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How changes in the aged care sector affect HR

Understanding challenges around appropriate HR practices in aged care.
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How changes in the aged care sector affect HR

How changes in the aged care sector affect HR

29 May 2019

The aged care system is evolving – both naturally and out of necessity. With Australia’s aging population, it comes as no surprise that the demand for various aged care services continues to escalate. However, the demand has also raised concerns on the quality of patient care and safety in our health care systems.

We’ve seen cases of mistreatment both on aged care patients and the workers caring for them. Research suggests that at the core of the quality challenge is a lack of effective leadership and appropriate HR practices.
With the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety currently underway, there are several changes that will take place from July 2019 that will directly impact organisations, employees, families and individuals receiving care. The changes see the introduction of the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

New Aged Care Quality Standards

 From 1 July, Aged Care Quality Standards will apply to all aged care service providers.
The new Aged Care Quality Standards will be comprised of:
  1. Consumer dignity and choice
  2. Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
  3. Personal care and clinical care
  4. Services and supports for daily living
  5. Organisation’s service environment
  6. Feedback and complaints
  7. Human resources
  8. Organisational governance

What HR needs to know?

 Standards 6, 7 and 8 have the most relevance for HR within the aged care sector. These 3 standards require aged care providers to:
  • Ensure the workforce is appropriately trained, qualified and resourced to deliver quality care that is kind, caring and respectful of each person’s diverse identity and culture
  • Maintain a culture of engagement, safety and accountability
  • Regularly seek input from the workforce to inform continuous improvements for aged care recipients and the organisation as a whole
  • Maintain an effective system of organisational governance.

What can HR do now to meet the new standards?

Build a transparent culture
Standard 6 requires a culture of transparency where individuals feel safe to provide and receive feedback. This also applies to patients and employees need to be appropriately trained to address feedback from aged care patients.
Feedback should then be used for continuous improvement and as a vehicle to better serve aged care patients and the organisation as a whole.
Organisations can receive feedback from employees through several channels such as regular one-on-one meetings with, engagement surveys and ‘suggestions” boxes’.
As with any feedback, it’s important to have a formalised review process in place and to take action where appropriate – and then, critically, to communicate what action has been taken and to escalate an issue if required. Indeed, accountability is a key component of this standard.
Organisations are required to review complaints and use this feedback to improve the quality of care and services. Resolving complaints within the organisation can help build the relationship between the consumer and the organisation. It can also lead to better outcomes.
Ensure a workforce that’s knowledgeable, capable and caring
Standard 7 requires an organisation to have and use a skilled and qualified workforce, sufficient to deliver and manage safe, respectful, and quality care and services, which meet the Aged Care Quality Standards, 2018.
The standard covers the whole HR remit from how organisations recruit, on-board and develop their people so that they can provide high quality care.
Aged care service providers face unique talent acquisition challenges so a streamlined, automated recruitment processes and proactive workforce planning can help. Having the right people in the right roles at the right time covers not just rostering but also talent mapping and succession planning. .
Learning and development play a significant role in ensuring compliance with the Aged Care Standards. It’s important to ensure employees understand and respect the patient’s cultural background and identity. Unconscious bias training is recommended to foster an inclusive culture.
Offering a variety of self-directed courses in addition to mandatory training can reinforce the corporate values and culture while upskilling workers.
Standard 7 also provides the opportunity to review how performance reviews and assessments are done. Expectations need to be made clear and any poor performance or misconduct needs to be addressed immediately.

Organisational governance

Standard 8’s purpose is to ensure organisations are well run, with a governing body accountable for the delivery of quality care. HR has a huge role to play with workforce governance. This means ensuring all policies, contracts and procedures are up to date and align with the new standards.
While governance systems are a foundation for most businesses, this Standard is focused on how these systems support the delivery of safe and quality aged care services. It’s expected the organisation has governance systems in place to assess, monitor and drive improvement in the quality and safety of the care and services they provide. This includes making sure patients have a quality experience. Organisations are expected to plan for, and manage internal and external emergencies and disasters.

Over to you

It’s important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” approach to compliance as organisations within aged care vary greatly in size, structure and available resources.
The onus lies with each individual organisation to be aware of each Quality Standard and to decide how they are going to comply.
If you need help with navigating the new standards and understand your risk profile, get in touch with Workplace Assured for an obligation free assessment on your workplace.

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