The European Quality in Social Services (EQUASS) is an initiative of the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR). EQUASS enhances the social sector by engaging social service providers in continuous improvement, learning and development, in order to guarantee service users quality of services throughout Europe.
EQUASS wants to contribute to the creation of a European market and the modernization of personal services of general interest, where service providers can distinguish themselves and use the quality of their service provision as a competitive advantage.
A substantial number of social service providers and individuals in more than 12 European countries have shown their commitment to the EQUASS quality approach by certifying their services or supporting the implementation as well as assessing the EQUASS approach as EQUASS consultants and EQUASS auditors. The growing interest in the EQUASS approach to quality is based on meeting successfully the needs and expectations of stakeholders (such as service users, service providers, funders, social partners and policy makers) in the social sector and the VET sector.
The EQUASS certification programmes fully comply with the European quality requirements in the social sector as expressed in the European Quality Framework for Social Services by the Social Protection Committee, as well as the core criteria of the EQAVET framework for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Sector. Certification based on EQUASS criteria can also be considered as evidence for successful implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of of People with Disabilities.
Feedback from certified social service providers shows that the implementation of the EQUASS criteria has brought them benefits. EQUASS implementation created a more client-focused approach, an increased awareness of service users' rights, an increased involvement and empowerment of service users in provided services, a systematic enhancement and promotion of quality of life and an increased motivation of staff to contribute and to improve the quality of their daily work. Above all, EQUASS enhanced the strong focus on business management aspects and on proving the outcomes, benefits and results by measuring them with indicators.
In many European countries EQUASS certification holds social service providers accountable for their actions and for the funding they receive.