COVID-19 and Aged Care: Some Previous Articles That Providers May Find Helpful

Since the COVID-19 pandemic commenced, Aged Care Essentials has provided articles to assist aged care providers in continuing to do what they do best - caring for residents. Below you'll find some of our most read articles of the last year.

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How to Manage Aged Care Assessment Contacts Part 2: Making the Most of Your Human Resources

The first part of our “How to Manage Aged Care Assessment Contacts” provided an overview of Assessment Contacts and focused on practical tips to help you prepare for the entry meeting. If you haven’t read that article already, or think you might need a refresher on the process or terminology, Part 1 is available here.

This article focuses on how you can use your human resources to manage Assessment Contacts. We’ll outline the roles and responsibilities of the different teams that operate in an aged care home and provide some practical tips on how these teams can work independently and together to ace Assessment Contacts and ensure quality care for consumers.


Teams that Operate in an Aged Care Home

  • Governing Body – sets and monitors the strategic priorities for the home, keeping an eye on the big picture to make sure all systems and staff are working together to deliver the best quality care to consumers.
  • Management Team – runs the daily operations of the home, maintaining records, organising and overseeing frontline staff, and often performing frontline tasks themselves.
  • Frontline Staff – often referred to just as “staff” or “the workforce”, this team includes everyone else who works at the home, from nurses and carers to cleaners and cooks.


Governing Body: Your Role in Managing Assessment Contacts

The Governing Body have specific responsibilities under the Aged Care Quality Standards (Quality Standards). In particular, Standard 8 requires the Governing Body to engage with consumers, promote a safe and inclusive culture and put governance systems in place. The Governing Body is also where “the buck stops”, so they have an overarching responsibility to ensure that systems are in place to meet all the Quality Standards.

What is the role of the Governing Body when it comes to Assessment Contacts? We covered this in detail in our article How to Meet Your Aged Care Governance Obligations Part 1: Organisational Governance. For now it’s worth noting that:

  • Governing Body members are not required to participate in Assessment Contacts but, according to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC), Assessors would be happy to hear from them.
  • As part of the Assessment Contact, Assessors can attend Board meetings and management meetings to obtain information or discuss requirements or key issues.
  • Assessors may want to examine documents produced by the Governing Body, such as reports and strategic plans.
  • Assessors may also want to know what documents the Governing Body has looked at (or not looked at) and how they’ve responded. Has the Governing Body seen an adverse incident report recently? If so, what did they do about it? If not, why not?
  • Governing Bodies set the organisation-wide strategy for managing Assessment Contacts and provide support to staff who deal with Assessment Contacts on the ground.


Managing Assessment Contacts: Practical Tips for the Governing Body

  • Draft your strategy for dealing with Assessment Contacts – pro-actively plan your response, then measure how well it is executed and revise accordingly.
  • Act like an Assessor – review all the documents that an Assessor might review. Are they good enough? Is anything missing? What do they tell you about the quality of care and services being provided at your Home? Do they highlight any areas requiring improvement? Use these documents to your advantage! 
  • Check in with your Management Team – when an Assessor knocks on the door, it won’t be you that answers, it’ll be someone from your Management Team. Are they ready? Do they need anything from you? When was the last time you asked them?
  • Review your reviews – you’re probably conducting several audits and receiving all sorts of reports. Are they accurate? Are they implemented or do they just gather dust on a shelf? Once a problem is identified, is it translated into clear actions in your Plan for Continuous Improvement (PCI)?


Management Team: Your Role in Managing Assessment Contacts

While the Governing Body are keeping an eye on the big picture, the Management Team must do the detailed preparation for Assessment Contacts. This includes:

  • completing and updating Self-Assessments
  • updating the PCI
  • training frontline staff.

The Management Team also plays the key role in dealing with Assessment Contacts on the day, particularly in regard to the entry meeting. For tips on dealing with the entry meeting, see part 1 of this series.


Managing Assessment Contacts: Practical Tips for the Management Team

  • Be real about your Self-Assessments and PCI – it’s tempting to throw a gloss over your Self-Assessments and PCIs so that they present you in a better light. But ACQSC Assessors aren’t starry-eyed shoppers, and this strategy will quickly backfire under their scrutiny. Ironically, the Self-Assessment and PCI can be great “marketing materials” but only if you use them to demonstrate your honest and rigorous commitment to improvement.
  • Attach key evidence to your Self-Assessments – keep your Self-Assessments and any key evidence and documents together in the one place so you can easily find all the information you need when the Assessors come knocking.
  • Discuss the PCI with the Governing Body – draw on their expertise and let them know what you need.


Frontline Staff: Your Role in Managing Assessment Contacts

When Assessors arrive at a home, frontline staff may be involved in:

  • guiding Assessors around the home
  • informing consumers and their representatives of the Assessment Contact
  • introducing Assessors to consumers and facilitating Assessors’ interviews with consumers
  • providing documents and other evidence to Assessors
  • answering questions from Assessors.

Although it’s the frontline staff who will carry out many of these tasks, it’s the Management Team who are responsible for training and supervising staff, so these practical tips are pitched at the Management Team.


Managing Assessment Contacts: Practical Tips for the Management Team Regarding Frontline Staff

  • Explain why – training sessions and work instructions can easily get mired in the details of what staff have to do, but people are much more likely to complete a task if you take the time to also explain why it matters.
  • Share information and seek input – at meetings share Self-Assessments and other internal audits with frontline staff and ask them to identify gaps and strategies for improvement.
  • Target your training – the ACQSC guidance materials are a great resource for training staff, but not all at once. Training that crams everything into an incomprehensible 20 minutes is not much better than no training at all. So break up your training into short sessions that focus on one or two areas, and allow time for questions and discussions so that staff can consolidate what they’ve learned.
  • Draft and circulate a list of consumers who won’t or can’t engage with Assessors – make sure you and your staff know which consumers and their representatives don’t wish to engage with Assessors or are too unwell to be interviewed. Be upfront about this list and share it with the Assessors.


Conclusion: Organisational Cohesion is the Key to Managing Assessment Contacts

If there’s a single theme running through all the practical tips above, it’s this: managing Assessment Contacts is a team effort. And in an organisation as big and complex as an aged care home, effective teamwork can’t happen ad hoc. Platitudes about “working together” aren’t enough – to really prepare your people for an Assessment Contact you need regular meetings, document control, consistent training, easy-to-use feedback systems and a clear, pro-active strategy implemented at every level of the organisation.


About the Authors

Jennifer MaJennifer Ma

Jennifer is a content development assistant in our Sydney Office. She recently graduated from the Juris Doctor, from the University of Sydney and completed her final semester at the University of Vienna. After completing an undergraduate degree in the field of medical sciences at Sydney University, and commencing an honours in neuroscience, she decided that path wasn’t for her. She is now convinced about her passion for the law, and has experience assisting in a variety of legal matters from commercial law, including litigation, to family law.


Mark Bryan

Mark BryanMark is a Legal Research Consultant at CompliSpace. Mark has worked as a Legal Policy Officer for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the NSW Department of Justice. He also spent three years as lead editor for the private sessions narratives team at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Law, a Graduate Diploma in Writing from UTS and a Graduate Certificate in Film Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

ACE Editorial Team
ACE is published by CompliSpace and Critical Success Solutions. CompliSpace is an Australian company that specialises in helping organisations manage their legal and regulatory obligations. Critical Success Solutions is an Australian company that specialises in helping Aged Care and Disability Services manage their regulatory and legal requirements.