Here at Yarno, we’re always on top of changes in law that affect business and employee behaviour. Right now, there’s some pretty big changes going on in the aged care sector, in the form of the new Aged Care Standards. But reading through these standards involves a lot of time spent furrowing your brow at the perplexing legal language our legislators insist on. That’s why we put together this factsheet; we removed all the linguistic challenges, and have decrypted what everything means, and what it means you have to do to comply with the standards.
What’s changing in Aged Care?
- The Commonwealth government is implementing new aged care guidelines called the Aged Care Quality Standards. They completely replace the existing standards across the various fields of aged care.
- An Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has been established. It has multiple purposes, but what's important to note is that it functions to enhance the safety and well-being of aged care consumers, and that it has complaints handling and regulatory responsibilities. This is who will handle anything to do with the guidelines, such as complaints, failure to comply with them, and any future amendments.
- Basically, these new standards focus on providing quality outcomes for those who receive services, not just setting out what services need to be provided.
Who do these changes affect?
Compliance with these standards is mandatory for all Commonwealth subsidised aged care service providers. So, if you work for an aged care service provider, or have aged care services provided for you, you are directly affected.
What’s the purpose of the new Aged Care Quality Standards?
The standards aim to:
- Increase consumer autonomy – that is, increase the decision-making power each individual consumer holds as to what and how care is provided to them. Rather than the health care provider making unilateral decisions, under these guidelines, decision-making power is shared between the provider and the consumer.
- Increase the personalisation of care – rather than health care providers providing uniform care to all regardless of circumstance, these guidelines require the provider to tailor their care to each individual. This involves taking into account each person’s individual diversities such as their culture and to have regard to their mental and spiritual health.
Who is responsible for upholding the Aged Care Standards?
The burden of upholding these guidelines isn’t so much placed on the staff who interact with consumer’s daily, but more so with how the processes, governance, hiring and training within service providers is structured in order to provide quality outcomes for consumers across the board. In this way, the standards are concerned with:
- Human resources – the hiring, rostering, performance and management of all staff providing aged care services.
- Organisational Governance – the actual structure and decision-making processes of a service provider must align with the objects of the standards.
- Feedback and Complaints – each service provider must have in place a processes to handle, respond to, and implement complaints.
What’s changing in Aged Care?
The biggest change is that these guidelines essentially legally burden service providers not just to provide care, but to provide quality care. Under these guidelines, quality cares consists of (but is not limited to):
- Care is provided in a manner that is culturally sensitive and accommodates each individual's particular needs.
- Communication about the care for the individual is done so effectively and transparently, particularly where multiple services are involved in providing care for that individual.
- Care provided doesn’t only focus on physical health, but also emphasises the importance of each client's mental health.
- Where food services are provided, the food is healthy, of at least reasonable quality, and adequate quantities are provided.
- Where equipment services are provided, it is suitable for the intended use, well-maintained, and most importantly: safe.
The guidelines also place legal importance on how service providers handle infection control and management in two ways:
- Infection control – Providers must take active steps to reduce the spread of infection. This involves the isolation of infected clients, and use of effective hand washing practices, not sharing infected medical implements, among other practices. Organisations must develop an effective infection guideline and plan in accordance with national standards.
- Antibiotic resistance – Providers are obligated to take steps to reduce antibiotic resistance, such as not over-prescribing antibiotics. More information as to what reducing antibiotic resistance involves can be found here and here.
When do these changes come into effect?
As of 1 July 2019, compliance with the standards is mandatory.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Basically, if the commissioner makes a finding that a service provider is not complying with the standards, that service provider can have their accreditation revoked. This means that they will no longer receive Commonwealth services. Having accreditation revoked is a reasonably complicated process, more information on this process is available on our comprehensive aged care guidelines article.
What do YOU have to do?
In previous aged care guidelines, it was only required that service providers provided services. In contrast, the new guidelines require that a certain level of service is provided. The Commonwealth Department of Health recommends that using this transitional period to:
- Identify and address exactly what areas need to be improved in order to meet the new standards.
- Support staff in understanding the requirements. This may involve retraining for "soft" qualities such as compassion, respect, and consideration of culture.
- Support those receiving care, as well as their families, carers and representatives to understand what the changes will mean for them.
- Align their processes, system structures, and policies with the new standards.
Also note that throughout the guidelines there is emphasis not just on implementation and compliance with the standards, but also on documenting how each provider does so. It’s not enough to be compliant; you have to be able to show how you comply to the guidelines.
For a look at what each of the eight standards means and requires you to do, see our article “What the new aged care standards actually mean”.
The number one take away from the new aged care standards is that aged care should focus on the consumer: ultimately, aged care providers are now legally required to ensure that each individual receives the best care available to them. But this does not necessarily mean the most comprehensive or expensive care; the focus is on what each individual needs according to their own particular needs.
There’s a lot to get through with these new guidelines, but don’t worry, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, Yarno can help. Our mobile training software can be used to train and communicate to a large, disparate workforce quickly to bring your team up to speed.
Call Mark today on 0401 872 305 or head over to our contact us page.
Courtney is the face behind the Yarno blog. She’s our fact-finding expert, Instagram connoisseur and the only person we know who can write 1500 words and fix a fence in the same half hour.