The terms of reference for the Royal Commission in to Aged Care have been established, The Honourable Justice Joseph McGrath and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed Commissioners. Temporary recruitment is underway for support staff predominantly in Adelaide and a small number nationally.
Royal Commissions run on tight timeframes and an interim report is expected by 31 October 2019. Requests for information from providers may start as early as December 2018 and January 2019. It will pay to be prepared.
The scope of the Royal Commission is vast and the key focus is on the conduct of Approved Providers. There will be many stories that will be hard to hear and the media will take great interest in an organisation where issues are highlighted.
Based on previous Royal Commissions no doubt consumer interest will be high and thousands of submissions will be provided to the Royal Commission. Consumers are quite simply demanding more and the public will be closely watching as information comes to light.
Understanding the quality of care provided and constantly challenging whether this is adequate or outstanding will place providers in the best position to respond to scrutiny and also be able to “hand on heart” describe their services.
In order to best prepare organisations should undertake a health check in order to identify any areas of risk. This may include:
- Forming a Royal Commission Working Party to commence your preparation and lead the organisation throughout the process. This should include internal and external experts (legal and operational) in order to critically address any shortcomings. There is little to be gained in avoiding the big issues.
- Look closely at past performance and how issues were addressed
- Identify current weaknesses – and address them
- Seeking aged care specialist legal, operational and strategic advice to assist in your preparation.
- Undertaking an independent operational review to identify areas of excellence, compliance and areas of risk as it relates to the various standards and legislation.
- Review clinical care especially dementia and specialist care.
- Review past and current management of complaints, assaults, staffing levels and facility accreditation.
- Identify poor performing facilities and develop mitigation strategies
- Develop a strategy to mitigate any risks – do this early rather than wait until issues are uncovered.
- Ensure the organisation can access documents and respond to requests for evidence.
- Review Executive and Board reporting ensuring it identifies areas of risk and demonstrates outcomes of improvements; this may require a realignment of reporting tools, metrics, frequency and distribution.
- Ensure your documentation is up to date and in a format that is logical and easily accessible.
- Be ready with an appropriate communication strategy to ensure Board, Executive and Staff are well informed and understand their obligations and role throughout the process.
- Have a key spokesperson who is well prepared
And to beyond….While there has been much communication regarding preparing for the Royal Commission it is important to note that providers who understand their strengths and weaknesses and have in place robust customer focussed systems and processes will not only be well placed to respond to scrutiny but will thrive in what continues to be an increasingly competitive market.
Ideal is one of Australia’s most trusted aged care consultancies. Contact Louise Greene or Fiona Somerville on 1300 179 675 for a confidential discussion regarding assistance in preparing your organisation for the Royal Commission.