Your palms are sweaty, knees are weak, arms are heavy…feelings of trepidation and uncertainty take over. No, you aren’t unwell (or in the middle of an American rap song) – it’s the all too familiar feeling of an impending review against the Aged Care Quality Standards!
Aged Care providers across the country whether newly approved or well-established within the sector, know the above feelings all too well. Even the most confident and prepared provider still feels a sense of nervousness given the weight and consequence of the outcomes from contact with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission).
However, repeatedly (and understandably) providers fix their focus on COMPLIANCE. They ensure their T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted, and every piece of evidence/documentation is ready to demonstrate exactly how they comply with each of the aged care quality standards. And while compliance remains the key focus, providers need to remember however, it is not enough to simply just comply with your requirements, it is equally as important to expectations of the consumers receiving your care and services.
For many this seems like a daunting task, how do you ensure you are complaint with all of your provider requirements while also going above-and-beyond for consumers? The answer is simple, it is likely you are already doing it.
Contrary to what the media reports, most aged care providers across Australia are providing exceptional care and really thinking outside the box when it comes to making sure consumers are living their best lives thanks to their support.
There are providers who implement day programs that allow and engage consumers to educate staff about cultures, customs, and anything in between. There are providers who manage dignity of risk and choice in ways that not only support a consumer to pursue activities that bring them joy, but also alleviates stress and confusion at the same time. There are also providers who value their team so highly that they implement innovative flexible working arrangements that create efficiencies internally and increase consumer satisfaction in return.
Where providers often fail themselves however is in the detail – how is this all recorded? As we all know, if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen. This rings true for all of the positive work your organisation is doing also as this demonstrates how you are exceeding expectations and going beyond compliance.
Is your Feedback and Complaints Register full to the brim with detailed complaints management activities and continuous improvement actions based on these? Providers need to think about the positive feedback and compliments as well. How are these being not only documented but shared and celebrated across your organisation and the sector?
How heavily are you guided by consumers and their representatives when it comes to implementing new programs or changes across the organisation? Do you involve consumers within your board or executive leadership meetings, recruitment processes or other business/operational processes and decision making? If consumer engagement is at the forefront of your strategic planning, how is this recorded and how often does this occur?
When recruiting for new staff, what strategies do you use to identify and ensure new recruits are kind, caring and respectful (thinking beyond just their qualifications)? How are these strategies documented as opposed to simply ticking boxes within a recruitment form and going by your ‘gut feeling’?
Are you integrating technology and online platforms or applications to ensure consumers remain connected with their community, loved one’s and your services? How is your organisation being innovative utilising technology to prevent social isolation and increase/improve independence?
Don’t get me wrong, all of the above leads to meeting your compliance requirements against the aged care quality standards however, if you have embedded an organisational culture of exceeding consumer expectations then you no longer have to work so hard at it.
By setting examples from your Governance level and ensuring your workplace culture is built on the foundations that striving beyond compliance is key; your team don’t focus on going above and beyond as a one-off event, it is simply ‘the way things are done here’. You will find your team constantly search for ways they can enhance the way a consumer receives your care and services and in turn, you increase the value of your service and are able to identify new opportunities with every interaction.
Consider, as adults we are interacting with the world and receiving services or products of some kind every day. Of course, we are satisfied when we receive what we asked for, however when someone goes beyond what we expected it guarantees to leave a much bigger impact. The same applies as we age. As we age and change from service provider to service receiver, we would want the same too. We want our provider to ensure they are compliant and meeting their required responsibilities BUT, also to value us so highly that they strive to exceed our expectations any way they can. In return, as a consumer we are more likely to do the same. Afterall, a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.
Need help getting ready for your next aged care quality review? Contact us to find out how we can help.