Midwest Client Partner
I often found myself asking this question as an operator after going through an audit. Prior to the audit, I would find myself focusing on whatever my weak points were from the previous audit and did not necessarily focus on the audit in its entirety. Inevitably, I would improve in one area, but another area would drop off. When we think about what makes a good audit, we need to look at the different parts of the audit, but understand we need to maintain focus on the audit as a whole. A lot of the parts go hand in hand with the overall review. So what can you do to increase your overall audit performance?
Having documentation organized and readily available is one of the biggest areas facilities tend to hit a home run, or completely miss the mark. When documentation is unorganized or not readily available, it tends to carry over into other areas of the audit as well. For example, when skills tests do not go as well as they should, I ask to see the in-service training documentation. In most instances, the in-service training documentation is lacking or missing, and attendance is not managed as well as it should be. This one issue then has a negative effect on two areas of the review; skills and documentation.
When an auditor arrives, they will set everything up based on your EAP. If you consistently practice an unresponsive pullout, with the equipment already available at the side of the pool, staff may be confused when the auditor asks you to leave the equipment where it is commonly stored during the skill review. We want to see how staff reacts in the most realistic way possible. It does not make sense to bring the equipment to the rescue ahead of time, as this won’t happen in a real scenario.
I cannot reiterate this enough. When we look at audit performance and what factor has the most impact, every auditor will tell you the same thing. When supervisor performance requires improvement, lifeguard observations more than likely do as well. Having a supervisor on deck who is actively assisting staff and providing direct feedback to staff as they are scanning is one of the best ways to improve your overall audit performance. This is a two for one, as when you increase your supervisor performance, you will undoubtedly improve the lifeguard’s on-stand performance as well. A facility’s overall risk prevention can only be as good as the lifeguard observations. Therefore, having an engaged supervisor visible on deck and ensuring lifeguards are doing a good job is an excellent way to establish a 5-star level every time!
Communicate with the auditor prior to skills tests if you think your team may do something unique or out of place. Auditors have a vast knowledge of aquatics and risk management but none of us have seen everything there is to see. Explain why you do what you do, and how it still meets the objective, so the auditor can evaluate the objective is being satisfied.
Having a trainer AED that does not work is a sure-fire way to negatively impact performance. Staff need to be able to practice with an AED that will provide realistic prompts and it should match the facility’s AED to make the training as accurate as possible. Think about all your equipment and how it might need to be used in real life. Do your backboard straps perform the way they should? Do you have manikins that should provide feedback for depth and rate, but the batteries need replacing? Do your lifeguard umbrellas provide shade, or are they wind torn and barely functional? All these little things can add up and be the difference between a 4 or 5 star audit to something lower.
Following just a few of these steps can definitely improve your overall audit performance, but if you are looking for that consistent 5-star level, I would encourage you to go through all of these steps in addition to everything else you are already doing. A 5-star audit is obtainable but not easy. Remember that auditors are there to help your facility become better and to also observe all the great things you are already doing. Be sure to spend time with your auditor to get a better understanding of what standards need some additional work, and how to go about achieving those standards. Auditors are encouraged to provide suggestions, but that does not necessarily mean that is the only way to achieve the standard. Bring up alternative ideas with the auditor if you do not think their suggestions will work for your facility. Train hard, stay safe and good luck!