The Single Aged Care Quality Framework, What every Board member needs to know

On 1 July 2019, major reforms to the Australian aged care sector will come into effect.

What’s Changing & Why

Designed with the customer at the centre of services, recent reforms have seen the introduction of a single Charter of Aged Care Rights for all aged care recipients. In addition, the Federal government will provide better access to information about the quality of aged care services being delivered by providers.

These changes are intended to raise the standard of care and support provided to older Australians and their families, by measuring the quality of services against a set of universal standards and expectations for all aged care services.

The single quality framework has been designed to:

  • Recognise the diversity of scale and varying breadth of services offered by various providers.
  • Strengthen the focus on quality outcomes for consumers by placing the customer at the centre of the standards of care.
  • Deliver tailored and relevant services to consumers.
  • Use a service assessment framework based on needs, outcomes and risk.
  • Reflect best practice regulation for the sector.

These reforms are likely to require significant workplace adjustments and additional reporting for all aged care providers and their Boards

Eight elements of the the single quality framework

What this means for Boards of organisations that deliver aged care services

The introduction of a Single Aged Care Quality Framework presents significant opportunities for Boards of care providers to review and potentially redesign services, to help meet new expectations and service quality standards. More importantly however, the introduction of these new standards is likely to highlight shortcomings and gaps in work practices, and put a spotlight onto the need for timely Board level visibility into service delivery against these new standards.

The new requirements will undoubtedly require upskilling or reskilling of team members. Boards will also need to adopt rigorous oversight and transparent reporting regimes, to ensure that key aspects of the framework are being delivered correctly, and collect compliance data.

Addressing these changes is likely to prove challenging in a short time frame, and impact already constrained budgets.

Shifting to a principles-based approach

Some Boards and aged care providers may simply approach the introduction of a single Aged Care Quality Framework as a compliance exercise.

The successful adoption of these new quality standards will require Boards, leaders and care givers to work together to plan how service delivery will be impacted, and identify where current models of care are no longer fit for purpose. These changes may potentially require a significant shift in organisational culture.

We believe that this set of reforms offers a golden opportunity for aged care providers to shift towards best-practice care delivery models and ways of working. This may also present strategic opportunities for the introduction of new services, and present new opportunities for market differentiation between providers.

To achieve more than simple compliance, organisations will need to identify and consider ways of implementing continuous improvement and reporting, while achieving robust oversight. This will ensure that the quality of care is being delivered with high levels of productivity and consistency, while staying aligned to customer needs and expectations.

Reporting and Service Design Requirements

Standard 8 (Organisational Governance) of the single Aged Care Quality Framework emphasises the importance of Board members knowing and understanding how care is being delivered across their facilities. This includes:

  • being accountable for the delivery of safe, quality care and services
  • involving consumers in the development, delivery and evaluation of care and services
  • actively promoting a culture of safe, inclusive, quality care, and being accountable for their delivery
  • implementing effective organisation wide governance systems relating to information management, continuous improvement, financial governance workforce management, regulatory compliance, and feedback and complaints
  • effective risk management systems and practices
  • where clinical care is provided, a clinical governance framework must be implemented that includes antimicrobial stewardship, minimal use of restraint, and open disclosure