Case Study: Age UK Wigan Borough
Age UK Wigan Borough aims to improve the lives of older people in the borough of Wigan, through the provision of high quality services. Services are designed to promote the health, well-being and social inclusion of older people and to enable them to remain as independent as possible. Age UK Wigan Borough also works as a brand partner working with the national Age UK organisation to promote the interests of older people.
Here, Carole Smith, Central Services Manager, shares her experiences of implementing and maintaining both the ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, which they have successfully maintained since 2008.
As Central Services Manager, Carole has management oversight of a range of internal activities and functions. Part of this role includes leading on organisation-wide quality initiatives, activities and accreditations. Carole explains the importance of maintaining ISO certifications in her industry;
“It is important to us that we are viewed by service users, funders, partners, and other stake-holders as a quality organisation capable of delivering services to older people that are of a high standard.”
The British Assessment Bureau (BAB) is proud to work with a large number of third sector organisations, and regional Age UK charities represent a large proportion of these clients. Carole tells us why she chose BAB over the competition:
“We went with BAB based on a number of factors including cost, perceived quality of the product (based on a presentation and contacting companies already in contract with BAB) and the fact that they had a portfolio of charity clients so were familiar with how we were structured.”
BAB first conducted a Gap Analysis (‘Stage 1’ visit) and delivered a detailed report describing all of the required actions prior to the formal Audit.
“Feedback has always been helpful and any suggestions for continuous improvement have been ‘grounded’, sensible and reasonable given the size and type of organisation that we are.”
Once an organisation is ready for a formal Audit Assessment (‘Stage 2’ visit), a Lead Assessor will make the required arrangements for the Audit to take place. Carole says of this process,
“The assessor had a good knowledge of the organisation, enabling him to ask relevant questions throughout the audit and request appropriate evidence. We were looking for reaccreditation against both ISO 9001 and 14001 and the auditor was able to streamline the audit so that duplicate information was not requested, thus saving time for the management team on the day. The assessor was thorough but friendly and approachable in his manner and this ensured a positive and pleasant atmosphere during the audit. The audit went smoothly and we were informed of the (positive) outcome on the day. ”
BAB is committed to helping clients progress and achieve outstanding results through the application of effective standards and management best practice. In the existing economic climate and associated spending cuts, the voluntary sector is facing increasing competition for limited funds. Age UK are among many third sector organisations that realise the competitive edge ISO certification can bring in securing contracts and funding;
“Increasingly, funding bodies are requiring organisations to hold externally accredited quality awards, including ISO certification. ISO assists us in meeting the requirements of existing contracts; we are also able to include this information in any bids and tenders we submit, which supports our application.”
In addition, ISO 14001 has provided Age UK Wigan Borough with a framework to achieve their environmental obligations – not only as a business requirement but as a wider duty of care which has had positive benefits for the organisation.
“We are an ethical and environmentally aware organisation and ISO 14001 provides a recognised framework to enable us to meet our environmental obligations, responsibilities and aspirations. Focusing on environmental issues has helped us to reduce costs in the organisation.”
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