Aged care organisations are aiming to better engage consumers, respond to the royal commission’s findings as they are published and reflect on their own organisation from now until the final report is released, provider chief executives tell Australian Ageing Agenda.

When the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety delivered its three-volume interim report on 31 October, the commissioners flagged the need to urgently reduce the use of chemical restraint, increase Home Care Packages and stop the flow of younger people going into residential aged care.

Aged care CEOs tells AAA they have taken away several key points from the interim report since its release.

Presbyterian Aged Care CEO Paul Sadler said the language used in the interim report stood out to him.

“The strength of the language was striking… They have set the scene to recommend fundamental reform, not just more tinkering,” Mr Sadler told AAA at the Future of Aged Care: Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission conference last week.

Paul Sadler

“We’ve taken the opportunity at PAC to review all of the key messages from the interim report and identify what we are already doing, what we’ve already got in our current business plan, and what might be new and needs to be added to the work plan,” Mr Sadler said.

“PAC is particularly working on areas such as consumer engagement mechanisms and embedding open disclosure practice,” he said.

Mr Sadler said the aged care sector needs to improve its level of consumer engagement from within organisations to build trust.

“We should work on consumer engagement within our own organisations. Also, we should work on building local community solutions with older people and other organisations, particularly in the health sector. This is the best place for us to improve trust in aged care services,” he said.

“At a system level, it is important to work on transparency initiatives, including staffing ratios based on the University of Wollongong recommendations to the royal commission and determining an approach to differentiated performance ratings against the Aged Care Quality Standards.”

Encouraging responses

Warrigal CEO Mark Sewell said the interim report reflected the public’s views of aged care.

“The sector is aware about some of that stuff but because the sector has a balanced view about the good things we’re doing, we don’t get shocked enough about the poor instances of care. The royal commission is very focused on the poor care and has highlighted that to make a point.” Mr Sewell told AAA at the conference.

Mark Sewell

“It’s… really great, now with the royal commission’s backing, we can say the sector is broken and in need of massive repair top to bottom,” he said.

Warrigal is working to strengthen its governance, leadership and workforce, Mr Sewell said.

“The best way to do well is to survive, to thrive and to get your act in order,” he said.

“Good governance, good executive leadership, good frontline management and good staff and recruitment are… fundamentals, and we are working hard to strengthen those things and get them solid,” Mr Sewell said.

Warrigal has responded to every theme, issue and position paper the royal commission has released, he said.

“We want to be responsive all the way through, we don’t want to wait until the end,” Mr Sewell said.

Time for reflection

Glenview Community Services CEO Lucy O’Flaherty said the interim report has created an opportunity for real change and sparked the need for reflection.

“The opportunity to reflect on not only what we do but how we do it is always… a highlight of these things,” Ms O’Flaherty told AAA at the conference.

Lucy O’Flaherty

“There’s nothing in that report that has led us to change course in any way, but I say that in the context of the things that were raised have always been concerns for us,” she said.

However, it has improved communication with general practitioners, pharmacists and families about medication, she said.

“It’s probably enhanced the conversations that we are having with our GPs and our pharmacists… around checking do they understand their responsibilities as much as we understand our responsibilities. And can we make communication a lot clearer at those difficult points where families are engaged in conversations around medication, but not just talking about chemical restraint, but any medication changes,” Ms O’Flaherty said.

She said it is important for all aged care providers to keep reflecting on their services throughout the royal commission and ensure they have the basics right.

“It is widely known those people not doing the right things need to take a look at themselves. It’s time to reflect and if you can’t do it well, think about whether you should be doing it [at all],” she said.

The Future of Aged Care: Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission conference took place in Melbourne on 20 – 21 November.

To stay up to date on the latest about the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety go to our special coverage. 

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