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National Quality Service Standards (NQSS)

The Welsh Women’s Aid National Quality Service Standards (NQSS) form a set of accredited criteria against which dedicated specialist services addressing domestic abuse can evidence their quality and impact. Embodying the principles of participation, transparent governance, and needs-led service delivery, they set out the nature and standard of service provision necessary to enable survivors of domestic abuse service to cope with and recover from their experiences of abuse. For the funders and commissioners of specialist services, the Standards serve as a robust and independent quality assurance mechanism. They are made up of clear benchmarks for what holistic, high-quality, needs-led, strength-based, and gender responsive specialist services can – and should – look like.

The National Quality Service Standards also support the delivery of key legislation and guidance in relation to responding effectively to domestic abuse. They have been mapped against, for example, the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 statutory guidance and the national training framework . They also take into account non-devolved strategic approaches from the Home Office and Ministry of Justice as well as EU and internationally recognised standards for preventative, protective and supportive service provision.

In 2022, having aligned the National Quality Service Standards and associated assessment process to become compliant with IAQF, Welsh Women’s Aid was granted IAQF Wales Approved Accrediting Body status. Consequently, specialist domestic abuse services who apply for and are eventually awarded the Welsh Women’s Aid National Quality Service Standards Quality Mark will have demonstrated they also meet the criteria to be simultaneously awarded the IAQF Quality Mark.

You can read the standards here:

WWA NQSS Introduction 2022 Edition

How are specialist services assessed against the standards?

The National Quality Service Standards assessment process consists of:

  • A documentary self-assessment
  • A thematic case-file review
  • A site visit to the service
  • Interviews with the services board, CEO, management, staff and service users
  • The assessor then writes a report summarising their findings which goes to the NQSS panel for review.
  • A final decision made by the NQSS panel attended by:
    • Welsh Women’s Aid CEO or another Senior Manager
    • Welsh Women’s Aid Trustee
    • Member of staff from an affiliate organisation such as Respect or WAFE
    • Survivor Representative

Organisations will either receive a full pass, a conditional pass or will be deferred. Organisations who receive recommendations will be asked to submit evidence demonstrating that the recommendations have been met within three months. All accredited organisations are required to complete an interim assessment halfway through their accreditation period to confirm they are continuing to meet the Standards. Organisations are required to renew their NQSS and IAQF quality marks every three years.

Which services currently have the NQSS quality mark?

  • Calan DVS
  • CarmDAS
  • Cyfannol Women’s Aid
  • Swansea Women’s Aid
  • Thrive Women’s Aid (applying for renewal)

How do I find out more?

We have provided a NQSS Standards Manual to support services with the assessment process. To register your interest in applying please email [email protected]

How do I raise a concern about a service with the NQSS quality mark?

As the organisation that sets the National Quality Service Standards and manages the accreditation process alongside acting as a IAQF accreditating body, Welsh Women’s Aid accepts responsibility for upholding the quality of these systems.

In accordance with the National Quality Service Standards Complaints Policy if it is alleged that at any time a service has breached any of the standards, Welsh Women’s Aid reserve the right to conduct an independent investigation, and the matter may be referred back to the NQSS Panel. Organisations who hold the Welsh Women’s Aid NQSS and Welsh Government IAQF quality marks are required to state the option to escalate any complaint to Welsh Women’s Aid within their complaints and grievance policies.

If you would like a copy of the NQSS complaints procedure or wish to make a complaint about an organisation carrying the Welsh Women’s Aid Quality Mark, please write to the NQSS Panel, Welsh Women’s Aid, Pendragon House, Caxton Place, Pentwyn, Cardiff, CF23 8XE, email [email protected] or call 02920 541551.

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