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Partnerships in Care Program: Facts and Resources for Residential Aged Care Providers

17/05/22
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The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has introduced the Partnerships in Care Program (PiC) to provide continued support to aged care residents during periods of outbreak. The program emphasises a “person-centred approach” to ongoing care routines between a resident and their family and/or close friends.

This article will outline the roles of the partners and the providers in the PiC program and the benefits it yields for residents. It will also provide resources for aged care providers to establish PiC program in their service.

 

What is a “Partner In Care”?

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) outlines pre-requisites of a partner as:

  • someone who the has a close, continuing relationship with the resident; and
  • regularly visits and provides care and companionship to the resident.

Joining the PiC program formalises the relationship of care between the partner and the resident, giving the partner an ongoing role in the resident’s care and support routine.

The partner will need to undergo an induction process to be officially recognised by the program. Partners need to be aware of hand hygiene, wearing a mask and strategies to reduce the spread of infection during visitation and in the event of an outbreak. A link to the partner resource guide can be found below. Examples of the types of support a partner may provide include:

  • Hygiene
  • Eating
  • Physical exercise
  • Companionship
  • Going out or engaging with the community

 

How Can a Provider Support the PiC Program?

The ACQSC recommends eight steps for residential care providers to successfully implement the PiC program:

  1. Identify partners in care. A resident’s partner in care must be chosen by the resident or their substitute decision maker.

  2. Arrange a discussion between the resident, staff and the partner.

  3. Get the partner to read the PiC Information Package.

  4. Make a checklist including:
    • relevant checks (e.g., work health and safety (WHS) check)
    • policies to access and read (e.g., privacy policy, WHS policy and emergency and evacuation procedures)
    • site tour to ensure the partner is aware of the emergency evacuation procedures, toilets, check-in process and facilities.
  5. Develop a PiC agreement including the following information:
    • proposed days and times of visitation – it is important that there is some flexibility in respect to these arrangements
    • potential impact on other residents, looking at strategies that consider the interests and rights of other residents, especially when visits occur by the partner in care e.g., where rooms maybe shared.
    • activities and care role of the partner
    • strategies for communication
    • when the PiC arrangement, including agreement, will next be reviewed.

  6. Outline necessary ongoing training that partners will need to complete, including any monitoring to ensure infection prevention and control compliance and the safety of everyone.

  7. Discuss with the partner and resident how their roles and relationship may change in the event of an outbreak at the facility. This may include changes to the level of support and care that the partner is able to contribute.

  8. Establish effective methods of communication with partners, including how best to communicate any changes in arrangements , particularly during outbreaks.

A notable advantage of implementing the PiC program is that in the event of an outbreak, there is a continuity of support for the resident. While there may be a brief period where visitation halts while the outbreak management plan is formulated, partners should return to their usual routines as soon as possible. Additionally, providers need to identify possible risks arising from the PiC program and must review these frequently through effective risk management processes. Providers need to consider that the risk mitigation strategies may need to be different in an outbreak and this should be reflected in the risk management plan.

Partners should also be given a clear avenue to raise concerns regarding risks or incidents. Above all, consistent communication between the resident’s support team and their Partner in Care is an essential aspect of having a successful PiC program. The communication channel needs to run both ways, with partners feeling comfortable expressing concerns to staff, and staff feeling confident that they can rely on the ongoing support that the partner has agreed to provide.

 

What are the Benefits of PiC?

Residents have the right, even in an outbreak, to have at least one visitor. Implementing the PiC program formalises this right and ensures that residents do not suffer the impact of isolation. The Department of Health’s Interim Guidance on Managing Public Health Restrictions on Residential Aged Care Facilities outlines these impacts of isolation:

  • reduced physical abilities
  • exacerbated mental illness and cognitive decline
  • reduced appetite and/or enjoyment of meals.

By implementing the PiC program, a service is promoting overall wellbeing of residents and their quality of life. This helps to prevent the impacts of isolation by:

  • keeping families together
  • supporting the daily routine of residents
  • improving overall health and well-being of residents

 

Resources

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has released four main sources of information for providers and partners regarding the PiC program. These are:

Also consider:

 

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About the Author

Annalise Wright

Annalise has completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and International Relations and History from the University of Western Australia and is currently studying a Master of Public Policy at Monash University. She is an Onboarding Coordinator at CompliSpace.

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