The 2021-22 Federal Budget, released by Treasurer Frydenberg on 11 May, announced additional funding of $17.7 billion for a comprehensive aged care reform package in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. This includes $6.5 billion to provide an additional 80,000 Home Care Packages to support older people with complex care needs to live independently in their own homes. Approved age care providers engage staff and contractors to work with older people with Home Care packages to plan, organise, and deliver these services.
This is a significant and welcome increase in the support for our older citizens. But these citizens are also some of our most vulnerable. We also know from the findings of the Royal Commission that there are significant risks that need to be managed in delivering support for vulnerable people in their homes. To achieve this, age care provider organisations need to have a supportive working environment which involves putting the client at the centre of their work.
With the findings of the Royal Commission, aged care provider organisations should also include ways to assure staff and contractors’ compliance with work practice standards. Other aspects to improve safety and performance include creating a positive workplace culture that supports reporting of inappropriate behaviours, creating a safe environment for staff to ask for help, and building a positive and supportive team environment for people working remotely.
Age care service providers need to support workers who have initiative, willingness to take the extra steps to provide appropriate care, emotional intelligence, and empathy to provide emotional support and connections with their clients, as well as working with people who may have challenging behaviours. There are many good people willing and capable of providing these services, however a supportive work environment is essential to their success.
How can we learn from this?
At the organisational level, how do you encourage and support staff to work remotely with initiative while ensuring a safe environment for staff and their clients? Here are some ideas:
- Apply a risk management approach to minimise harm to your clients and staff – identify control measures to avoid harm and monitor their effectiveness – change them if they are not working.
- Establish measures to assure that work is being done properly – how do you know staff working remotely are doing their work properly when they say they are? This will protect staff and clients.
- Create support networks for carers – supervisors making site visits with staff from time to time, buddy systems to have colleagues visit houses together on occasions, online team catch-ups and face-to-face catch-ups with other team members to share learnings.
- Talk with your staff – get their ideas on approaches to better service.
- Engage with clients and their families – listen to what they are saying and respond quickly.
- Value your staff and your clients – without them you do not have a business.
- Create a culture of no fear – even when people have done their best, mistakes will happen. Create an environment of learning from mistakes so people are prepared to admit to them rather than hide them. This culture does not condone negligence or inappropriate behaviours but supports good people trying to do good work.
At TMS we know that …all organisations are human ….including your managers, staff and your clients. If you find your organisation needs support in risk management, organisational culture, team building or developing effective leadership contact TMS Consulting on firstname.lastname@example.org.