Shared from the 6/14/2023 Financial Review eEdition

Aiding compliance in aged care services


The aged care industry in Australia is undergoing a significant wave of reforms, bringing unprecedented changes to the sector.

With workforce challenges, evolving business models and ongoing regulatory changes, it is crucial for aged care providers to embrace innovative technology that prioritises the needs of consumers.

As a result of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Aged Care Act has undergone extensive reform, encompassing funding, governance, mandatory reporting and clinical practice.

Starting from July 2023, residential aged care homes will be required to have a registered nurse available round the clock, and mandatory personal care and clinical care minutes will be enforced. Care minutes are the direct care time delivered to residents by registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers including nursing assistants.

The reporting carried out by aged care providers enables the Department of Health and Aged Care, along with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, to assess compliance with regulatory requirements.

Aged care providers which don’t meet required standards can be sanctioned by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, meaning they can not take in any more care recipients until the sanction has been lifted.

The extension of prudential reporting, coupled with further reforms to quality standards, increased auditing and penalties, all aim to enhance accountability and transparency in the sector – with the target of ultimately improving the delivery of care. However, it raises concerns about the associated costs.

In recent years, non-compliance has most commonly been observed in the areas of delivering safe and effective personal and clinical care (Standard 3), establishing effective governance systems (Standard 8), and managing high-impact or high-prevalence risks effectively.

Industry experts predict that the number of non-compliant services will continue to rise, says Rachel Boden, chief executive of aged care consulting specialist CareLynx.

Providers face failures in many areas, particularly clinical governance. Regulatory changes regarding the composition of providers’ boards now include requirements for independent non-executive clinical advisory roles, aiming to prioritise care over financial considerations.

Many home-care providers are not fully aware of their full obligations, and the upcoming quality improvement (QI) program will pose significant challenges if they are unprepared for the increased compliance requirements, Boden says.

‘‘Clinical governance, extending right up to the board level, has changed dramatically in the last few years,’’ she says.

‘‘As part of that, residential and home aged care providers all have a 24/7 obligation to ensure appropriate clinical care is delivered.’’

‘‘Many home care providers don’t yet understand that, and the QI program is really going to hit them hard next year if they’re not prepared for the significant extra compliance requirements.’’

CareLynx was established by experienced nurses who recognised the need to assist aged care providers in meeting the evolving quality standards in residential and home care.

CareLynx provides a range of services to guide providers through the ever-changing industry, including Nurse Advisory, Consulting, 24/7 Nurse on Call, Full Service Monitoring, Clinical Governance, and its software-as-a-service CareLynx Platform.

The CareLynx platform facilitates the involvement of consumers, their families and carers in personalised care planning – encompassing clinical governance standards and the QI program. CareLynx also provides Full Service Clinical Monitoring, combining consulting services with the software platform.

Aged care providers require comprehensive solutions which establish robust, reliable and auditable clinical systems. Clinical pathways should actively guide staff in real-time best-practice care delivery. while monitoring resident wellbeing and ensuring the implementation of care directives.

This encourages staff at all levels to proactively take responsibility for individual resident wellbeing, says Sue Boisen, co-founder and expert clinical adviser at CareLynx.

‘‘This approach also alleviates the burden of data capture, enabling registered nurses to dedicate more time to direct care, benefiting both aged care providers and the individuals receiving care,’’ Boisen says. ‘‘A program like CareLynx follows a structured format to deliver information that supports the clinical management of each person. The data is automatically collated into dashboards for management and boards, with a specific focus on clinical and quality governance.’’

Reforms following the royal commission also place extra obligations on an aged care provider’s board, to ensure the board does not just focus on the financial side of the business, Boden says.

‘‘In the past, boards were more focused on the financial running of their aged care businesses than on their obligations to the residents under the standards,’’ she says. ‘‘This change has driven CareLynx to provide independent non-executive board members to aged-care boards.

‘‘The audit process has shifted towards enhancing the consumer experience and improving care outcomes for older Australians, moving beyond mere compliance requirements. As the Australian population ages, this should be our level of expectation from the industry.’’

See this article in the e-Edition Here