Frequently Asked Questions – Independent Accreditation Programme – Quality Standards For ISVA Services

Q1. What is the Independent Accreditation Programme?

Q2. Why is there an Independent Accreditation Programme?

Q3. What happens when a service provider demonstrates they meet the Quality Standards?

Q4. Why is LimeCulture the independent accreditor for the Quality Standards for ISVA services?

Q5. How does LimeCulture ensure they are accrediting service providers consistently and fairly?

Q6. Can we appeal to LimeCulture if our service is not accredited / awarded the Quality Mark?

Q7. Is it mandatory for us to join the Independent Accreditation Programme?

Q8. We are a member of an umbrella organisation that has its own standards which we adhere to. Is this enough to demonstrate that we are achieving these Quality Standards?

Q9. How much support will LimeCulture give me/my service to reach the standards?

Q10. Why doesn’t LimeCulture provide template documents or other guidance to help us meet the standards?

WHO CAN JOIN THE ISVA QUALITY STANDARDS ACCREDITATION PROGRAMME?

Q11. What type of service providers can join the Independent Accreditation Programme for the Quality Standards for ISVA Services?

Q12. Can we join the Independent Accreditation Programme for both the ISVA Quality Standards and the Male Quality Standards?

Q13. We provide an ISVA service, but we do not support adult male victims/survivors. Can we join the Independent Accreditation Programme?

HOW LONG DOES THE PROGRAMME TAKE?

Q14. How long does the Independent Accreditation Programme take?

Q15. If we take longer than 12 months to demonstrate that we are achieving the Quality Standards, will we fail the accreditation?

Q16. What flexibility does the Independent Accreditation Team have when interpreting the Quality Standards and the decision to award the Quality Mark?

Q17. Is there any flexibility around meeting the standards? We are concerned that we could do all the work required but have to wait for our accreditation because of factors outside our control.

Q18. How long can conditions last?

HOW MUCH DO THE INDEPENDENT ACCREDITATION PROGRAMMES COST?

Q19. How much does it cost to join a Programme?

Q20. We have more than one base where our staff work. Is there an additional charge for additional sites?

Q21. We sometimes use third party offices/consultation rooms to see our clients. Does that mean we have to include these sites in our accreditation?

Q22. We want to enrol our adult service (ISVA) and children’s service (CHISVA service) on the programme. How much will this cost?

Q23. We manage our ISVA and CHISVA service as a single service. Why are there additional charges for taking both services through the accreditation programme?

Q24. How will the published charges apply to my service?

LEAVING THE PROGRAMME

Q25. We enrolled on the programme and our workshop is coming up but on reflection think this is not for us. Can we withdraw?

Q26. We’ve attended a workshop but we’re no longer sure it’s for us.

Q27. Our commissioner has paid our fees. Can we withdraw?

Q28. Quality Standard 1.1 refers to the ISVA service maintaining independence through the provision of accurate and impartial information to clients. We consider ourselves to provide an impartial service but our ISVA/CHISVAs are employed by a third party (for example the police). What does this mean for us?

Q29. Quality Standard 1.2 requires us to have specific policies and procedures for the ISVA service. We deliver other services as well as the ISVA service and our policies and procedures cover all of these. Do we have to create a separate set of policies and procedures for the ISVA/CHISVA service?

Q30. Quality Standard 2.1 refers to allowing equitable access to all clients regardless of whether their abuse has been reported, when the abuse occurred and the type of abuse they have experienced. We have access criteria that is more restrictive than this. Can we still meet this Quality Standard?

Q31. Our contract only requires us to see clients who have reported their abuse to the police so would this mean changing what we are doing?

Q32. We currently only accept clients who are reporting to the police. If we start accepting referrals for non-police cases, will the ISVA role be different in focus?

Q33. Quality Standard 3.1 refers to a risk and needs assessment and states one should be completed at every contact with the client. We complete a risk and needs assessment at the initial appointment which is then used to create a support plan. Do we need to complete a full risk and needs assessment at every appointment?

Q1. What is the Independent Accreditation Programme?

A1. LimeCulture has established a programme of accreditation. The purpose is to provide an independent assessment or verification for service providers seeking to demonstrate that they are meeting the following Quality Standards:

  • Male Survivor Partnership Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence

  • Quality Standards for ISVA Services

Q2. Why is there an Independent Accreditation Programme?

A2. To provide an external, verifiable and consistent evaluation of service performance against the published Quality Standards. This means that clients, commissioners and funders and the providers themselves can be assured about the service’s standards of delivery.

Q3. What happens when a service provider demonstrates they meet the Quality Standards?

A3. Service providers that meet the relevant Quality Standards will be awarded a Quality Mark for three years. They receive a certificate which can be displayed at the service providers premises and digital logos for use on marketing materials, email signatures, websites and funding applications.

Q4. Why is LimeCulture the independent accreditor for the Quality Standards for ISVA services?

A4. After LimeCulture developed the Quality Standards for ISVA Services as part of our response to a large number of requests to improve consistency amongst ISVA services, we also launched an independent accreditation programme to provide a way for commissioners, service providers and clients to readily see and understand where services have been assessed as meeting those standards.

LimeCulture has extensive experience working with organisations providing sexual violence services and individual professionals through our training and development work and have provided accredited training to over 650 ISVAs since 2011. This represents the majority of ISVAs working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. LimeCulture continues to work to improve the professionalism of the ISVA workforce and to ensure that ISVAs are recognised for the skilled, professional and boundaried role that they provide to victims of sexual violence both within and outside of the criminal justice process. As an organisation, LimeCulture is often commissioned to undertake Independent Reviews of ISVA Services across the UK and continues to work with policy leads to ensure ISVA services are included in developing policy and frequently provide support to individual ISVAs, ISVA services and commissioners. Collectively this work enables the organisation to be at the forefront of developments that are relevant to ISVAs services.

Q5. How does LimeCulture ensure they are accrediting service providers consistently and fairly?

A5. We are committed to objectivity, fairness and transparency within the Independent Accreditation Programme and at each stage of the accreditation process:

  • Each enrolled service is allocated to one of our Accreditation Managers who is responsible for all elements of the accreditation

  • The team is led by a member of our Senior Management Team (SMT) at LimeCulture

  • We have incorporated a process of management audit which is applied to every service prior to site visits being undertaken and involves a review of a sample of evidence to verify the assessment made by the nominated Accreditation Manager

  • Some (randomly selected) site visits will include a member of the LimeCulture SMT to ensure the process is being carried out fairly, consistently and transparently

Q6. Can we appeal to LimeCulture if our service is not accredited / awarded the Quality Mark?

A6. In the event your service is unable to address the outstanding actions required to meet the Quality Standards, we have an appeals process to review the decisions taken by your Accreditation Manager and where necessary to re-review the evidence submitted during the accreditation process. You can request a copy of our appeals process by emailing accreditation@limeculture.co.uk

Q7. Is it mandatory for us to join the Independent Accreditation Programme?

A7. Applying either of the Quality Standards in your service is entirely voluntary, however, service providers are increasingly recognising the benefits of meeting the Quality Standards and displaying the Quality Mark. Additionally, an increasing number of commissioners and funders are incorporating this requirement into service specifications. You should discuss this with your commissioner if you are unclear about whether they expect your service to join the Independent Accreditation Programme.

Q8. We are a member of an umbrella organisation that has its own standards which we adhere to. Is this enough to demonstrate that we are achieving these Quality Standards?

A8. Whilst we recognise that there are other service standards available to members of umbrella organisations, these do not demonstrate that your service has achieved the Quality Standards for ISVA Services. No other organisations are able to offer accreditation against this standards document.

Q9. How much support will LimeCulture give me/my service to reach the standards?

A9. As this is an independent accreditation programme, the amount of support LimeCulture can offer is limited. We will always try and make suggestions about where you may source relevant advice or guidance but cannot provide significant support or help because that would mean that the accreditation is not independent.

Q10. Why doesn’t LimeCulture provide template documents or other guidance to help us meet the standards?

A10. As this is an independent accreditation programme, the amount of support LimeCulture can offer is limited. We will always try and make suggestions about where you may source relevant advice or guidance but cannot provide significant support or help because this would mean that the accreditation is not independent.

WHO CAN JOIN THE ISVA QUALITY STANDARDS ACCREDITATION PROGRAMME?

Q11. What type of service providers can join the Independent Accreditation Programme for the Quality Standards for ISVA Services?

A11. All service providers delivering an adult and/or children and young person’s ISVA service can apply the Quality Standards for ISVA Services.

Q12. Can we join the Independent Accreditation Programme for both the ISVA Quality Standards and the Male Quality Standards?

A12. Yes, if your service provides ISVA service for adult male victims/survivors. However, as the Quality Standards are different in scope and focus, you will need to demonstrate that you meet both sets of Quality Standards separately.

Q13. We provide an ISVA service, but we do not support adult male victims/survivors. Can we join the Independent Accreditation Programme?

A13. The Quality Standards for ISVA Services do not stipulate which gender of client your service should support.

HOW LONG DOES THE PROGRAMME TAKE?

Q14. How long does the Independent Accreditation Programme take?

A14. The Independent Accreditation Programme for both Quality Standards is a robust, seven stage process which typically takes up to 12 months. Demonstrating your service is meeting either of the Quality Standards will depend on many factors and your Accreditation Manager will work closely with you and your colleagues throughout.

Q15. If we take longer than 12 months to demonstrate that we are achieving the Quality Standards, will we fail the accreditation?

A15. We are keen to work flexibly with service providers. However, we have limited resources and have to plan our work and schedules accordingly. When you join the Independent Accreditation Programme, we discuss with you our expected timescales based on our experience of other similar services and we ask you to work within the agreed timescales. That said, we are always mindful of unexpected delays and your Accreditation Manager will work closely with you to ensure you remain on course.

Q16. What flexibility does the Independent Accreditation Team have when interpreting the Quality Standards and the decision to award the Quality Mark?

A16. The Quality Mark can only be awarded when all the standards have been met and the Independent Accreditation Team have received evidence against each indicator. Many of the indicators can be met in a number of different ways and whilst we provide an example evidence planner, this does not limit the provider or stifle innovative new approaches to service delivery. We understand that there may be a number of ways that service providers can demonstrate they are meeting the Quality Standards.

Q17. Is there any flexibility around meeting the standards? We are concerned that we could do all the work required but have to wait for our accreditation because of factors outside our control.

A17. The Independent Accreditation Team can issue an accreditation with conditions. This is used where your Accreditation Manager is satisfied that a service has met all the standards, but evidence is not yet available. For example, a service may have updated its marketing materials and had appropriate sign off for the new contents but is yet to receive the new materials back from the printers.

Q18. How long can conditions last?

A18. The Independent Accreditation Team will agree a realistic date with you, normally within the following three months, during which time we will ask you to provide the remaining/outstanding evidence to us. If you complete this successfully, the condition will be removed. If you fail to complete this successfully, the accreditation/Quality Mark will be removed.

HOW MUCH DO THE INDEPENDENT ACCREDITATION PROGRAMMES COST?

Q19. How much does it cost to join a Programme?

A19. The cost of joining the Independent Accreditation Programme is currently £3,500 + VAT. This cost is for one service, which is based at a single site and includes the accreditation workshop, evidential review, action planning, a site visit, final report and a certificate of successful accreditation and digital/print logos as appropriate.

Q20. We have more than one base where our staff work. Is there an additional charge for additional sites?

A20. Where services are delivered from more than one site and/or a service requires more than one site visit, there will be an additional charge of between £1,000 – £3,500 (+ VAT) depending on circumstances and location. Any additional charges are based on the additional work that is required of our Independent Accreditation Team in order to ensure that the Quality Standards are applied throughout the service’s bases.

Q21. We sometimes use third party offices/consultation rooms to see our clients. Does that mean we have to include these sites in our accreditation?

A21. We understand that it may be more convenient for your clients for you to see them at third party locations (such as GP surgeries, in schools, client home addresses) and we will ask you to tell us about them when you are enrolled on the programme and why they are suitable venues for your service. We will not make additional charges for these sites where they are used irregularly and do not fall within the control of your organisation.

Q22. We want to enrol our adult service (ISVA) and children’s service (CHISVA service) on the programme. How much will this cost?

A22. Where providers deliver an adult ISVA service and a children’s and young person’s (CYP) ISVA service, these will be treated as two services.  Where the service delivery model (management arrangements, policies and procedures) and a single contract is in place covering both services, the cost of accreditation can be reduced for the second service if undertaken at the same time as accreditation of the first service. Depending on circumstances and location the additional charge will be between £1,000 and £3,500 (+ VAT).

Q23. We manage our ISVA and CHISVA service as a single service. Why are there additional charges for taking both services through the accreditation programme?

A23. Because of the many different ways that ISVA services are provided and commissioned, it has been very difficult to cost and charge both the ISVA accreditation programme (and the Male Quality standards).  For example, we are aware that in many areas, the adult ISVA service is commissioned entirely separately from the CYP ISVA service, meaning that in some areas a single provider delivers both services, while in other areas there are different service providers.  Whilst the Quality Standards are the same for adult and CYP ISVA services, we have found that there are frequently distinct teams for adults and CYP clients, with different policies and procedures in place. This means there is additional work for the accreditation team who have to review additional evidence to ensure the Quality Standards are being achieved in each part of the service.  

As an organisation, we have decided that the fairest and most consistent approach is to make an additional charge of between £1,000 and £3,500 +VAT where there are multiple services and/or sites, to allow flexibility for local arrangements and to ensure that we are able to cover our costs for providing the programme.  

Q24. How will the published charges apply to my service?

A24. In order for us to be able to provide you with a tailored quote, our advice is to get in touch with us, tell us about your organisation and we will provide you with a cost for joining the programme. LimeCulture CIC is a social enterprise and do not seek to make a profit. However, we do need to cover our costs of providing the accreditation. This means that we have to make additional charges to cover the additional work our team must undertake where there is more than one service or site to consider.

LEAVING THE PROGRAMME

Q25. We enrolled on the programme and our workshop is coming up but on reflection think this is not for us. Can we withdraw?

A25. Whether or not your service enrols on the programme is a matter for service providers. We strongly urge you to read the relevant standards document, and our Terms and Conditions carefully before submitting your application to join the programme. If you think you may want to withdraw we suggest you speak to an Accreditation Manager (email accreditation@limeculture.co.uk) as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances. In many cases, an Accreditation Manager will be able to answer your concerns about continuing.

Q26.  We’ve attended a workshop but we’re no longer sure it’s for us.

A26. Speak to your Accreditation Manager as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances. In many cases, an Accreditation Manager will be able to reassure you of any concerns that you may have and discuss ways forward that take into account your individual circumstances. Please note that once you have attended the workshop and have therefore started the Independent Accreditation programme, no refund can be made under our Terms and Conditions. 

Q27.  Our commissioner has paid our fees. Can we withdraw?

A27. Once a commissioner has funded a place on the programme, we maintain a dialogue with them about service progression towards accreditation. As part of this dialogue, we are obliged to discuss potential and actual withdrawals from the programme with the commissioner. In accordance with our Terms and Conditions, there can be no refunds where services decide not to continue. Your commissioner may wish to discuss with you what the implications of your withdrawal are, but this is not something that LimeCulture would become involved with.

FAQ RELATING TO SPECIFIC QUALITY STANDARDS FOR ISVA SERVICES

Q28. Quality Standard 1.1 refers to the ISVA service maintaining independence through the provision of accurate and impartial information to clients. We consider ourselves to provide an impartial service but our ISVA/CHISVAs are employed by a third party (for example the police). What does this mean for us?

A28. In order to provide accurate and impartial information, the ISVA/CHISVA service must be able to demonstrate it is independent from third parties such as the police and/or other criminal justice system agencies. Independence may be demonstrated by the governance and management arrangements that are in place as well as promotional literature and materials and how client information is collected, stored, accessed and shared.

Where any escalation process is required to go beyond the ISVA service to a third party (for example if the accountability and governance arrangements sit with the third party), the service will need to either demonstrate how they maintain independence from that third party or demonstrate how the third party are themselves independent as a part of the evidence for this standard.

Q29. Quality Standard 1.2 requires us to have specific policies and procedures for the ISVA service. We deliver other services as well as the ISVA service and our policies and procedures cover all of these. Do we have to create a separate set of policies and procedures for the ISVA/CHISVA service?

A29. We do not expect service providers to rewrite all of their policies and processes for the ISVA/CHISVA service for the purpose of demonstrating this Quality Standard. However, we do need to see processes, procedures and/or working practices that reflect the role of the ISVA/CHISVA. For example, due to the role of the ISVA, there may need to be a specific policy and procedure for attending court with clients at a Crown Court trial that is unlikely to be relevant for staff delivering other services.

Q30. Quality Standard 2.1 refers to allowing equitable access to all clients regardless of whether their abuse has been reported, when the abuse occurred and the type of abuse they have experienced. We have access criteria that is more restrictive than this. Can we still meet this Quality Standard?

A30. The Independent Accreditation Team will want to see evidence that the ISVA service is accessible to all, in accordance with the Home Office guidance and Crown Prosecution Service definition of sexual assault (relevant extracts below) to meet this standard.

Home Office Guidance: The Role of the Independent Sexual Violence Adviser, 2017 ‘Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) play an important role in providing specialist tailored support to victims and survivors of sexual violence. An ISVA is an adviser who works with people who have experienced rape and sexual assault, irrespective of whether they have reported to the police.’

Crown Prosecution Service:

‘Sexual assault is when a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or when a person, male or female, touches another person sexually without their consent. Touching can be done with any part of the body or with an object. Sexual penetration is when a person (male or female) penetrates the vagina or anus of another person with any part of their body or an object without that person’s consent.’

Q31. Our contract only requires us to see clients who have reported their abuse to the police so would this mean changing what we are doing?

A31. In order to provide evidence against standard QS 2.1, you need to be offering an ISVA service which is in accordance with the guidance issued by the Home Office. If this means changing the service you provide, you may wish to raise this with your commissioner(s).

Q32. We currently only accept clients who are reporting to the police. If we start accepting referrals for non-police cases, will the ISVA role be different in focus?

A32. Referrals for non-police cases may require different input from your service with a focus on risk and need assessing, creating a support plan and making referrals to appropriate services. When the risk and needs assessment shows that the client no longer needs support from the ISVA service, the case may be closed. This may take place earlier than for the clients who are in the CJS for a number of reasons, including the type of support required or the time taken for cases to progress through CJS.

Q33. Quality Standard 3.1 refers to a risk and needs assessment and states one should be completed at every contact with the client. We complete a risk and needs assessment at the initial appointment which is then used to create a support plan. Do we need to complete a full risk and needs assessment at every appointment?

A33. The risk and needs assessment must be completed at the first contact with the ISVA and reviewed on a regular basis. As risk and needs are dynamic, it will be important to consider at every contact whether there have been any changes that have impacted on the individual client. This should be considered in conjunction with the support plan. A full risk and needs assessment should be carried out at defined intervals.