A charity for carers in West Lothian has shown its commitment to putting service users first and won a top awards for its quality of service
A West Lothian charity has won an award that marks it out as one of the most committed organisations in Scotland to quality services.
Carers of West Lothian, which provides information and support to unpaid carers of all ages and in all caring situations, is the first organisation in the country to be accredited with the PQASSO Quality Mark at Level 3.
PQASSO is a tailor-made quality assurance system for small organisations and awards are granted following a rigorous external accreditation process. The Quality Mark is awarded at levels 1, 2 and 3.
Mary-Denise McKernan, chief executive of Carers of West Lothian, said working to achieve the accolade as made the organisations stronger and helped it provide even better services to local carers.
"PQASSO focuses on putting the needs of our service users (carers) first. It helps us improve the quality, type and range of carer support services we provide through continuous monitoring, evaluation and review, and regular carer feedback," she said.
“It was a lot of hard work looking at all our systems and making sure everything linked together. At times we asked ourselves if it was all worth it! However, it definitely was worth all the hard work and in some respects PQASSO forced us into doing the jobs that we would otherwise have put off until another day”.
It definitely was worth all the hard work and in some respects PQASSO forced us into doing the jobs that we would otherwise have put off until another day - Mary-Denise McKernan
The organisation provides a range of services to vulnerable people caring for a family member or friend, from the provision of relevant information and emotional support, to facilitating peer support groups, individual counselling sessions, therapeutic interventions, and social opportunities or time out from their caring role.
A carer who has benefited from Carers of West Lothian’s services said: “receiving support from Carers of West Lothian and participating in peer support groups has taken away the feeling of isolation which sometimes overwhelms you in the caring role. You realise that you are not alone in this role and that is very comforting”.
Another carer said: “Now I have joined Carers of West Lothian I am happy that I have found help at last, and I am not alone.
“I have been very impressed with the services offered and can honestly say the kind, caring staff have helped me with a listening ear, advice and information when I felt completely overwhelmed and alone. I didn't think I would be eligible for any help, but they made me feel valued and worthy of support.”
The PQASSO Level 3 quality mark ensures the charity is robust and provides a level of assurance for funders of the organisation’s commitment to continuous improvement and providing high quality services.