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On 1 July 2019, the new Aged Care Quality Standards will acquire effect, and therefore the current set of 4 program-specific standards for Residential Care, Home Care, Transition Care, and therefore the National Aboriginal & sound Islander Flexible Aged Care Programs are going to be retired.

While these standards focus totally on assessing organisational performance against practices and processes for supplying, the new standards will assess organisational performance against outcomes achieved for consumers.

This fundamental shift in approach from process to outcome evaluation by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) aligns quality review processes with commercial care and repair industries and raises the bar in aged-care service evaluation — the longer term of consumer-directed care.

There are eight Quality Standards that conjure the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

Consumer dignity and selection
Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
Personal care and clinical care
Services and supports for daily living
Organisation’s service environment
Feedback and complaints
Human resources
Organisational governance

Each of those eight Quality Standards is expressed in three ways:

A statement of outcome for the consumer — Quality review processes concentrate on consumer outcomes and therefore the examination of the evidence of consumer experience.
A statement of expectation for the organisation — Quality review processes concentrate on the systems and processes that organisations have in situ to support the realisation of this statement.
Organisational requirements — The Aged Care Standards Guidance Materials provide a top-level view of every requirement, reflective questions, and samples of evidence that demonstrate how elements of the organisational requirements are met.

So how will we steel oneself against this transition?

It will be a distinct process for all providers, enthusiastic about many variables — the size of service, location of service, staff resources available so on.

The AACQA is incredibly clear on the very fact that it’ll not be prescriptive and tell you ways to run your service.

Providers are encouraged to stipulate their process for transition to the new Aged Care Standards within an Action Plan. Whatever path is taken, the Action Plan should aim to:

Align systems, policies, and practices with the new standards.
Support staff to know the wants of the new standards.
Support consumers to know what the changes mean to them.

Self-assessment

The Aged Care Standards Guidance Materials is used as a measuring instrument to self-assess performance against the organisational requirements. Organisations must look carefully at each of the three expressions of every standard, however, to account for consumer outcomes in navigating this period of transition.

It will likely be helpful for providers to initially map existing evidence, comprising current practices and processes, against the organisational requirements listed for every standard, and consider the reflective questions and samples of actions and evidence that are listed within the Guidance Materials. This mapping exercise should seek to work out whether the current scope of obtainable evidence is satisfactory, in need of revision, or has identified gaps that require to be addressed within the lead-up to 1 July 2019.

Providers can then leverage off well-established service evaluation frameworks to increase this mapping process as they transition from old to new in accounting for outcome evaluation.

Stay ahead with a whole-of-staff approach

Operators are encouraged to involve all staff within the transition process — remembering that accreditation is now unannounced and the main target is on the buyer (Consumer Experience Report) and staff.

The involvement of all staff is critical. Ongoing compliance can’t be managed from an office and therefore the expectation is going to be that the staff providing the care — be it aid, hotel services, or health care — will have a radical understanding of the standards and the way they work.

In particular, staff will understand some new concepts, such as:

The dignity of Risk — embraces the concept that self-determination and therefore the right to require reasonable risks are essential for dignity and self-esteem.
Cultural Safety — an environment that’s safe for people: where there’s no assault, challenge, or denial of their identity, of who they’re and what they have. it’s about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and skill, of learning, living, and dealing along with dignity and truly listening.
Diversity — to embrace and understand the differences that make lived experiences unique.
Communication — conversation, actually knowing the consumer and their needs/wants/requirements.
Inclusion — to be involved in decision-making that impacts the buyer.
Choice — to still make choices about optimal care and services.
If providers haven’t yet accessed the resource materials provided on the AACQA website, now’s the time to try and do it. AACQA wear their website a template for self-assessment on these standards, which may be an honest baseline document for direct care staff to think about while ensuring ongoing compliance with these standards.

As providers move forward it’s worth noting that everything within the new standards is within the current standards, it’s primarily about the how not the what. the main target is on enhancing the buyer experience while providing optimum care. The new standards are a minimum, innovators will thrive!

*Sharyn McIlwain is Principal Advisor, Residential Aged Care, Leading Age Services Australia

**Troy Speirs is Principal Advisor, Home Care, Leading Age Services Australia

Image credit: ©shutterstock

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