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?

The draft Aged Care Code of Conduct is here

As part of a recent suite of reforms set out in the Royal Commission Response Act, the Department of Health and Aged Care is introducing a Code of Conduct for Aged Care. An exposure draft of the Code has been released, and the Code will come into effect from 1 December 2022.

So, what does this new Code mean for providers and their workers? And how can you prepare for this new requirement?

An overview of the Code

We’ve been keeping close to developments relating to the Code, and aim to keep our customers up to speed as the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission publishes new information. Here are some key pointers:

  • The Code of Conduct has been introduced to “improve the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life for people receiving aged care and to boost trust in services”.
  • It sets out standards of behaviours for approved providers, governing persons, workers, volunteers and contractors to ensure services are delivered in a safe, competent and consistent manner.
  • The policy intent for the Code is not to create new obligations for providers; but rather to focus on the protection of older Australians by setting out the suitable standards of care, and ensuring that there are consequences for poor conduct.
  • The Code will take effect from 1 December, and will apply to residential aged care, home care, and flexible care providers. The Code will not apply to Community Home Support Programme (CHSP) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) providers.
  • The Commission will be able to issue banning orders to aged care workers and governing persons who breach the Code – however, this measure will only be taken in the most serious cases of poor conduct.
  • The Code is in draft form but should be finalised in the near future.

Your responsibilities and how you can prepare

The responsibilities outlined in the Code are consistent with existing legislation, the Aged Care Quality Standards and the Charter of Aged Care Rights, as well as community expectations and consumer expectations. As an example, the Aged Care Quality Standards include concepts such as affording consumers dignity and respect, which feature in the Code.

The Code is also consistent with the NDIS Code of Conduct, which will be familiar to some providers who work across both the aged care and disability sectors. Both Codes have a strong focus on the individual’s right to receive quality care and share many of the same obligations.

Compared with the NDIS Code, the Aged Care Code does have additional requirements for treating people with dignity and respect, valuing diversity, and providing care, supports and services free from violence, discrimination, exploitation, neglect, abuse and sexual misconduct. These additional requirements address key concerns raised by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Whilst the Codes are very similar, they will be regulated separately.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has emphasised that the Code of Conduct does not create new obligations, in the sense that providers and workers delivering care in accordance with existing regulations should already be meeting the Code. However, there is one new responsibility providers should be mindful of in relation to the Code, and that is: providers must take reasonable steps to make sure workers and governing persons comply with the Code.

The Commission has made clear that providers need to ensure their aged care workforce (including employees, volunteers and contractors) understands and acts consistently with the Code. Some steps you can take to ensure your workforce is ready include:

  • ensuring that workers have read and understand the Code and relevant guidance;
  • ensuring workers undergo regular training and professional development that helps them comply with and uphold the Code;
  • ensuring workers understand the consequences of not complying with the Code; and
  • supporting workers to resolve concerns identified in relation to their compliance with the Code.

Next steps

Make sure you have familiarised yourself with the draft Code and have a plan to prepare your workforce.

For more detail on the Code, please access the draft Code of Conduct for Aged Care: Guidance for providers.

Looking for assistance managing your aged care obligations?

NDIS Code of Conduct guidance for providers

The NDIS Code of Conduct, which has been in place since 2018, ensures that workers understand how they must act, and their responsibilities to provide high quality, safe services and supports to people with disability.

There are certain requirements placed on providers regarding worker compliance with the Code of Conduct.  Providers must implement systems to ensure that their staff are conducting themselves in line with the expectations of the NDIS Rules.

This blog post looks at the worker’s responsibilities from the provider’s perspective and examines how the provider can ensure that the conduct of their workers conforms with the values outlined by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. This is not intended to be an exhaustive resource; for further reading see the NDIS Commission’s Code of Conduct guidance for providers and workers.

Service delivery

Under the NDIS Code of Conduct, it is the responsibility of providers to ensure that workers delivering supports have the appropriate training, qualifications and competence to deliver supports.

In practice, these requirements mean:

  • Supporting workers to understand and implement the core values of the NDIS, including person centred support delivery;
  • Refining recruitment and selection processes to ensure that workers with appropriate skills and values are selected by the organisation to deliver services;
  • Providing workers with relevant training;
  • Providing workers with supervision to ensure that services are being delivered safely, with care and skill; and
  • Discussing with workers to ensure that they are competent and feel comfortable delivering the required supports and services.

In addition, as part of the recruitment and induction process, providers must ensure that:

Incidents & complaints

Registered NDIS Providers must have incident and complaints management systems in place.  It is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that staff are familiar with these systems.  This includes training to ensure that workers are able to identify, respond to, and report incidents and complaints to their supervisor and/or authorities where relevant.

Workers must understand that, in relation to incidents, their first priority is always the safety of people with disability.  Immediately following an incident, workers must ensure, to the best of their ability, that the person with disability is safe, following which they should then follow the provider’s processes for responding to and reporting incidents.

Workers should be familiar with the organisation’s complaints management systems, as well as how to make complaints directly to the NDIS Commission.  Workers are expected to support people to make complaints to the provider or the Commission, and so should be familiar with the appropriate processes for doing so.  Workers must not, under any circumstances, threaten or take adverse action against someone who proposes to make a complaint.

Staff responsibilities

Under the NDIS Code of Conduct, workers are expected to speak up to authority and call out any conduct that is not compliant with the Commission’s rules.  Staff are expected to inform senior staff if they are unable, or do not feel comfortable, to carry out particular tasks in connection with service provision (see p14, NDIS Code of Conduct – Guidance for Workers).

Staff should be aware that they are required under the Code of Conduct to declare any conflicts of interest related to their beliefs and values that may impact on the delivery of services or supports provision (see p19, NDIS Code of Conduct – Guidance for Workers).

All workers should understand that they are able to contact the Commission if they have any concerns regarding the conduct of their employer or others.  In some circumstances, which include the reporting of serious incidents, the Commission has legislative powers to protect those who raise concerns with the Commission.

Fostering a culture that encourages feedback and complaints

It is the responsibility of providers to ensure that they welcome and encourage feedback, and that their staff feel comfortable reporting any misconduct that they witness.  From the provider’s perspective, this involves encouraging and welcoming feedback and complaints.

The organisation should ensure that staff, as well as clients and advocates, will not face any adverse action for raising concerns regarding the conduct of the provider or its staff.  The workforce should be made aware that the provider will not undertake any action in retaliation for a worker raising, in good faith, their concerns about conduct.

How BNG can help

We have a number of resources and self-assessments to help providers ensure that they, and their workers, comply with the Code of Conduct.

  • SPP’s NDIS Code of Conduct self-assessment will walk providers through their obligations, as well as provide resources, policy templates and guidance
  • Worker recruitment, screening and training policy templates and guidance
  • Incident and complaints management system policies and guidance
  • Conflict of interest policy templates and guidance

NDIS Code of Conduct

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