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Quality Indicators

Why This Is Important

Quality indicators are the things people use in judging the quality of a product or service. They are very important to the development and improvement of "person-centered" services since they tell service providers and product developers what they should pay the most attention to in order to have others say they are providing a "high-quality" service or product. Quality indicators are also important to persons with developmental disabilities, and to their family members and advocates in choosing what they will look for when shopping for new or different services, and what to ask for when asking for improvements in their services or the products they use. Traditionally government agencies have taken a lead in developing and using "quality indicators," especially in judging the quality of services to persons with developmental disabilities. Federal, state and local governments are interested judging quality in services because they are responsible to assure the well being of people with disabilities. Government agencies are also interested in judging the quality of services since most are supported by tax dollars. These agencies have traditionally judged the quality of services through inspections of the places where persons with developmental disabilities live, work, and receive support services. During these inspections, government agency staff members have often looked at indicators such as cleanliness, and properly completed paperwork to judge the quality of services. The problems with this approach were many. Sometimes inspectors did not have much time to talk with staff to find out how good the services were, and were even less likely to talk with the persons with disabilities who were actually using the service or their family members and other natural advocates since such conversation were not part of their checklist. In addition, these approaches did not take into account that different people need, or enjoy different things and benefit from different kinds of support to enjoy a satsfactory "qualiity of life." Traditional quality indicators used in judging services and product were often based on the idea that "one size fits all," and did not consider how a service of product met each person's individual needs. "Quality indicators" in a person-centered service system emphasize a new set of values, including the degree to which a product or service promotes: 1) self-determination and independence; 2) exercise of individual rights; 3) respect from others; and 4) full and valued community inclusion for persons with developmental disabilities; as the ultimate indicators of quality in services and products. Such quality indicators recognize that what represents "quality" often varies according to each individual using a product or service. Therefore, quality indicators in a service system based on person-centered principles allow individual persons with developmental disabilities, and those who know them best, to be the ultimate judges of quality in the services they receive and the products they use. In this department you will find sets of quality indicators that are based on a "person-centered" system of service delivery. The products in this department are chosen based on the idea that government agencies are not the only ones who are interested in judging the true quality of services and products developed for persons with developmental disabilities. Some products in this department are sets of quality indicators designed especially for use by persons with developmental disabilities, family members, and advocates, making them the ultimate judge of the quality for a program or service. Others are meant especially for service providers or product developers who are interested in pushing for greater quality in their services or products.

This web site is maintained by the Research and Training Center on Community Living with support from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Human Services Research Institute and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. E-mail weste050@umn.edu.
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