Under the Spotlight – New Aged Care Quality Standards

Under the Spotlight – New Aged Care Quality Standards

Helping Providers Make the Transition

Overview of the New Draft Standards

We’ve all heard a lot lately about enhancing the consumer’s experience. The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (the Quality Agency) is now asking our residents some key questions about their experience of our service, and the new (draft) Aged Care Quality Standards are framed from the consumer’s perspective to reflect person-centred care. The primary elements contained within a person-centred care model have been defined by the Department in the figure below.

Image Source: Department of Health, Single Quality Framework: Draft Aged Care Quality Standards Consultation Paper, 2018

The new (draft) quality standards provide a single set of criteria which must be met by all Government funded aged care services in Australia.

The matrix approach taken in the development of these eight standards means that some elements have relevance across multiple standards. This requires an integrated approach to ensure that each element is consistently addressed in a manner that reflects person-centred care principles.

Over the next twelve months, providers are required to transition to the (draft) Aged Care Quality Standards. The Quality Agency has advised that during this period, they will be assessing the readiness of facilities to meet the new (draft) standards from July 2019.

It is therefore imperative that providers begin the transition to the new standards now, to ensure full compliance by 1 July 2019.

Person-Centred Care

Consumer experience is the “cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints”. Each touchpoint has potential to be good, bad or indifferent. When we think about the number of opportunities a resident has each day to experience a good, bad or indifferent touchpoint with us, it is vast.

A good consumer experience means that the consumer feels that every point of contact matches their expectations. So, this means that providing an exceptional experience for consumers starts with your team.

As you walk around your home, you see happy faces. You observe staff interacting with residents in a kind and considerate manner. You see residents engaged in activities.

Is this an enhanced consumer experience and person-centred care? How do you know if you offer true person-centred care? And, if not, how do you go about developing a consumer-centric framework that focuses on the consumer’s needs, values and preferences?

If we look at our service from the consumer’s perspective, we can consider:

  • Does the consumer have confidence in your service to meet their needs and preferences?
  • Do they feel safe, supports and valued, or do they feel we are focused on moving to the next task?
  • Do they feel respected and recognised for their uniqueness and life achievements, or are they just another person who provide services to?
  • Do our practices recognise the preferences of our consumers or are they designed to suit the preferences of staff?
  • Do we research and implement best practice, or do we provide what we feel is right, and what we have always done?

Whether we acknowledge it or not, aged care is relationship driven. Whilst facilities provide essential clinical and technical services, the quality of these services is subject to the resident’s perception and experience of the service. Furthermore, a good service experience is one that is co-created between the service provider (your staff), and the consumer. Therefore, a reciprocal and active partnership between staff and residents will support the co-creation of positive experiences for your residents.

Researchers have identified a relationship between the attitudes of staff, and the ability of staff to rate the consumer’s quality of life with their job satisfaction levels. Staff who have a person-centred approach prioritise the consumer’s quality of life and express greater job satisfaction[1]. This is a result of establishing real relationships based on compassion, trust and mutual respect between staff and consumers.

Creating a great experience requires us to ensure residents feel the service is personal and unique to their needs. To do this, we need to provide stimulation for their sensory, emotional, spiritual, cultural, rational and physical needs. We need to evoke an emotional response which makes them feel that they are valued, respected and safe in our care.

Every action we take and every word or phrase we use represents the relationship we have with the consumer. Our behaviours should reinforce the consumer’s expectations and their right to make decisions and lifestyle choices. As Dr Sheard, Founder of Dementia Matters, said:

Feeling you matter is at the core of being a person.  Knowing you matter is at the heart of being alive.  Seeing you matter is at the centre of carrying on in life

Some of the key elements that support an effective consumer experience program are:

  • Understanding our consumer’s expectations;
  • Creating an inclusive workplace culture;
  • A documented quality management system (including policies) that describe required behaviours and practices;
  • Identifying what needs to change when change is required;
  • A defined Model of Care that promote consumer choice;
  • A balanced Corporate Governance Framework; and
  • Continuous performance measurement and progress evaluation.

In assessing your performance against these key elements you may determine that you need to improve in some of these areas and there are resources available to support you through this process.

Ansell Strategic’s Experience

Over the past eighteen months, we have had an increasing number of requests from our clients to guide and support them to develop and establish consumer focused care models and staff practices. This is in response to both the imminent introduction of the new (draft) Aged Care Quality Standards and recognition that older people want to engage in care models that promote interdependence. These models are predicated on the establishment of meaningful relationships in which decision-making and self-determination are key elements.

Our team has more than thirty years’ experience in developing and implementing resident focused models that support the consumer to continue to live the life they choose. This does not mean that every care model must be the same. Each organisation has specific elements that differentiate them from others, and these elements can be many and varied. It may be their geographical position, cultural or faith-based factors or facility features.

Using our experience, we have leveraged these differences to develop care models and associated practices that provides each client with a unique care model and program to enhance the experience of their consumers. Whether you deliver community, residential or supported living services, we can tailor a program to suit your service, philosophy, Mission, Values and brand.

In doing this, our clients tell us that consumers value the individualised approach that their tailored care and staffing model provides. They are seeing more engaged consumers and generating a vibrant environment where consumers feel valued, have a sense of control and build new memories. Their staff feel empowered and get a real sense of purpose from working in a consumer focussed environment. This has created a positive culture where staff feel committed to the consumers and the organisation.

Whilst the prospect of potentially overhauling your existing policies and procedures within a year might seem daunting, it needn’t be.

This year we have developed a flexible transition support program designed to assist organisations transitioning to the new eight (draft) Quality Standards. Our team of specialists can offer face to face support across any aspect of the process to prepare for the 1 July 2019 milestone. 

Through our transition support program, Ansell Strategic will collaborate with you to develop policies, processes and governance frameworks ensuring that the needs, values and preferences of your consumers are underpinned by person-centred principles. The Governance Framework will also address the corporate obligations and legislative requirements for accountable and transparent Governance.

As your quality management system is revised and new practices identified and documented, we will deliver on site, face to face support to your staff to educate and train your team to deliver services that reflect this person-centred care approach.

To find out more about our New Quality Standards Transition Support Program, please follow this link

Enquiries can be directed to Judi Coombe, Manager Operations, at the following details

Telephone:   (08) 9468 7520
Email:             judi@ansellstrategic.com.au

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[1] Brownie, S, & Nancarrow, S. (2013), Clinical Interventions in Aging 8, 1–10.