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Advice and Counselling Service

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Access Policy

The Advice and Counselling Service is committed to providing an environment that is acceptable and accessible to all clients and that enables all clients to be treated with dignity and respect.

Access to services

Contacting the service

Written information

Alternative appointments

Promotion and publicity

Monitoring, evaluation and feedback

Withdrawal or refusal of service

Staff

Consistency of service provision

Environment

Complaints

Awareness and policy review

 

Access to Services

Services are available to all current students of Queen Mary, including those on electives and placements. 

Students who are temporarily out of attendance, on a period of study abroad, or distance learners will be able to access some services as normal, while others may be adjusted as it may not be practical to deliver the specific support remotely.

Students will be offered an appointment with a specialist if their need can be met within the parameters, knowledge and expertise of our service.  For queries outside the remit of the Service, staff will provide information about alternative sources of help wherever possible.

  • Prospective students

Welfare Advice is available to prospective students.  Services will only be offered to prospective students on matters that relate to their future studies.  Complex casework or advocacy services may be limited in certain circumstances.  Immigration advice and services are available to all international applicants.

  • Ex students

The Service provides limited services to students once they have graduated.  Staff will work with clients towards an agreed ending at or before graduation.  Where this is not possible, limited service provision is extended to ensure a smooth transition into external sources of support and to facilitate appropriate referrals. This will not normally extend beyond one or two sessions.   

Students who have graduated from one course and will join another QMUL course at the start of the next academic year can continue to access services in the usual way, if there is a continuing need to do so.

Students seeking advice about immigration options after their studies can continue to access the service during the four months after the end of their course (when their immigration permission usually expires).

 

Contacting the Service

Contact can be made in person at advertised times, and by telephone, email, in writing or via our website.

 

Written information

  • Our website has been prepared using accessible templates provided by QMUL.  
  • Leaflets and written information can be provided in alternative formats such as large print, Braille, tape, CD/disk or coloured paper on request.  Staff will take account of individual access requirements in routine correspondence.  
  • We strive to ensure that our written information complies with plain English standards and is appropriate for students with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties.  

Alternative appointments

If a client is genuinely unable to attend the service in person, appointments and consultation may be offered by telephone, email or online, if appropriate.  Every effort will be made to provide the same level of service.

 

Promotion and Publicity

We ensure that our promotional materials reflect the diversity of the student body.

We inform students about our range of services and how to access them in the following ways:  

  • We participate in the university’s induction events for new students
  • We play a key role in the university’s welcome programme for international students
  • We attend student induction activities in Academic Schools as required
  • We provide all academic schools and professional services with information about our services for inclusion in student handbooks and other communications
  • We attend academic school staff meetings on a regular basis to ensure appropriate and timely referrals to our services
  • We liaise with professional services departments on a regular basis to ensure appropriate and timely referrals to our services
  • We regularly liaise with the Students’ Union to ensure appropriate and timely referrals to our services
  • We participate in QMUL staff induction activities
  • We distribute advertising materials for display in all QMUL buildings including halls of residence
  • We are members of the QMUL group for student support staff across QMUL
  • We offer individual consultation to staff who need support and guidance in their pastoral role with students.
  • We participate in QMUL open days and school open / post offer days as required
  • We participate in QMUL outreach and activities as appropriate
  • We have a detailed website and regularly liaise with other QMUL departments to ensure appropriate links are made to our site

 

Monitoring, Evaluation and Feedback 

  • We collect monitoring data for clients using our services in order to monitor our accessibility and address any need for us to engage in outreach work or proactive involvement with particular student groups.  
  • We run anonymous client feedback processes for our core service provision throughout the year.  This allows us to gain feedback on our service provision, monitor standards and reflect on areas for improvement or development.  
  • We have regular liaison with QMUL students’ union to facilitate feedback from the student body about our service provision and accessibility.  
  • Our Service has representation on QMUL’s Student Experience Advisory Group (via the Director of Student Services) and the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Student Support Board.  This facilitates feedback from students and staff about our service provision and accessibility.  
  • Regular meetings with academic schools and professional services allow us to respond to feedback, raise awareness about our service provision and consider demand for new services or developments.  
  • Staff regularly attend meetings, training and events through their professional organisations to monitor trends and demand for student services provision in the HE sector.

 

Withdrawal or refusal of service

In certain circumstances, access to our services may be limited or refused.  See our Withdrawal and Refusal of Service Policy.

 

Staff  

  • We consider local recruitment wherever possible in order to obtain a staff composition more representative of the area that QMUL is in. 
  • We aim to utilise local and national publications to encourage under-represented groups to apply for vacant positions, where appropriate.
  • We are committed to our staff participating in any training provided by QMUL on equal opportunities. 

 

Consistency of Service Provision

All specialist staff participate in regular supervision activities to monitor: 

  • quality
  • good practice and compliance with professional ethical standards
  • ethics and conflict of interest
  • consistency of decisions relating to clinical work, advice work and advocacy  

Our Welfare Advisers engage in regular casework supervision to monitor and assess casework.  A proportion of cases are selected at random to ensure an unbiased assessment of service provision. Welfare Advisers are regulated under OISC guidelines to give immigration advice. The OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) is an independent organisation that monitors immigration advice and services.

Counsellors engage in regular external clinical supervision in line with requirements of the BACP and BABCP and have regular case discussion meetings to monitor and assess clinical work. 

Our psychiatrists are regulated by NHS clinical governance and meet with our Senior Counsellor regularly to monitor service provision and consistency.

The Head of Service, Deputy Heads of Service and Frontline Services Manager monitor and review frontline service provision on an ongoing basis.

 

Environment

  • We strive to provide an environment that is accessible and acceptable to a diverse range of students by remaining aware of difference regarding ethnicity, culture, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender.  
  • We embrace the QMUL equality policies and strive to provide a confidential and non-judgemental environment that enables all clients to be treated with dignity and respect.  
  • Our premises are fully wheelchair accessible.   
  • We have a mobile loop system.  
  • Our waiting areas and consulting rooms are arranged to take account of clients with mobility and sensory disabilities. 
  • We are responsive to the needs of clients with physical or mental disabilities and will make reasonable adjustments necessary to provide an environment appropriate to individual needs.

 

Complaints

Complaints are dealt with under our Complaints Policy.

 

Awareness and policy review

All Advice and Counselling Service staff are made aware on this policy during their induction. 

Regular team communications (at least annually) ensure that awareness of this policy is maintained, and to enable discussion on improvements and development.

Students are made aware of this policy via:  

  • A notice in our waiting area
  • Publication on Advice and Counselling Service website

 

This policy is reviewed annually by the Head of the Advice and Counselling Service.

Updated: February 2016

Review Date: February 2017

Staff member responsible for review:  Laura SeQueira

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