Meeting the challenges of The National Quality Indicator Program

Clinical care constitutes the foundation of aged care facilities and is central to their successful operation.

As our population ages, the delivery of high-quality care and support to older Australians becomes increasingly important. The National Quality Indicator Program (NQIP) functions as a comprehensive framework for evaluating the performance of aged care facilities, by measuring 11 quality indicators across the areas of clinical care, workforce turnover, and resident satisfaction levels with service and quality of life. It serves as an essential tool in monitoring the wellbeing and contentment of residents within aged care facilities.

Central to NQIP lies the measurement of resident experiences. Surveys and feedback mechanisms gauge social interaction, emotional welfare, and the degree of autonomy experienced by residents. This yields invaluable insights into their quality of life. Accurate, systematic data collection empowers facilities to pinpoint areas requiring improvement, and to customise their services to better align with the needs and preferences expressed through these evidence-based surveys.

Clinical care constitutes the foundation of aged care facilities and is central to their successful operation. NQIP acknowledges this by evaluating diverse clinical indicators, such as medication management, weight management, and skin care. It captures data related to falls, hospitalisation, restrictive practices, and functional decline. Consistent monitoring enables facilities to ensure residents receive appropriate medical attention and care, promoting their overall wellbeing and reducing the likelihood of preventable complications. By identifying potential clinical risks and implementing preventative measures, facilities can foster an environment that minimises risk and optimises resident health.

One of the biggest impacts of the NQIP lies in its role in driving a culture of continuous improvement. Accurate reporting and benchmarking enable facilities to track their progress over time and compare their performance against industry-wide performance. This creates healthy competition and fosters innovation, motivating facilities to continuously seek opportunities to elevate their services and maintain a leading edge in delivering quality aged care. It also gives organisations an industry-recognised method for evidencing that their strong clinical governance practices are effective in improving their trend of care.

While the NQIP is ushering in positive changes in the aged care setting, operational challenges persist. Many providers have absorbed the additional resource requirements of the program into their current staff structure, meaning that clinical resources are often diverted from care delivery to administrative data collection and reporting. Additionally, pursuant to section 26(a) of the Accountability Principles, approved providers must collect NQIP data exactly as described in the NQIP Manual Part A. This creates a need for comprehensive understanding and execution of the manual’s instructions in order for benchmarking results to provide meaningful data, as well as meet legislative requirements.

A new collaboration between Health Generation and QPS Benchmarking offers an efficacious alternative. Their newly launched QI Companion service supports providers to accurately collect NQIP data and understand its reporting requirements, whilst providing expert clinical resources on the ground to drive meaningful outcomes in the clinical care of residents. It brings together aged care experts and technology that supports fail-proof collection and direct online submission of NQIP data, together with benchmarking data across roughly 30% of the aged care sector. The QI Companion is a subscription service offering residential and home care providers a complete solution to reduce time and resources associated with NQIP requirements and reporting. It also provides value-added services in the form of an easy-to-understand performance report, and a coaching session by aged care quality experts. It is available now to providers across Australia.