The purpose of the group is to discuss and share best practice. Through sharing examples of how each organisation assesses performance, the working group has been able to pinpoint some significant benefits in having a service standards framework against which to monitor performance. These include identifying areas for improvement, assessing the impact of any changes we may make to our approach, and learning from changes that similar organisations have made. After all, it is all well and good to say an organisation is customer focused, but when you try and show objective evidence to support that you may find that performance has actually dropped from previous years, or that you don’t capture feedback on all the relevant areas. From our perspective, and the working group’s perspective, there is no better way to learn how to improve in a particular area than to look and see what work your closest peers have done to ensure they meet that same standard.

This work is still in the early stages,  but we hope that in years to come our service users will be able to see exactly how we, or any of the OA members for that matter, ensure that we continue to deliver the kind of service that we aspire to and have confidence in the work of our organisation. That is why we are committed to supporting the OA in encouraging member organisation to assess themselves against these standards for the benefit of all.