Quality Indicators for Independent Living Services (QUILS)

The Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers (WCILC) has developed the Quality Indicators for Independent Living Services (QUILS), which has and will benefit new or established Centers for Independent Living (CILs). This unique system has been developed specifically for community based not for profit independent living centers and is the only one of its kind in the nation.

photo of disabled woman opening an office doorQUILS is based on two interrelated components. The first component is the Quality Indicator document. This document provides Quality Indicators which are derived from current federal “standards and assurances for Centers for Independent Living”, but further details quality visions of best practice. The sections are: Promoting Consumer Control of the Center, Promoting Self Help and Self Advocacy, Developing Peer Relationships and Peer Role Models, Promoting Equal Access of People with Disabilities in Society, Cross Disability Provision by the Center, Facilitation of Progress toward Independent Living Goals, Improving Community Options and Community Capacity, Independent Living Skills Training, Individual and Systems Advocacy, Information and Referral, Resource Development, Sound Governance and Management, and Overall Agency Structure. Indicators often exceed federal standards or propose benchmarks for service or practice. The people who developed these indicators made a conscious decision to go beyond minimum requirements for compliance with federal or state standards. Instead, these indicators are intended to be signposts for CILs in the pursuit of excellence. Thus, the document can be used by the CILs to conclude an internal self-assessment or to conduct an external assessment by a team of peers. The results of a survey using the instrument are great for the foundation of a strategic plan.

The second component of QUILS is a facilitated, on-site review by members of a peer review team. Modeled after the PASS system used to evaluate community-based services, the peer review utilizes extensive interpersonal contact with consumers, Board and staff members to assess Quality Indicator achievement. This external assessment is enhanced through a thorough preparation of both the peer review team and the CIL staff, the latter are provided checklists of the resources needed in advance of the site visit.

The Center controls who is on the Peer Review Team. The Peer Review Team should include Center staff from their own state, representatives from both management and direct services, persons with varying expertise, and at least one or two members with experience with the process. The average number of people on a Peer Review Team is five and the average Peer Review takes five days. Upon completion of the review, the CIL staff and board are provided with both verbal and written reports regarding the peer review findings.

QUILS is a powerful, practical, and flexible tool in the pursuit of independent living excellence. Developed and refined by working independent living professionals, QUILS sets a standard of its own in the future of the independent living movement. QUILS is not intended to be used for comparative “rating”, but rather as an internal tool of the CIL organization to use for quality improvement. Previous participants in the process have stated the following reasons to have a Peer Review; (1) to clarify your values and your definition of quality, and then measure yourself by that, (2) to really see it from the customer’s perspective, (3) to go beyond compliance, (4) it’s an important input to planning, (5) what’s good for the goose is good for the gander – look in our own backyard, (6) to challenge yourself, open up all new possibilities, and get unstuck, (7) to fix it ourselves, before someone fixes it for us.

QUILS was developed over a two year period by representatives of all Wisconsin CIL’s, the Office of Persons with Physical Disabilities, and the State Independent Living Council. Currently, this tool has been sold to five other states and eight have expressed a strong interest in its purchase.

WCILC currently has five people who have received specific training to be QUILS Facilitators and are experienced with the Peer Review Process. This allows WCILC to be capable and flexible for additional states to schedule Peer Reviews.

Independent Living Centers are unique entities in the world of human services, independent living, and consumer empowerment and therefore, require a unique tool for their review. It’s available – Its QUILS!

To schedule a QUILS review, please contact Maureen Ryan at 608-444-3842 or email to moryan@charter.net.

Rev. Feb. 2017