Christian Ingold, expert consultant, RADIX & Günter Ackermann, Health Promotion Switzerland
Organizations in the field of health promotion and prevention are increasingly looking into the issue of quality. On the one hand, this can be regarded as a consequence of the constantly growing professionalism in this young field; on the other, the organizations are faced with ever higher quality demands from external sources. In recent years, Health Promotion Switzerland, which has been carrying the quint-essenz quality system for over a decade, has increasingly focused on working towards a systematization of project and quality management at the organizational level. At the same time, QuaTheDA, originally established by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health as a quality standard for addiction support, has been extended. Module X, "Health promotion, prevention, early detection and early intervention", now offers health promotion and prevention organizations the possibility of having their quality assurance certified.
quint-essenz as a quality system for projects
Development of the quint-essenz quality system began in the mid-nineties and was born from the realization that conventional project and quality management systems did not sufficiently cater to the peculiarities of health promotion and prevention. A set of criteria to determine the quality of projects was established before a range of tools intended as an aid for the implementation of the quality requirements defined in the criteria was developed. Systematic application of quint-essenz at all stages of a project, from project rationale to planning, implementation and evaluation, provides projects with a professional foundation, thereby raising the effectiveness of interventions (see Studer & Ackermann 2009).
QuaTheDA as a quality system for organizations
By contrast, QuaTheDA was developed as a quality standard for organizations in the field of addiction support. It defines a list of quality requirements for structures and processes at both operational and service level. This provides organizations with guidance in the form of a recognized reference system. QuaTheDA's function is twofold: it serves as a tool for internal quality checks and at the same time, by way of a certification, as a badge of quality that is recognized externally. The latter is particularly important for clients and sponsors. The QuaTheDA label acts as a guarantee to the public authorities that a certain level of quality has been achieved. The QuaTheDA 2012 reference system now takes into account the particularities of prevention and health promotion.
Implementation at Perspektive Thurgau
In the course of a joint working group, RADIX, the Federal Office of Public Health, Health Promotion Switzerland and Infodrog (the Swiss Office for the Coordination of Addiction Facilities) investigated the possibilities offered by combining QuaTheDA and quint-essenz and identified potential synergies. The aim now is to gain and evaluate initial practical experiences:
Perspektive Thurgau is a non-profit organization that, among other things, implements health promotion and prevention projects on behalf of the canton of Thurgau. It has been employing quint-essenz tools in its work for many years and is also QuaTheDA-certified in the areas of therapy and counselling. It is set to be recertified in accordance with QuaTheDA in late 2014 and intends to use this opportunity to also obtain certification for the new QuaTheDA "Health promotion, prevention, early detection and early intervention" module. To gain experience in respect of the interaction of the two quality systems in both implementation and certification, Infodrog and RADIX, with a focus on QuaTheDA and quint-essenz, respectively, are supporting the organization in its efforts to ready itself for the certification for module X. The experience thus gained is to be made available to other organizations as well as used for consultations, training and further development of the two systems.
Two systems, two approaches
A first discussion with Perspektive Thurgau made it clear that there was some uncertainty and fear surrounding a potential clash of the two quality systems. The systems have different histories in terms of their creation, operate differently due to their particular approaches and, to a certain extent, use their own specific vocabulary.
Nevertheless, the two systems have the same objective: the continuous improvement of quality. This provides the starting point for a comparison of QuaTheDA and quint-essenz. While QuaTheDA is primarily focused on structures and processes at organizational level, quint-essenz targets projects and their effects. The two systems thus aim to achieve similar things but at different levels and using different systematic approaches. quint-essenz is well-established as a reference system and toolbox in the field of health promotion and prevention. QuaTheDA is also broadly accepted and a large number of addiction support organizations are already certified in accordance with this standard. External audit procedures to obtain recertification are well-honed and Infodrog also offers further training as a support to organizations in their quality development. The revision of QuaTheDA (2012) sought in particular to include organizations in the field of prevention and health promotion in the development of module X. This allowed the foundations for the compatibility of QuaTheDA and quint-essenz to be laid at an early stage of the process. In this respect, QuaTheDA can be seen as a scanner that enables the determination of how the different organizations and their services work.
Initial experiences by Perspektive Thurgau show that quint-essenz provides the systematic approach and tools to develop projects and programmes that can be "scanned" by QuaTheDA without fear of failure (see interview with Judith Hübscher Stettler and Doris Grauwiler). It is apparent that the two systems are in tune with and do not hinder one other. If an organization decides to seek QuaTheDA-certification for module X, "Health promotion, prevention, early detection and early intervention", quint-essenz proves to be a good and suitable tool offering structured and efficient support in this process. In other words, an organization that has systematized its project work using quint-essenz (see also Kolip et al. 2012, chapter 13) already fulfils key requirements for QuaTheDA certification.
Studer, Hubert & Ackermann, Günter (2009). quint-essenz: Potenziale in Projekten erkennen und nutzen. In: Suchtmagazin. Jahrgang 35, Heft 2, April 2009. http://www.quint-essenz.ch/de/files/Studer_Ackermann_Suchtmagazin_2009.pdf
Kolip. Petra; Ackermann, Günter; Ruckstuhl, Brigitte & Studer, Hubert (2012). Gesundheitsförderung mit System: quint-essenz – Qualitätsentwicklung in Projekten der Gesundheitsförderung und Prävention. Bern: Huber. http://www.quint-essenz.ch/de/files/Gesundheitsfoerderung_mit_System.pdf
Studer, Hubert & Conrad-Zschaber, Cornelia (2011). The challenge of systematics. How can organizations systematically improve the quality of their projects? Newsletter quint-essenz: december 2011: http://www.quint-essenz.ch/en/articles/2
Bundesamt für Gesundheit (2012). Das modulare QuaTheDA-Referenzsystem. Die Qualitätsnorm für die Suchthilfe, Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung. Revision Juli 2012. http://www.quatheda.ch/pdf/de/2012/2012_BAG_QuaTheDA-de.pdf