Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework

Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009.

6. Resourcing Standards

This section provides Standards for the resources necessary to underpin the delivery of the service.

Standard 6.1

All service providers must have premises that ensure that the service can be accessible to all members of the community and is adequate to the needs of service users.

The quality and maintenance of premises play a crucial role in ensuring access to a service. Access in this context means not only physical access, but also people's willingness to use a service because of its location and its appearance. This Standard relates to the premises planning Standard 3.3.

TIP Consider the needs of people with a visual impairment, ensure that premises are barrier free and have good signage and lighting. Be prepared for a visually impaired person being accompanied by a carer and arrange facilities for guide dogs.

To comply with this Standard, Type I service providers should be able to demonstrate that:

  • Their premises are located in an area that is appropriate to their current and potential service users
  • Their premises have private facilities where individuals may request information
  • Their premises are physically accessible to people with impaired mobility or that they have developed adequate alternative means of delivering their service outside the premises to people with impaired mobility
  • Their premises are safe and accessible for people with impaired vision
  • Their premises have sufficient adaptations to ensure that they may be used by people with impaired hearing and
  • They consult with service users and potential service users, including disability groups, about the adequacy of their premises at least once every three years

In addition to these requirements Type II and Type III service providers should be able to demonstrate that their premises have:

  • Sufficient private interviewing facilities that are sound-proofed and not visible to other service users
  • A private office for follow-up work
  • Adequate public reception and waiting room
  • Means of keeping children accompanying their parents occupied, such as crèche facilities or toys and
  • Toilet facilities to meet the needs of both the staff and the public

The good practice guidance is provided here to allow services to assess the quality of their current premises. This does not apply to Telephone Helplines.

Reception areas should:

  • Have level access to street or level access to lift
  • Be sufficiently large to accommodate those waiting for service
  • Be warm, safe and away from public gaze (for example, using screens)
  • Have access to a WC and
  • Have some natural light.

If there is a receptionist then the area should include the necessary space for them plus an alarm.

It should include facilities for children, ideally a play area with toys and a low table where they can sit.

Space should be provided where women can wait separately from men who are not from their immediate families, where this is appropriate (for example, if serving certain Muslim communities).

Interview Space

The number of interview cubicles required depends upon the number of advisers employed and the nature of the work of the agency. For example, how much time is spent with the client and how much on follow-up work? As a rule of thumb, three advisers can usually share two cubicles.

Cubicles vary in size but, for comfort, experience suggests a minimum size of seven square metres. At least one cubicle should be large enough to accommodate a family of five, plus the adviser and a table and be comfortable for the length of the advice session (about 10 square metres).

All cubicles should have at least one large window onto an area in constant use by colleagues but should also be soundproof. A panic alarm should be fitted.


Client records will need to be kept for substantial periods of time. There should be sufficient, safe and secure space for this purpose.

Meeting Space

Services should have access to space for regular staff meetings, training events and networking meetings.

Standard 6.2

Service providers must pay sufficient attention to human resource planning to maintain service outputs and inform future planning.

The maintenance of service delivery is important if service users are to have confidence in the service's capacity to address their problem.

To comply with this Standard, Type I service providers should have procedures in place to minimise disruption in the event of staff and volunteer sickness, including the provision of cover to maintain levels of service.

In addition, Type II and Type III providers should be able to demonstrate that they monitor and analyse the time spent by staff on the different Types of activity undertaken and the topics as tools for future planning.

Human resource planning is needed to take account not only of the numbers, types and quality of staff needed to deliver services, but to enable a service to plan to ensure that minimum legal standards are met in respect of employment.

Human resource planning should be incorporated into service and forward planning, and in the development of good practice policies in relation to employment.

The planning process enables a service to look at the numbers of paid and unpaid staff that are needed to offer an effective service, and the deployment of staff resources in meeting the needs of that service. In working out the number of volunteers needed, it will look at demands that can be made realistically on volunteers' time. This will include:

  • Time spent on the tasks for which they have volunteered
  • Supervision and support time
  • Training time
  • Time spent in meetings, including team meetings, updating meetings, general meetings of volunteers and
  • Time spent on holiday

If a volunteer can offer ten hours per week to the service, the service will have to assess how much time over a month will be spent in non-service delivery tasks. The service can then assess the number of volunteers needed to cover planned tasks by looking at the total number of hours of tasks it would wish volunteers to cover, and then setting a realistic assessment of the actual number of hours a volunteer can work.

Analysing staffing requirements is more complex, in that a larger number of tasks need to be analysed for each member of staff. Staffing levels are also determined by other variants, such as the actual and expected financial resources of the service. Planning staffing levels will include the following considerations:

  • The number of staff required to undertake the tasks - each job needs to be broken down into tasks, and the time required for these task areas needs to be analysed
  • If offering an advice service, the balance between casework and follow-up - determining the optimum casework load per adviser
  • Impact of statutory duties - for example, DAS
  • Training required to meet the needs of the service - do existing staff need additional training? How much general training time will be needed over the next year?

How will annual leave and sickness impact on the service?

What happens if key staff leave over the period of the plan? How will the recruitment of new staff impact on service delivery? How will the need to fill a post quickly impact on the skills and experience levels in the service?

If service providers have a DAS caseload, how will the service be affected if the DAS Approved Adviser ceases to act as such or leaves employment with the service provider?

Human resource planning should also look at the ratios of front-line and office staff, volunteers to management and supervisory staff. It can help to identify where additional management support may be needed if a manager is supervising too many staff or volunteers.

TIP There are no hard and fast rules but common practice is to have one administrative support post for four to five full time advisers

Areas that should be examined in the process of an annual review will include all the major policy areas that impact directly on staff and volunteers. These policy areas will include those issues where there is a legal obligation on the service. The main headings of these policy areas are:

  • Terms and Conditions: which will include holidays; pensions and sick pay entitlements; notice periods; grievance and disciplinary procedures; statutory maternity pay and leave; discretionary parental leave provisions; hours of work; and redundancy agreements
  • Salaries: which will include grading; pay reviews; job evaluation procedures
  • Training and Development: which can include supervision and appraisal procedures
  • Employee Relations: which will include relationships with trades unions and internal communication
  • Recruitment and
  • Health, Safety and Security

All services should use monitoring to identify where problems may be arising and establish contingency plans to cover for unexpected emergencies, such as staff sickness. Regular review of personnel policies and procedures should form part of the annual review programme, and human resource planning should be included in both service and forward plans.

Services should look closely at how staff are expected to use their time at work, and should encourage the development of individual work plans which allocate time for follow-up work on cases, necessary administrative time, training, networking and meetings.

Developing general good practice in the management of volunteers is also an important area in human resource planning. Volunteers' handbooks should be developed, which set out clear guidelines in working with volunteers, what are the service's policies in relation to areas where volunteers may be deployed and the responsibilities of both the service and the volunteer. Clear boundaries may need to be set on the management of volunteers by paid staff, particularly where a volunteer may have some external association with a member of staff with a management or supervisory responsibility for their work.

Standard 6.3

All services must be able to demonstrate that their annual budget is sufficient to resource the requirements of these Standards and sufficient to resource the commitments established in the Service Plan.

Service users, funders, and those involved in planning and delivering the service need to be assured that the service and quality plans can be met and be sustained.

For all service providers each element of the Service Plan and the plan to meet these Standards must be costed and included within the service's annual budget.

The cost of meeting these Standards needs to be considered. For many services, costing this work will inform whether there is a need for additional resources to develop their service or to maintain compliance.


Email: Phone: 0300 244 4000 Post: Central Enquiry Unit
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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