The Royal Commission has been the topic on the tip of every aged-care professional’s tongue over recent months, but 2019 is going to the year that the impact gets very, very real.
Making decisions to support the complex environment that our aged care leaders operate in has never been more imperative.
With a funding model that doesn’t support consistent quality care, along with the pressures of the Royal Commission and the pending new aged care standards, the sector – both residential and community – is facing pressure to adjust. And adjust quickly.
This year, the announcement of the Royal Commission into aged care quickly outlined the role and importance HR plays in planning for and supporting leaders over the next 12 months.
With submission deadlines looming for large and small aged care organisations alike, the first half of 2019 will be one of significant action and activity for those in the sector – particularly those responsible for guiding your company’s HR.
For aged care leaders, the time to prepare is now. performHR ER Service Director, Rosalind Loxton, explains the five key actions aged care organisations can take in order to set their teams up to tackle these challenges head on.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
Submissions to the Royal Commission and the intense focus on quality standards will generate a new wave of activity in 2019. It’s a daunting prospect, but one all aged care business leaders must face. Key to tackling it is establishing a core support team, surrounding yourself with the skills and expertise when and where needed. You quickly need to identify key people in the organisation who will be part of this team, and also think about what external help you may require.
Across the sectors we are seeing committees and sub committees being established. These committees are accountable for monitoring and responding to the findings of the Royal Commission, and driving action where needed. This ensures that business leaders and managers are confident they are up-to-date with the latest information and activity generated by the Royal Commission and can effectively flow this messaging though all levels of employees.
Ensure your policies and procedures are fit for purpose
Policies and procedures will come under intense scrutiny, so you need to review and update them. Even if they were reviewed and updated relatively recently, it’s an exercise we recommend you go through.
Policies and Procedures are only as good as their implementation so make sure your managers are trained and confident in the processes and that your processes are realistic and achievable within your business. When it comes to crunch time, these polices will guide your team and you will also need to ensure that your employees, have read, understood, and signed off on all policies.
Your policies and procedures also need to be ‘real’ – they must accurately reflect what happens in the business. If they been inherited from generic templates, they will not be specific to your requirements. All employees must be clear on expectations and what will happen if the policies and procedures are not followed. As a business leader, it is important to acknowledge that policies and procedures are your key tool in mitigating organisational risk, and compliance is crucial. If your policies have not been reviewed by someone with the correct expertise recently, they could come back to bite you in 2019.
Plan and position your team for media interest
Social media offers great opportunities for organisations to engage with their clients, employees, and take part in public conversations. Today, for many businesses, simply ‘doing nothing’ with the media and on social media is not an appropriate course of action. Unguided or irresponsible social media use, however, can leave aged care organisations open to multiple ramifications, including brand damage and legal implications where no social media policy is in place.
With the Royal Commission will come increased media scrutiny in 2019. Paired with a confidentiality agreement, a social media policy is your best line of defence in protecting and mitigating risk for both employers and employees.
And, again, the need for your employees to all understand your policy is critical. Do they know how to respond if approached by the media? And most importantly, are they aware of expectations around the workplace relevant content they are and are not permitted to share on social channels? Making sure you've got plans in place around who in your organisations is an approved representative to speak to the media on behalf of the company and ensure a consistent and appropriate response has been prepared for foreseeable issues.
Protect your culture, and support your people
The Royal Commission is not all doom and gloom; however, it will bring new challenges to aged care leaders and your employees. Now, more than ever, it’s important to ensure that your most important asset – your people – are supported and feel safe during times of uncertainty
A strong culture can be the driving force to create opportunity for growth during times of challenges and pressure. Working with your HR team and managers to ensure a consistent line of transparent communication and support is key.
Focus on the positives and the opportunity offered by the challenges in 2019. As a business leader, transparency and open communication is essential during challenging times. Allow your employees to feel supported in reporting and speaking up about workplace issues. Let them know that they have been heard, and that you value their conversations.
Proactive VS Reactive- Don’t lose sight of your strategic objectives
As an aged care leader, the focus is always firmly on providing the highest levels of quality care for residents. In 2019 your focus will also need to be split between the Royal Commission, while not losing sight on your strategic objectives.
Don’t let the Royal Commission dominate everything. Of course, it will be a very important part of 2019/20, but your residents and employees will want to see you “doing what you said you would”, not putting all your energy into one issue.
Be a driver of strategic vision, don’t take your eyes off the longer-term goals and improvements driving your organisation forward. Establishing a support committee will ensure that actions required by the royal commission are delivered, while your organisation is still moving forward with your improvements and goals list.
Stay positive and stay proactively on plan. Keep in mind that this is an opportunity, and while it can seem daunting and overwhelming at the moment, it is an opportunity for the industry to get some traction and some government buy-in. Use the Royal Commission and the opportunities it will bring with it to your advantage. Leveraging your HR capability to provide expert skills where needed, and support communication amongst your employees.
Asking the right questions and planning now is paramount because there is going to be a significant amount of work to undertake in 2019 – preparing yourself as a leader and preparing your teams so they have the right information and help to successfully navigate this once-in-a-generation change.
For many aged care businesses, 2019 will be critical. By following these five steps and getting the right resources to help you navigate through, you can set your business up for long-term success.