Code of Conduct for Aged Care comes into effect today!

We have previously written about the introduction of a Code of Conduct for Aged Care. The Code has now been finalised and applies to approved providers, aged care workers, and governing persons from today, the 1st December 2022.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has published a Code of Conduct for Aged – Guidance for approved providers document, and we encourage providers to review this guidance, where they can find useful examples of what the Code looks like in practice.  Our self-assessment modules for the Code, available on SPP are a great resource for organisations looking to ensure their readiness for the Code.

Also coming into force today are a number of responsibilities relating to provider governance, including:

  • Notifying the Quality and Safety Commission of material changes to provider suitability
  • Consideration of suitability of all key personnel
  • Notifying the Quality and Safety Commission of changes regarding key personnel
  • Ensuring appropriate staff qualifications, skills and experience
  • Reporting on providers’ operations and statement of compliance

We have developed a package of resources to assist aged care providers with these new governance requirements, including the following:

  • Self-assessment module for Provider Governance responsibilities
  • Policy: Provider Governance (Aged Care)
  • Policy: Key Personnel
  • Template: Key Personnel Suitability Checklist
  • Template: Key Personnel Declaration and Undertaking
  • Template: Governing Body Requirements Checklist

You can find these new resources in the Reading Room of your SPP or ACCPA Quality Portal account, by searching for “aged care governance”.

Looking for assistance managing your aged care obligations?

Is your aged care board equipped to govern successfully?

Quality services arise from good leadership. As an aged care provider, your governing body plays an integral role in promoting a culture of safe, inclusive and quality care and services, and overseeing your organisation’s operations.

Responsibilities

Under the Aged Care Quality Standards, the governing body is accountable for the delivery of safe and high quality care and services to all consumers in the organisation’s care. 

Each member of the governing body must be satisfied that the organisation has in place the culture, strategies, policies, practices and behaviours to ensure delivery of care and services to that standard.

Challenges for non-executives

But boards are usually (and should be!) composed of non-executive directors, who very often will be fulfilling their role on a voluntary basis.  On any one board there may be directors with varying levels of knowledge about the specific requirements of the Aged Care Quality Standards.  Directors may be located remotely from the provider and, especially over the last 18 months with COVID, opportunities for face to face on site meetings has been extremely limited.

And yet, individually, each director shares the responsibility to oversee that their provider delivers safe, quality and compliant care.

Problems highlighted by the Royal Commission

The importance of strong governance in aged care was a central finding of the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. In their Final Report, Commissioners Pagone and Briggs were blunt in their assessment of the failures of some aged care providers’ governing bodies:

“Provider governance and management directly impact on all aspects of aged care. Deficiencies in the governance and leadership of some approved providers have resulted in shortfalls in the quality and safety of care. Some boards and governing bodies lack professional knowledge about the delivery of aged care, including clinical expertise. There is a risk that they may focus on financial risks and performance, without a commensurate focus on the quality and safety of care.”

The Commissioners spoke unambiguously of the duty held by governing body members:

“Accountability begins and ends with the leaders of an organisation, the board and senior management. If boards and governing bodies do not have the knowledge or skills to understand the care that is being delivered, they are unable to ensure that this care is high quality and safe. The values and behaviour of people in these senior positions have a significant impact on workplace culture and the quality of care that is delivered.”

It is clear that scrutiny of aged care provider governing bodies will be a focus of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission – now and into the future. Already, government has begun legislating for greater accountability and responsibilities for governing bodies, with the recent Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2021 signalling strengthened governance arrangements from March 2022.

Now, more than ever, providers must ensure that their governing bodies are highly informed, involved, and are advocates for quality and safety in the aged care sector.

Our solution: the Board Governance Toolkit

In response to the findings of the Royal Commission, and requests from our customers, we have developed the Board Governance Toolkit.

Our new Board Governance Toolkit addresses all of the requirements in the Aged Care Quality Standards for oversight of the organisation’s provision of quality and safe care and services, and oversight of management and staff.

For each requirement, we ask a series of questions that walk directors through the necessary avenues of enquiry, so that they understand their obligations and are guided to ask the right questions and receive the correct and relevant information from management. Directors also have the opportunity to comment on how their organisation is meeting that requirement, or how it could improve.

Our Toolkit helps each individual board member to:

  • Understand their ACQS responsibilities
  • Record their assessment of organisational performance
  • Engage effectively with senior management
  • Identify gaps and areas for improvement
  • Regularly review progress and update priorities

Our Toolkit facilitates regular review and continuous quality improvement.  As part of regular quality improvement processes, governing body members should revisit the Toolkit and update their comments, for review and discussion at board level on a regular basis.

Click here to view our Board Governance Toolkit flyer.

Seeking guidance for your board?

Access the Board Governance Toolkit on SPP.