Approved Provider scheme The AP Scheme is a voluntary, standards-based accreditation for NHS and independent care providers. It covers a broad range of care settings, delivering comprehensive support and rehabilitation for individuals with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) at every stage of their care pathway.

With over 40 years of expertise in acquired brain injury care, Headway – the brain injury association, launched the Approved Provider (AP) Scheme in 2010 with the primary aim to "promote and maximise the quality of specialist care delivery and appropriate training for those involved with brain injury survivors with complex, physical or behavioural impairment" everywhere in the UK.

By participating, facilities affirm their dedication to patient care excellence, operational efficiency, and continuous improvement. This Scheme is more than meeting standards; it's about being part of a community committed to advancing ABI care through innovation and quality. Our accreditation process is designed to be collaborative and supportive, guiding units through every step towards achieving and maintaining exemplary service standards.

The AP Scheme fosters a network of excellence, promoting best practices and a culture of quality that benefits patients, families, and providers.

Embrace Headway’s mission of Improving Life After Brain Injury. Join us to ensure the highest quality care for ABI survivors throughout their journey to recovery.

"A well thought out scheme that supports our efforts to improve our service"

– Headway Approved Provider Unit.

The Headway Approved Provider accreditation logoWhy become a Headway Approved Provider?

Some of the benefits of Headway Approved Provider Accreditation are:

  • Demonstrating a commitment to continuous service improvement
  • Ensuring that the workforce is continuously trained and skilled
  • Encouraging joint working with service users and family members
  • An external and objective assessment with a professional experienced in the field of ABI and an assessor with family/personal experience of ABI
  • ABI Experts' recommendations
  • Continuous support and collaboration  
  • Headway Accreditation Logo & Certificate
  • Discounted access to Headway Training
  • Headway Corporate Membership
"We have just had our Care Inspection and we have been graded with maximum grades in all areas. The benefits of being a registered Headway Approved Provider and achieving your Standards helps us to provide a higher quality of care than any other nursing home."

– Victoria, Home Manager.

Find a Headway Approved Provider

You can search for specialist care providers through the online map or on our regional list

Explore the sections below to find out more about the Approved Provider process.

"It is helpful to get a different perspective on our service"

– Headway Approved Provider Unit.

Who can apply?

Currently, the accreditation scheme can be applied for by NHS and independent care settings, including hospitals and neuro-rehabilitation units, residential and nursing homes and respite facilities, specialising in acquired brain injury (ABI).

Initially, the scheme has operated solely in England, but is now open to units in Scotland and Wales. Units are required to be registered with the relevant statutory body, e.g. CQC or equivalent.

Headway recognises the need for domicillary care providers to have access to accreditation systems, however this is not currently within the scope of the Headway Approved Provider scheme.

See section on "What constitutes a unit" for further information on how we look at internal variations within organisations with regards to how a facility will be assessed.

Registration for assessment requires confirmed acceptance of the Headway Approved Provider scheme Terms and Conditions - a copy of which is available to interested units on request. Accreditation as a Headway Approved Provider is for a two year period.

Please contact Headway's Approved Provider Lead if you require further clarification.

Registration process

The registration process begins when a service applies to become a Headway Approved Provider.

You can download a diagram showing the registration process, or contact us for more information.

What constitutes a Unit?

As specified in the Headway Approved Provider Project Terms and Conditions, a Unit is defined as:

'.... any single operational Unit with a specific remit (e.g. neuro rehab, slow stream rehab, TLU) within a single-managed residential facility (such unit to be identified by Headway at its absolute discretion)'.

Click here to view some examples of what consititutes a unit.

Why is accreditation important?

Service users, families and commissioners face a variety of options when deciding what service is the most appropriate for their needs. The Headway Approved Provider scheme provides an accredited sign of quality that will aid that decision making process. The process is driven from a Service User/Carer perspective and encompasses evidence based practice, sound governance and is outcome focused.

The Headway Approved Provider scheme utilises standards have been trialled and reviewed during a pilot stage. It is a formal procedure in which we assess and verify the provider organisation in accordance with these standards. Only units which successfully achieve all required standards receive accreditation, being granted Headway Approved Provider status.

The Headway Approved Provider scheme operates a robust system of assessment involving on-site evaluation of evidence, together with discussion with staff, service users and, where possible, family/carers. For further details of the standards please see the 'Summary of standards to be assessed' page.

The value of accreditation goes beyond a competitive distinction from other service providers. It demonstrates commitment to continuous service improvement and ensuring a workforce trained and skilled in working with individuals with brain injury.

Successful Headway Approved Provider units receive a certificate, and are entitled to utilise The Headway Approved Provider logo on promotional and other materials for the duration of the 2-year registration period (subject to agreed terms and conditions). Successful Headway Approved Providers units additionally feature on the Headway website.

Summary of standards to be assessed

The Approved Provider Scheme is based on a set of standards that encompass the six themes.

Click here to view the Headway Approved Provider standards.

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