Principle 8: QUALITY

  • Services provided are of the highest quality given the state of knowledge and resources. This is achieved through ongoing evaluation of service delivery with assessment based on feedback from victims/survivors, staff and service delivery partners, practice guidelines and research evidence.
  • Staff are supported through appropriate training, leave, resources and supervision

It is important that services are of high quality as the potential for crisis support workers to cause harm is as great as it is for anyone else in the aftermath of sexual violence. There are high costs to survivors (and therefore to society) if we fail to ameliorate harm when we had the opportunity to do so.

However, research validation is difficult to achieve due to ethical challenges of engaging survivors in evaluative research.   

“The nature of sexual assault services presents challenges for evaluation. Most sexual assault agencies provide crisis intervention services, typically free of charge and brief in duration, to clients who may be in crisis and/or in danger. The context in which rape crisis services are delivered raises practical concerns for evaluators who must take care to protect the safety, confidentiality of survivors, and design their evaluations in ways that respect recovery from sexual assault. For example, contacting a survivor in her home to evaluate the sexual assault services she previously received may violate her privacy, interfere with her recovery process, or place her in danger (if she lives with her assailant).”[1]

Innovation is called for, as in spite of these challenges, research is needed.  To demonstrate quality we need evaluation and documentation testing effective models of care, victim/survivor feedback and outcome measures, understanding of sexual assault and abuse recovery in different cultures, and development and evaluation of interventions (including alternative therapies) to highlight Good Practice in crisis services and to enhance service delivery.[2]

A further barrier might be to the achievement of quality itself.  Decades of under-resourcing to the sector is likely to have constrained the capacity of services to support workers well and to always meet the needs of survivors.   However, informal reports from services of client feedback are that this is good.  A move to collecting this information on a national basis would take us one step closer to being able to achieve and assert quality.  

  1.  Wasco, S., Campbell, R., Howard, A., Mason, G., Staggs, S., Schewe, P., & Riger, S. (2004). A statewide evaluation of services provided to rape survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 252-263, p.253.
  2.  Callender, T., & Dartnall, L. (2001). Mental health responses for victims of sexual violence and rape in resource-poor settings: Briefing paper. Sexual Violence Research Initiative. Columbia University Press.

practice examples

  1. Client feedback - in light of how difficult this is to get formally in the crisis situation, one service records spontaneous evaluative comments made by victims/survivors during support at police interviews and medical examinations.

  2. Service feedback – informal feedback gathered in tri-partite meetings, and regular feedback surveys to gather qualitative information from all of those involved in partnered service provision.

  3. SASH-Nelson (Sexual Abuse Support and Healing) allocates a training fund for each worker and sets a resources budget to purchase the latest books and video resources.

  4. At Wellington HELP’s Crisis Response Team, if there is a phone call that stands out in some way – it is taken to the monthly meeting (as opposed to supervision) to be discussed as a team so that all can benefit from the learning.  This requires a level of trust for it to be done well.