Providers encouraged to understand diverse needs of their residents

The aged care sector will need resources, passion and commitment for the new diversity framework to work well, the CEO of a culturally-specific aged care organisation tells Australian Ageing Agenda.

The aged care sector will need resources, passion and commitment for the new diversity framework to work well, the CEO of a culturally-specific aged care organisation tells Australian Ageing Agenda.

The framework sets the basic criteria for providers to engage consumers in a culturally safe and supportive environment, which are good essential features, said Ada Cheng, CEO of Australian Nursing Home Foundation.

“However, this is just a framework. It’s up to the aged care provider whether they implement it or not,” Ms Cheng told AAA.

“For the diversity framework to work well, resources, passion and commitment are essential.”

Without it, the framework “is just a big banner,” she said.

ANHF is a Sydney-based aged care provider that specialises in services for seniors from Chinese and south-east Asian backgrounds.

Ada Cheng

Ms Cheng, who has more that 30 years of experience in the sector, is speaking at next month’s ACSA National Summit about how providers can meet the aged care needs of diverse of seniors in the context of the new diversity framework and the forthcoming action plans targeting specific diverse communities.

The Aged Care Diversity Framework, which was launched last December, aims to embed diversity in the design and delivery of aged care, address perceived or actual barriers to older people accessing safe, equitable and quality aged care and enable consumers and carers to be part of the process.

The three separate action plans target particular barriers and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

They were originally slated for mid-year release, however they are still not ready (see below).

Ms Cheng said she hadn’t seen the action plans being developed, but that she was most interested in understanding how the plans could be translated into actions.

She also raised concerns that the diversity framework was too general and said it was important to remember there was a lot of diversity within diversity.

“The challenge is when they put everything together under the one framework. People under multiple subsets overlap with different needs from the framework,” Ms Cheng said.

“I think the diversity framework will work much better when the system is mature and there is good enough support for those different people from different groups under the framework.”

On better meeting the needs of seniors, Ms Cheng said it was important for aged care organisations to cater to the diverse needs of all residents in their facilities.

Providers should treat “everyone as an individual, rather than making residents fit into their aged care model.”

Having cultural competency in the organisation can improve the experiences of residents with English as a second language and their families, she said.

“Provider’s need to understand the cultural environment of these people and groups,” Ms Cheng said.

She recommends cultural competency be integrated across all aspects of the organisation, including planning, implementation, assessments, evaluations, complaints and staff training.

“We need to make staff aware of the cultural aspects of care that are so important to these residents,” she said.

Update on action plans

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt will launch the action plans “as soon as possible,” he said.

“Further collaborative work is underway between the Department of Health, Aged Care Sector Committee and diversity sub-groups to ensure the action plans are both aspirational and practical documents, which providers can engage with in a way that fosters change,” Mr Wyatt told AAA.

The ACSA National Summit will take place at the International Convention Centre, Sydney on 3 – 5 September.

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Tags: acsa-national-summit, Ada Cheng, Aged Care Diversity Framework action plans, aged-care-diversity-framework, Australian Nursing Home Foundation,

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