The announcement of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, along with the recent Four Corners Reports, has put a spotlight on the sector and understandably many are confused or concerned about what comes next. We have compiled a list of questions you may be asking, and developed our 8 'must know, must do' actions for Aged Care Leaders.
What does a Royal Commission mean?
A Royal Commission (RC) is an independent enquiry for the purpose of making recommendations for improvements. The intent of the RC into Aged Care is that it will look at the sector as a whole “without bias and prejudice”. Currently the terms of reference are being determined in consultation with the community and key industry influencers, but is anticipated to cover areas such as:
- The quality of care provided to older Australians, and the extent of substandard care;
- The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;
- The challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age;
- True cost of delivering care and appropriate funding arrangements moving forward;
- Workforce Matters and Aged Care Workforce Strategy;
- The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia;
Why is this happening now?
This is a great question and one that we cannot confidently answer. However, with the number of sanctions, pressure on providers due to both funding changes and the move to person centered care, we believe that it is an opportunity for government to get an ‘independent’ position on what our sector needs to confidently support Australia’s ageing population.
Like any significant change, there can be fear – fear of the unknown. It is important that all Aged Care leaders focus on what they can control, address any urgent needs but, be clear on where you are moving your organisation too.
What do aged care providers specifically need to address?
Whilst relevant stakeholders are providing recommendations on what the RC should focus on, the terms of reference for the RC are yet to be finalised. Once the terms of reference are known, it will be a lot clearer for us all on what the focus will be and therefore, what we all need to be prepared around.
In saying this, there are still things that we can do (and should do) to ensure that we are in a place to provide information if we are asked to. The number one priority is make sure your documentation is easily accessible and able to be compiled in a relatively quick timeframe without being overly onerous on your resources.
As information is released, we will continue to work with Aged Care industry leaders and partners to ascertain the exact requirements, however, what we do know is that individual Aged Care providers will need to have the right people and processes in place. There will be a shift to a true integrative model of not only documents and systems for HR, but also how the skillset and more importantly now, the attitude (or culture) of the people contribute to the delivery of quality outcomes. The changes that the sector will see is the intersection of HR tools, HR processes and culture.
What’s at stake?
This is not to be feared. The RC has not been announced to scare individuals who work within the industry. The focus for the RC is to provide an opportunity to implement real change and achieve improvement within the industry.
What can aged care providers do now?
- Become familiar with the Aged Care standards. Noting that we do not yet know the extent to which these will be interpreted and enforced.
- Ensure you have a good document Management System – and contact us if you need advice regarding this.
- Focus on your Workforce Strategy
Challenge your recruitment methodologies and be brave in your approach. There is a workforce of 360 000 currently working within the sector and our new approach needs to focus on creating a sustainable industry, an attractive industry for people to want to work in and an industry that ensures it has competently skilled people to deliver high quality care.
- Ensure your Employment Polices are current and provide your managers and employees guidance in proper processes
Specifically, ensure you have good policies and directives around Social Media use and Media enquiries and educate your employees so that they are aware of their responsibilities in these areas. The Aged Care Industry is in the spotlight and providers need to be able to be in control of their own narrative with regards to what is portrayed in the media.
- Transparency around disciplinary actions,particularly with regards to matters that relate to resident care. This includes:
- Ensuring policies regarding disciplinary action are up to date and best practice
- Providing procedural fairness in disciplinary processes
- Following through and investigating complaints and keeping clear records of any resolution
- Educate your employees on Confidentiality vs Reportable Incidents
Ensuring your employees are educated with regards to maintaining confidentiality in the workplace, but also their responsibilities to report questionable incidents.
Ensuring you have a workplace that allows people to feel comfortable to report matters when they feel the need.
- Build on your Health and Wellbeing support mechanisms
The announcement of the RC and the enduring process will have an impact on the health and wellbeing of some our valuable workforce. It is imperative that leaders are not only looking after themselves, but, that they have mechanisms in place to support their teams.
- Connect with the right people
Know your gaps and risk areas (resources and knowledge) and connect with the right organisations you trust to help you bridge those gaps. Now is a great time to be curious and confident in your approach to assessing your current tools, processes, skills and mindsets to fulfil the quality standards. Get good advice and invest in providing yourself, your Board and your leaders with peace of mind that you are doing everything within your control to lead your organisation through this transition.
For more information, please contact the performHR team.