Enjoy retirement thanks to ISO 9001

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Supporting our seniors and helping them to maintain an independent lifestyle has been ACPPAʼs mission for over 30 years. To substantiate its approach, the not-for-profit Group that manages care homes and services for senior citizens has deployed ISO 9001 throughout its management system in the quest for quality services.

The once unfavourable image associated with old peopleʼs homes has evolved dramatically, thanks in particular to modern, bright and spacious facilities where residents enjoy personalized care and support, dispensed by a proficient multidisciplinary team.

As we get older, the desire to “stay in your own home” is pitted against the challenges of day-to-day living. The ACPPA Group care homes offer residents the solutions that meet their needs while reflecting their level of autonomy, and combines a lively social life, high-quality accommodation and a wide range of activities with essential care services.

This level of quality requires unwavering commitment and dedication, underpinned by a process that must be continually reviewed and developed. But how do you sustain the quest for excellence? ACPPA relies on various quality models, including national service standards and ISO 9001, which it implements in the Groupʼs fifty or more care homes across France. Laurentia Palazzo, Quality & Communication Director for the Group, tells us how ISO 9001:2015 is helping the organization become more efficient without compromising its human and ethical values.

ISOfocus: What are the benefits of ISO 9001:2015 on the Groupʼs different activities?
Photo: ACPPA
Laurentia Palazzo
Laurentia Palazzo, ACPPA Groupʼs Quality & Communication Director.

Laurentia Palazzo: The new requirements of ISO 9001:2015 are wholly consistent with the organizational and management changes that ACPPA wants to implement. After three cycles of certification to the 2008 edition, the Group became interested in the EFQM management model (European Foundation for Quality Management), which provides a general framework for promoting excellence in terms of operation and performance.

The new edition of the standard follows the same line. The audit we underwent to renew our ISO 9001 certification enabled us to measure precisely how far we had come and the progress made in our quest for excellence, while identifying the weaknesses we must continue to address in all of the Groupʼs activities.

How long has ACPPA Group been certified and what is the purpose of the standard?

We have, since 2005, an NF Service certification for “in-home personal services” (based on NF X50-056), which is one of the leading European marks for quality, reliability and professionalism of services. We also have an SGS Qualicert certification covering our residential facilities for dependent older persons. In 2007 we opted for a combined certification including ISO 9001 for both our accommodation and our residential and in-home care services, our health training division and our head office. The standard has helped us establish a coherent and consistent framework by which to manage the Groupʼs quality management system (QMS) in all of our activities and processes.

For as long as we have had our quality scheme, we have viewed ISO standards, as well as our French national standards and French Law 2002-2 (of 2 January 2002) reforming the social and healthcare system, as opportunities to be seized. French legislation encourages the development of personalized plans for residents in care homes, taking into account their needs and expectations. All these requirements enable us to “grow” by allowing our organization and our QMS to evolve.

How does ISO 9001:2015 contribute to creating a dynamic within a care homeʼs community (residents, staff, families) and help sustain an optimal quality of life?

Taking into account the expectations of key interested parties in the management system – in this case, our residents, their families and our staff – is a requirement of ISO 9001 that has been strengthened in the new edition. Identifying these interested parties more precisely in order to integrate their requirements into the QMS in a more relevant way, and ensuring their needs and challenges are being taken into account, are changes we wanted to make. This is made easier with the 2015 edition of the standard.

The transition to ISO 9001:2015 also involved new evaluation methods for our auditors. Interviews with our residents and their families enabled us to confront different points of view and cross-reference available data so that we can build on existing strengths and target improvement actions for a better quality of life.

Photo: ACPPA
The over-65s are on the increase and represent a diverse population – their vitality, life stories and expectations are different. Does ISO 9001:2015 help you adapt to these various needs and requirements? How does the standard support innovation?

ISO 9001:2015 emphasizes the importance of getting to know your organizationʼs context, which is in constant flux, namely its environment (internal and external) and its interested parties. This understanding is key to the success of any organization.

Offering personalized support to our residents, through a formal Personal Support Plan, has been a stated priority of our quality improvement policy for the past two years and has been widely promoted by our managing director. Ongoing development of our QMS helps us achieve this objective. The positive impact of this “Personalized Support Plan” is measurable for everyone – residents and staff alike.

Whatʼs more, the changing demographics and expectations of an older population have led us to focus more directly on innovation, alongside the continual improvement aspect. Innovative thinking and actions are being initiated in all areas, including technology, service, management systems, etc. In fact, senior management recently decided to invest in an integrated monitoring tool for its QMS, which affords a comparative overview of our action plans, evaluations and events on each of the Groupʼs sites.

We have become gradually convinced that improvements in our performance are connected with our capacity to align the Groupʼs strategy and governance with our quality system and the way we manage risk and opportunity. The new direction assumed by ISO 9001:2015 has confirmed this intuition and our desire to develop and operate an integrated management system (IMS) based on three pillars – governance, quality management and risk management. We have already made considerable headway.

What future challenges do you foresee with regard to quality? 
Photo: ACPPA

We have just submitted an application for the Rhône-Alpes Quality & Performance Award, which recognizes companies at the regional level for their commitment to excellence, their engagement and the pertinence of their management approach. This gave us another opportunity to benchmark our performance and identify any weaknesses and areas for improvement based on the EFQM model, which particularly impressed us.

On a broader level, in January 2017 we started to deploy our new CAP 2021 project, focused on our Groupʼs increased commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) over the next five years. With this in mind, we hope to provide a direction to all stakeholders involved in our activity: our employees, our partners and our customers (i.e. our residents and their families).

Thanks to changes in the standardʼs requirements, the ISO 9001:2015 certification – coupled with the Groupʼs annual QMS audit – plays a large part in the ongoing dynamic and provides a safeguard against anything that might lead us off the path to excellence.

Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis
Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

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Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis
Editor-in-Chief of ISOfocus