6 Steps To Certification

 January 2022

What is certification?

In the health and human services sector, certification by an external third-party auditor (or Conformity Assessment Body/Certification Body/Accreditation Agency as we are referred to in Australia) is often a requirement for government funding or tender processes. This can apply to service providers working in all kinds of areas, such as disability support, child protection, domestic and family violence prevention, housing and homelessness, and the wider hospital and community health sector.

Certification can also be voluntary. Where this the case, many service providers use their certification to promote that their organisation is providing safe, quality and effective services.

What requirements will you need to meet?

Going through a certification or accreditation process in our sector involves a review of your business documentation and practices to determine how well you, as a service provider, are meeting a specific set of standards. The requirements you’ll need to meet will vary from standard to standard, but there are some common themes you’re likely to encounter:

  • Governance and operational management:  are your services guided by a robust and comprehensive governance system? Is this system proportionate to the types of services you deliver?
  • Risk management:  do you have a framework in place to manage risks to your consumers/clients, staff, and organisation?
  • Customer/stakeholder satisfaction: how do people experience your organisation?
  • Complaints and incident management: are there processes in place to appropriately respond to complaints and incidents? Are you staff and consumers/clients aware of these processes?
  • Human Resources: are there mechanisms in place to select the right people? Do your people have the training, support and resources they need to do a great job?

The standards you may be required to meet are either freely available (e.g. the NDIS Practice Standards, the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, and the Human Services Quality Standards) or will be made available to you by your chosen certification body. HDAA provides self-assessment tools for most schemes including specialised tools for Dental and Mental Health services.

Getting familiar with the certification process before you begin will help you to understand what you can expect from an audit or assessment. With the exception of some desktop programs, such as Diagnostic Imaging and NDIS Verification audits, our 6 Step Guide to Certification applies across all of our schemes at HDAA.

What are the steps to Certification?

1.   Confirm your scope

Before you can be assessed, you need to know which parts of your business can be certified, and decide which products and services you want to be certified for. Some service providers deliver a wide variety of services, but may only wish to certify a few.

2.   Complete your Stage 1 assessment

A Stage 1 audit/assessment is generally a desktop review of your key business policy and process documents relating to the service being certified. A Stage 1 report will outline any potential gaps or issues that the assessor has identified, to assist you in preparing for your Stage 2 audit/assessment which will focus in-depth on the implementation of your processes.

3.   Plan for the Stage 2 assessment

The Stage 2 audit/assessment will involve one or more assessors meeting with you, your team, your clients and other stakeholders, witnessing your service delivery, and further reviewing your documents and records. Your certification body will work with you to develop a schedule for Stage 2 well in advance of the audit date, to assist you to plan for the day and ensure your staff and clients can fully participate.

4.   Complete your Stage 2 assessment

Your audit/assessment will begin with an opening meeting, where your assessment team will introduce themselves and confirm the schedule. The assessors will meet with staff, management, clients, and other stakeholders, and complete other activities like site inspections and file reviews. The Lead assessor will communicate with you all the way through to ensure there are no surprises and the assessment team fully understands your unique service. At the end of the audit, a closing meeting will take place where the audit team will summarise their findings including any gaps identified.

5.   Review and implement any corrective action

Some time following the Stage 2 (usually about 4 – 6 weeks), you will be provided with a copy of the audit/assessment report. If the audit team identified any gaps or ‘non-conformances’, these will be clearly identified in the report. You will then need to develop and document a corrective action plan outlining how you will rectify the gaps identified. You will also be given a timeframe by which you need to provide evidence to demonstrate that your corrective action plan has been implemented effectively and the gaps have been addressed.

6.   Certification process complete!

Once you have addressed any gaps within the required timeframes, a formal decision can be made regarding your service’s certification/accreditation. In some schemes, such as the NDIS, a recommendation is made to an external regulator who may then make a further decision. The date for your next audit will be confirmed, generally between 12 to 18 months from the Stage 2 audit/assessment, depending on the scheme rules.

Ready to get started?

If you’re considering getting your health or human services business certified or accredited, we’d love to chat to you about your organisation’s needs and how you can begin the certification process.

At HDAA, we are approved to assess many health and human services standards, including:

You can contact us today at 1800 601 696 or info@hdaau.com.au to discuss your first, or next, certification or accreditation assessment and our stress-free transfer process for currently certified or accredited providers.


Ready to get certified?