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How to prepare for an Internal Audit… and get the most out of it!

“An audit is coming!” Heard that phrase? Audits may seem unpalatable, but what if auditing was looked at differently?  If it was an exciting opportunity to acknowledge service strengths, to locate avenues of innovation, and to strengthen the robustness of our documentation? For our wonderful, diverse programs, internal auditing is like a medical check up. “Strengths” and “areas for improvement” are assessed, then recommendations and an action plan are produced, so that services can continue toward best practice, continuous improvement and preparation for external accreditation.

 

So, what are the elements of an internal audit?

 

Auditing general practice:

General practice auditing includes the systems, practice elements and staff composition of a service. The auditing process seeks to analyse how accurately these structures match the proposed model implicit in the service plan, and how proactive the service is in fulfilling the often broad service requirements. There is a concerted effort to also understand where strengths exist in practice, as these can lead to new and exciting opportunities within the scope of a program.

 

Auditing the physical site:

Service environments should be safe environments. Naturally, each site will look different, but the principles of good practice, WH&S and appropriate aesthetic remain the same. The auditor will consider staff and client safety, but will also note inventive and often inspiring innovations in accommodation, such as comfortable and confidential counselling rooms (or even fun materials available for children in the waiting area). These things speak volumes as to how we seek to provide a trauma-informed and positive client experience.

 

Auditing team effectiveness:

In the NT, Paul speaks to the Corinthian church, stating the importance of both unity and diversity amongst the body of Christ, God’s people, and comments how all parts of the body are important (1 Cor 12:12-27). We could make a comparison here to Baptist Care SA. Each person within a service is important and contributes a crucial function to the overall team. An audit seeks to investigate how well team members are working together, any gaps in service response, the level of “self care”, and professional development avenues.

 

Auditing client files and KPIs:

Principles of confidentiality, record keeping and informed consent should be rigorously adhered to; not just for compliance, but because keeping up-to-date documentation ultimately respects client rights and self-determination. Auditing might consider: “Does noting showing a therapeutic relationship? Are case management processes client-centred? And, are goals set at an appropriate level?” KPI analysis allows the auditor to assist services to see areas for improvement and where KPIs exceed funding body expectations.

 

Aiming for excellence:

Arguably, achieving strengths in these areas lead to stronger staff and client relationships, less risky behaviors and increased program outcomes. My recommendation this year is that we are both reflective and ethnographical – that is, to take a step back and consider: “What could make this service even better? Can we heighten efficiencies without adding additional processes? Where are our service gaps and how should we resolve them? What are our strengths and how can they help us meet funding body requirements?”

 

We want to work with you:

The Quality and Risk team is excited and eager to collaborate with all teams to achieve the shared vision of producing transition pathways for the most vulnerable. It is my prayer and hope that in every aspect we continue to strive toward excellence, but in all this, that we remember the value that we each bring to the table.

 

May your 2020 be both successful and fulfilling. We look forward to seeing you!

 

Jonathan McQueen

Internal Audit Officer

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