Are you across the new clinical care standard?

Home care providers should be looking at the impact of the strengthened quality standards now, write Natalie Soulsby and Lahn Straney.

The strengthened aged care quality standards – due to commence with the new Aged Care Act – incorporate several changes and enhancements from the current standards.

They include expectation statements for older people, the intent of each standard, expected outcomes that providers will be assessed against, and actions that can be used to demonstrate how the provider will achieve the expected outcome. The number of standards will reduce from the current eight to the seven illustrated below.

Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards

In a series of articles, we will focus on Standard 5: Clinical Care and the related changes, implications and expectations. This standard describes the responsibilities of providers in both residential and home aged care to deliver safe and quality clinical care to older people. For home care providers the strengthened standards create implementation challenges.

Standard 5 has seven subsections:

  1. Clinical governance
  2. Preventing and controlling infections in clinical care
  3. Safe and quality use of medicines
  4. Comprehensive care
  5. Clinical safety
  6. Cognitive impairment
  7. Palliative and end of life care

These standards are designed to span the aged care sector to include both residential and home aged care. Consequently it will have a significant impact on the home care setting and places a heavy focus on clinical care.

Historically home care providers have not necessarily created a clinical care framework as robust as these strengthened standards will require. Nor have they had to routinely collect data on quality indicators.

The National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program has been an integral part of residential aged care since 2019. The program aims to:

  • enable approved providers of residential aged care to measure, monitor, compare, and enhance the quality of their services
  • assist older people in Australia in accessing information about the quality of aged care services when making decisions about their care
  • support the government in making policy decisions based on evidence of the quality of care delivered by providers.

While home care has not been involved in this program to date, the Department of Health and Aged Care is currently assessing the feasibility of implementing a suite of indicators for home care providers to report on.

Five preparation tips for the new standards

To ensure your workplace is ready, it is essential to first identify any gaps in your practices and then determine who can assist your organisation in addressing these shortcomings effectively.

Below are five steps you can take now to be ready for the implementation date:

  1. Conduct a gap analysis. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has published a useful document called Strengthened Quality Framework Analysis, which breaks down each section of the standards with outcome statements and an opportunity to conduct your own gap analysis.
  2. Ensure you have a clinical governance framework set up with associated materials in place in readiness for the strengthened standards. These associated materials can include robust policies and procedural documents that cover each of the sub sections of Standard 5.
  3. Ensure your quality care advisory body is functioning optimally as their role is to support and inform the governing body, help with problem solving and suggest improvements. More information available here.
  4. Ensure your consumer advisory body is functioning optimally as their role is to provide valuable feedback to the governing body and give older people in your care a voice. More information available here.
  5. Consider what quality indicators – QIs – may be introduced next year and future proof or service by introducing processes that provide the best possible care. Not all the current QIs are translatable into the home care setting and it may be that alternative, more appropriate indictors will be chosen. Ensure your organisation is poised to collect, measure and monitor the QIs as well as how the information can be analysed and then used to inform change and improvements.

In the next article we will delve into Standard 5.2: Preventing and controlling infections in clinical care.

Natalie Soulsby is head of clinical excellence at Embedded Health Solutions and Lahn Straney is an epidemiologist and director at MOA

Follow Community Care Review on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and sign up to our newsletter.

Tags: clinical care, Lahn Straney, Natalie Soulsby, strengthened quality standards,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *