Quality assurance

OVERALL STRATEGY: in general the quality assurance of case management practice is under-developed.  There are some promising initiatives and some jurisdictions report that they are "working toward" a more integrated approach, but mostly quality is left to trust.

SPAN: where it can be found, quality assurance is always limited to a single agency, stage or provider.  There were no reports of quality assurance approaches which spanned the whole correctional system.

ONE-TO-ONE SUPERVISION:  little is known about the most prevalent case management activity - one-to-one supervision.  User feedback is rare.  Reflective staff supervision is a general expectation but there were few examples of a clear policy which is regularly monitored.  Small jurisdictions are often able to maintain quality by co-locating managers with front-line staff.  The development of quality assurance is inhibited by a misconception, in some places, that the scrutiny of practice reflects a lack of trust in case managers. The project found no performance management arrangements focussed at the level of individual practitioners; individual practitioners cannot usually tell you how successful they are.

JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT: in many systems a high degree of judicial consultation and sign-off of key decisions affords a degree of quality assurance; there is some disquiet, though, that this is may not be sufficiently challenging.

Integration and Continuity

DESIGN: individualised case management could be identified in every system examined. However, nowhere was case management designed and delivered as an integrated, system-wide function. Most often arrangements were
specific to particular providers, stages of the correctional system, sentences or projects. Where correctional systems had experienced a number of changes in sentencing provisions it was particularly apparent that case management arrangements were designed individually and not as an integrated whole. This resulted in duplication and repetition of activity e.g. assessment and planning. Consequently, the experience for accused persons and offenders passing through systems was fragmented, thereby compromising efficiency and effectiveness.

FRAGMENTATION: typically, offenders passing through correctional systems would experience one or more changes of case manager across their correctional journeys. This could be prompted by a change in provider or simply by moving from one stage of the system to another. There is often a lack of continuity between who manages cases pre- and post-sentence and who manages them during a custodial sentence and after release. The need to manage these transitions was more commonly recognised for offenders leaving custody than for those at the point of sentence. Where fragmentation occurs as a result of a change of provider, the lack of continuity could be exacerbated by poor or non-existent information sharing arrangements.