DFI Staff Member Qualifies as first PQASSO Mentor in the Republic of Ireland

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DFI is pleased to announce that Dermot O’Donnell, DFI Support Officer for Organisations, has become the first licensed PQASSO Mentor in the Republic of Ireland. PQASSO, the Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations, is a key component and support to DFI's Service Suite, and is fast becoming the most widely used quality assurance system in the community and voluntary sector in the UK.

PQASSO is an ‘off the shelf’ quality assurance system that offers a practical step-by-step approach to self-assessment by organisations against twelve quality standards. However, PQASSO is far from a bookkeeping exercise - it is all about improving the way we do our business and enhancing the services we provide to others.

In June 2008, funded by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, DFI appointed Dermot O’Donnell as Support Officer for Organisations, with specific emphasis on organisational development. Following initial research, and working closely with the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and The Wheel, PQASSO was identified as an appropriate quality assurance system for the voluntary disability sector as a process which clearly assists organisations in working more efficiently and effectively in an open, transparent and accountable manner.

In January 2009, the DFI Organisation Healthcheck was initiated with a number of member organisations, and, to date, 25 DFI member organisations, including both the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and DFI itself, are at various stages of involvement with, and implementation of, the Organisation Healthcheck and PQASSO, supported by the relevant DFI Support Officer.

Increasing organisational capacity and internal working structures are supported in DFI through its network of Support Officers. This type of organisational support has become more relevant to member organisations due to the changed working environment resulting from new legislation and monitoring, the gradual introduction of standards, and decreased funding. Examples of these changes include:

  • Charities Act 2009
  • HSE Service and Grant Aid Arrangements
  • Increasing regulation across all Government bodies
  • Economic recession and resulting decrease in statutory, philanthropic and fundraised incomes
  • Demand by funders for evidence of quality assurance and measurement of outcomes

DFI's approach over the last few years has been to develop practical responses to the changing landscape within which the community and voluntary sector operates. In early 2009, DFI formalised this by the introduction of the DFI Service Suite. Responses and initiatives that have been developed include:

  • DFI support for the involvement of member organisation in the DFI Organisation Healthcheck / PQASSO
  • DFI / Certified Public Accountants joint publication - ‘Keeping the Books’
  • DFI publication - ‘Chairpersons as Effective Leaders’
  • DFI / Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Organisations jointly run course – ‘Chairing the Organisation’
  • DFI implementation of the SKILL Programme for supervisory and support staff of DFI member organisations
  • Development of DFI Garda Vetting Networks to ensure staff and volunteers within organisations are vetted fully, in line with HSE and other Government department requirements
  • DFI support for the introduction of Human Resource Support Services through Adare Human Resource Management

Organisational supports will continue to be developed by DFI, in collaboration with our partners, The Wheel and Carmichael Centre, to ensure that organisations can continue to provide a quality service to members / service users.

For further information on Organisation Healthcheck and PQASSO, contact Dermot O’Donnell on 01 425 0125 / 086-780 8639, dermotodonnell@disability-federation.ie or your DFI Support Officer. There is also information available at One World Trust.

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