European Quality in Social Services

EQUASS (European Quality in Social Services) is an integrated sector-specific quality certification system that certifies compliance with social services . EQUASS AIMS to Enhance the social sector by Engaging providers service in quality and continuous improvement and by Guaranteeing quality of the service users Services Throughout Europe.

EQUASS, [1] formally called the European Quality in Rehabilitation Mark (EQRM) is an initiative of the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) [2] and its secretariat is based in Brussels .


In July 1995, the European Platform for Rehabilitation, then called the European Platform for Vocational Rehabilitation (EPVR), [3] tasked its working group „Quality management and cost effectiveness“ to study the launch of a „Quality Award for Vocational Rehabilitation“ [ 4] for European institutes of vocational rehabilitation. The award would require an audit which, if successful, would show the Institute of Vocational Rehabilitation in accordance with the standards of the platform. The certification system was mainly inspired by the CARF certification. [5]The European Platform for Rehabilitation enrolled a few of its members to implement the quality of EQRM (European Quality in Rehabilitation Mark). The first event Awarding eu lieu in Rome in December 2003. [6] The main values behind the quality mark Were:

  • A client-focused approach of rehabilitation services
  • An awareness of the rights of service users
  • The involvement and empowerment of service users
  • A systematic enhancement of quality of life
  • Motivation of staff
  • Efficient business management practices
  • Measuring and proving the service outcomes and results
  • Services providers are accountable for their actions and their use of funds

In 2008, [7] the European Platform for Rehabilitation and Additional Quality Assurance (EQUASS Assurance), added its EQRM mark (now renamed EQUASS Excellence). In December 2008 the European Platform for Rehabilitation launched a two-year project, part funded by the Progress Program of the European Commission . The aim of the project is to develop, with the collaboration of the European stakeholders in social services, a European Quality Framework for Social Services of General Interest (SSGI). The Framework would include the principles of quality assurance and quality assurance for the whole sector, and operational performance indicators for measuring and benchmarking performance on the quality criteria in social services. [8]In 2010, the platform launched the results of the Common Quality Framework for SSGI, [9] including the certification of a few pilot sites in charge of testing the new quality system in various types of social services. [10] In January 2012, [11] EQUASS deployed in Europe, and no longer limited to other disability services providers. The new quality standard was then based on the Common Quality Framework for SSGI, but also other quality standards, listed below.

Main EQUASS characteristics

Compliance with the European quality requirements

Social services providers that meet the certification requirements for European Quality in Social Services

– The Voluntary European Quality Framework for Social Services [12] which was adopted by the Social Protection Committee in October 2010. [13]

– The Common Quality Framework for Social Services of General Interest [14] (December 2010). [15]

– Vocational Education and Training institutions that fulfill the criteria for the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET [16] which was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council on 18 June 2009.

– The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (December 2006).

Principles of Quality

The European stakeholders (funders, social partners, client representatives and advocacy groups), [17] balancing business efficiency requirements, with a strong focus on protecting the rights of clients, and a person-centredapproach, while ensuring professional development and training of the staff.

EQUASS certification programs

EQUASS certification offers a formal recognition of meeting the European quality requirements. EQUASS Assurance and EQUASS Excellence are based on the same Principles for Quality, with EQUASS Assurance being a stepping stone towards achieving the EQUASS Excellence level. [18]

Quality Assurance in Social Services (EQUASS Insurance)

Principles for Quality assurance. It can be viewed as a basic requirement for operating social services, having a feasible threshold of costs, efforts and resources required. An organization that meets the EQUASS Assurance criteria is certified for a two-year period.

Excellence in Social Services (EQUASS Excellence)

Excellence in the development of a service provider and the development of a service provider. An organization that meets the EQUASS Excellence criteria is certified for a three-year period. [19]

EQUASS stakeholders and supervision

EQUASS is supervised and supported by a network of external and internal stakeholders. The EQUASS Awarding Committee included key European actors in social services and EU politics.

EQUASS Awarding Committee

All awarding processes are supervised by the European Awarding Committee. The committee includes many of the key European stakeholders in the sector such as service users, social partners, service providers, policy makers and funders:

Council of Europe

Business Disability Forum (formerly Employers‘ Forum on Disability)

European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities

European Disability Forum

European Network of Social Authorities

European Platform for Rehabilitation

European Social Insurance Platform

European Federation of Older People

Rehabilitation International – Europe

EQUASS certified organizations

As of July 2013 , there are 440 certified organizations in 11 European countries, serving over 100,000 users, and employing over 14,000 staff members.

The areas in which the certified organizations are active include, among others:

  • Social inclusion [20]
  • Professional rehabilitation , [21] coaching and counseling
  • Social enterprises , vocational training [22] [23] and adapted work for people with disabilities, or job placement in the open labor market
  • Occupational therapy , respite care , community and social centers [24] [25]
  • Physiotherapy
  • Independent Living
  • Early intervention and childcare [26]
  • Youth care
  • Elderly care , and assisted living services
  • Homelessness [27] [28] [29]

In Norway , EQUASS Assurance certification is one of several quality labels that can be applied to the services provided by the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV) . [30] As a result of that endorsement, about 75% of the EQUASS Assurance Certified Organizations are located in Norway (as of 2013).

In Portugal [31] and Estonia , [32] the European Social Fund has supported the capacity building of its social services providers by funding and the implementation of a new quality system.

In Greece , a research paper published in 2013 in the Disability and Health Journal [33] found that „[The] EQUASS initiative, developed according to European standards and implemented in resource-limited settings, was recognized as the most Greek rehabilitation settings „. The articles further claims that the „EQUASS initiative is emerging as the most appropriate for implementation in the Greek health care setting,“ […] and has already been partially applied in the Greek welfare sector. “

See also

  • European social model
  • Social protection
  • Social welfare provision
  • Institute for Continuous Improvement in Public Services


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  2. Jump up^ European Platform for Rehabilitation website,, accessed on 26/08/2013.
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  4. Jump up^ EPR Annual report 2001[2]accessed is 18.09.2013.
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  6. Jump up^ EPR Annual report 2003
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  8. Jump up^ Guus van Beek and Brigitte van Lierop, July – August 2009, „EQUASS: European kwaliteitscertificering in of social sector“,Maandblad Re-integratie, pages 12-15
  9. Jump up^ Common Quality Framework[4], accessed on 28/08/2013.
  10. Jump up^ Prometheus ArchivedProject2013-09-18
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  13. Jump up^ Karolina Krzystek, 2012, „What is Quality in the Sector of Services Working with Homeless People?“,Homeless in Europe, Spring 2012 edition,Made to Measure? Quality in Social Services from the Perspective of Services Working with Homeless People, page 5,[7]
  14. Jump up^ Guus van Beek, „Common Quality Framework for Social Services of General Interest“, June 2010, Brussels[8]
  15. Jump up^ Guus van Beek, 2012, „EQUASS: European Quality in Social Services and its Relevance for Homeless Services“,Homeless in Europe, pages 18-20, Spring 2012 edition,Made to Measure? Quality in Social Services from the Perspective of Services Working with Homeless People,[9]
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  17. Jump up^ Guus Van Beek, December 2011, „Quality Approaches to Social Services at the European Level“[11]
  18. Jump up^ Jurij Svajger, June 2011, „Uvedba sistemov in orodij za obvladovanje kakovosti v zdravstveno organizacijo“Slovensko Združenje za kakovost in odličnost: KakovostNo. 2,[12], is accessed 9/18/2013.
  19. Jump up^ Guus van Beek, 2012 „Qualidade e Certificação – Qualificação dos serviços sociais“ AFID Diferença Magazine No. 16, Pages 10 to 14[13], is accessed 9/18/2013.
  20. Jump up^ [14]“Europas beste attføringsbedrift“ Norwegian Labor and Welfare Service (NAV), 7 December 2009, we accessed 9/18/2013.
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  31. Jump up^ Programa ARQUIMEDES, „Tipologia de Intervenção 6.4 Qualidade dos Serviços e Organizações“,Programa Operacional Potencial Humano, page 9[24]
  32. Jump up^ Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, „Public Health Development Plan 2009-2020 – Summary of activity report of 2011“, 2011 „Archived copy“ (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-26 . Retrieved 2013-09-24 .
  33. Jump up^ Vassilios Dimitriadis, Antonis A. Kousoulis, Markaki Adelais, Markos N. Sgantzos, Hadjipavlou Alexander and Christos Lionis, July 2013, „Quality assessment systems in rehabilitation services for people with disabilities in Greece: A critical review“,Disability and Health Journal, Volume 6, Issue 3, Pages 157-164, PII: S1936-6574 (13) 00006-X[25]