Balancing freedom and risk in the new world of wellness in aged care

In a reablement and restorative care environment, it is important staff understand the potential risks for individuals and the organisation and know in advance how to manage a situation if it arises.

With the move towards reablement and restorative care, aged care staff must understand the potential risks for clients and know how to manage a situation if it arises.

That’s the key message UnitingCare lifeAssist’s Wina Kung will deliver at next month’s Active Ageing Conference when she discusses how to manage the increased risk that comes with empowering clients to take more control of their lives.

Ms Kung said organisational policies and procedures were in place to equip staff on risk management, but these had to be well communicated because if staff did not understand or practice them, clients and the organisation could be at risk.

Wina Kung
Wina Kung

“It is really important staff understands what is required from them, that they identify the risk by themselves then they report back to the organisation,” Ms Kung told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“Then we have a good system in place; they know what to do when a situation comes up.”

LifeAssist’s enabling risk management approach covered the perspective of both clients and the organisation. It aimed to support people with capacity to safely manage their own lives and maximise their funding to provide better care for themselves, Ms Kung said.

“The key is we are assuming people have the capacity to do that but we also create a safety net to make sure if there is a crisis situation our case manager will be there to help.”

Balancing freedom and risk

From a client’s perspective, the approach meant more choice, control, flexibility and freedom in how they used their funding to organise their care, Ms Kung said.

“We are empowering the client in terms of exercising their freedom, but at the same time it involves some risk.”

UnitingCare lifeAssist used a three-tiered model ranging from foundation with full case management to premium where the client self managed with the case manager in the background unless needed.

Ms Kung said the enabling risk management approach ensured the people making the choice – the client or their carer – had the capacity and skills to make that choice. But there was a safety net for when a client’s situation changed or a crisis happened, she added.

The organisation’s risk management policy featured a register of potential external and internal risk from corporate level down to operation level, while a clinical risk policy identified individual clients at high risk, such as those with drug and alcohol problems or difficult behaviours, Ms Kung said.

“We have a monitoring system to make sure we have a policy and procedure to alert staff and other professionals if something happened to those clients,” she said.

That involved identifying a range of potential situations and subsequent responses for the individual clients, she said.

“We need to make sure the staff and clients are safe… It is very important that the staff understand about how to manage all those risks to individual clients and then at the organisation level.”

Ms Kung’s presentation will also cover the organisation’s reablement and restorative approaches.

The Active Ageing Conference 2016 takes place on 4 August at Swissotel, Sydney

Tags: active ageing 2016, news-ccrn-4, operational, reablement, restorative care, risk-management, unitingcare-lifeassist, wina-kung,

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