The How-to of Policies & Procedures
You’re often told that you need policies and procedures to drive best practice and underpin quality and consistency. But many business owners and leaders struggle with where to start.
Which ones matter most? How do I write them?
Collectively the various types of documents you create pin down and clarify what is important in your organisation. They take out the guess work, drive consistency and generate confidence in your team members that they’re doing their jobs well. Identifying the documents that will support these factors, will highlight the ones that matter most for you.
At Augmentum we talk about “documentation”. The primary types of documentation are Policies and Procedures, as well as working documents such as Templates and Checklists, plus those items you distribute outside your organisation, like Handouts and Reports.
Your Policies set out the principles behind the actions that should be done – they are the “Why”. Policies don’t have to be lengthy or complex and in fact are better when they’re concise. But they clearly state the principle/s behind the actions needed. All other documentation flows from your Policies and maps out the “Who”, “What”, “When”, “Where” & “How”. Writing your documentation with reference to these points will ensure you cover everything.
We’ve created a FREE Policy and Procedure template to help you get started – sign up to receive your download link. The template includes headings and brief explanations of what to cover under these. In this case we’ve put the Policy and Procedure on the one document as you’ll often find this works best. We’ve also provided an example “Quality & Collaboration Policy” from the same link, so you can see the template in use. Checklists and other docs will also be appropriate to cover detail about the “Who”, “What”, “When”, “Where” & “How”.
So, what documentation do you need for YOUR practice?
To map this out, consider the following and start making a list –
- What topics or areas do you to need cover, to address areas of clinical care in which there’s a need for clear guidelines and consistent processes to facilitate optimal service to clients? These will include things like onboarding and inducting new team members, report templates, consents and client’ goal establishment and review.
- What areas of admin work need clear guidelines and consistent processes to ensure optimal support of your therapists AND clients? Examples include a client onboarding checklist, a welcome pack and payment guidelines.
- What’s needed to embed and drive the Vision & Values of your practice? For example, if “Quality” is one of your Values, how should this be shown by individual team members in their roles, in teams within your practice and the organisation overall?
- What is needed to meet legal, compliance and accreditation requirements? These cover your HR obligations, as well as things like privacy, IT and incident management.
- What will underpin performance – both staff and financial? Examples include position descriptions, performance appraisals, financial reports, budgets and decision tools.
If you’re seeking accreditation with a governing body there’ll be specific documentation that you’ll need, and the relevant body will generally be quite explicit about these requirements. For example, if you’re seeking accreditation under the NDIS, specific documentation required will be based on your registration groups, the services and supports that you provide, and whether you require verification or certification. Your initial Scope of Audit will help determine what is needed.
However, we can’t stress strongly enough, that the purpose of creating documentation should not be solely to gain accreditation or to cover you for problems/issues that might arise. Having the right documents in place has many significant positive impacts on your service quality, team motivation, client retention, managerial burden and stress levels – to name just a few!
Achievement of these ends assumes of course that your documentation has been well researched, written and tested, well communicated and well embedded in the culture and day-to-day of your organisation. It’s easy to get caught up in the creation of documents and forget about rolling them out to the team, checking understanding and making sure that they’re putting them to use. Having a plan to make this happen for each document or set of related documents will help you achieve the full gains you’re after.
A final tip – getting your team members involved from the outset will help too. They’ll have ideas about what’s needed from their role’s perspective, plus be able to write, proof and test some documents. Also, getting their early input will help with gaining buy-in and then with embedding the inevitable changes that will come.
Download your FREE Policy & Procedure template and FREE example Quality & Collaboration Policy sign up to receive your download link.
The Augmentum team provides a broad range of services to Medical and Allied Health organisations, including around documentation development and building effective and efficient foundations and teams. We also provide assistance to healthcare business owners and decision makers with strategic development and planning, customer engagement and retention, and establishing reports to keep their finger-on-the-pulse and drive growth and success. Get in touch to find out more, or check out our website www.augmentum.com.au
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