This article is taken from the Summer 2011 issue of LymphLine, the LSN's quarterly newsletter available to all LSN members.
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LSN awarded Information
Standard quality mark
As we are all aware, there is a vast amount of health information, in many different formats, available to individuals, particularly on the internet but it can be very difficult to know which can be trusted. The Information Standard, which is endorsed by the Department of Health, has been established to help people to recognise quality information by providing a recognised and trusted quality mark.
The Lymphoedema Support Network is the largest provider of information about the condition in the UK… possibly even the world, and as such, we were keen to be able to be officially recognised as a provider of high quality information that those living with lymphoedema, their families and carers, and the healthcare professionals supporting them, can trust. So at the beginning of the year, the LSN Trustees made the decision to try and gain the Information Standard quality mark.
The Information Standard doesn’t look at individual pieces of information but at the way the information is written, researched and reviewed. There are 18 separate clauses that organisations have to prove they fulfill and each of these clauses is scrutinised in great detail. They range from the qualifications of our authors, the research that backs up their work, ways in which we document what information we produce, and how we ensure it is kept up to date.
At the beginning of April, an assessor from the Royal Society for Public Health spent two days with the LSN examining all our policies, procedures, the types of information we produce and talking to Trustees and staff involved in information production. A selection of our information and the research behind it was also sent to an external examiner and we were very encouraged when the external examiner gave us full marks… but we still had a lot to prove to our visiting assessor.
We were warned within minutes of her arrival that it was almost unheard of for an organisation to pass this process on first visit and that realistically, by the end of the two days, we should hope to be at a point where we were aware of the areas where we fell short, or ‘points of non-conformity’ as she put it, at which point we would be given 28 days to try and correct them, otherwise we would need to start the whole process again.
The days were very hard work and involved a huge amount of preparation, but the outcome was outstanding. Despite her warnings, the LSN was found to have no areas of non-conformity and on top of this, she could not even identify any ‘grey areas’! It was obvious she was very impressed, not only with what we produce and how we go about it but also at the outstanding commitment shown by our Trustees, staff, and authors.
At the time of going to press we are awaiting our ‘official’ notification but we anticipate that by the time you receive your LymphLine, LSN information including our fact sheets, website and LymphLine, will very proudly bear the Information Standard quality mark!!