The budget is out, the end of financial year is upon us and it’s time for residential aged care providers to plan expenditure for next year. Today we look at five reasons why you should think about investing in data management. But first:
What is a data management system?
By “data management system” we mean the policies, procedures and mechanisms you use to collect, store and use data. A good data management system will include training for staff, privacy protections, and mechanisms for consolidating data, avoiding inconsistencies and generating useful reports. A data management system is often part of a broader enterprise risk management system.
So, when budgets are already stretched, why should you think about investing in such a system?
Compliance is too complicated to handle ad hoc
Residential aged care is already one of the most highly-regulated industries in Australia, and it’s not getting any simpler. When announcing the aged care budget, the Treasurer declared: “It’s not just more money, it’s more reform.”
On top of the hundred-plus requirements in the Aged Care Quality Standards, providers are facing new NDIS worker screening requirements, additional Mandatory Quality Indicators and the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) Priority 2 reporting later this year. The latest budget suggests that in the next few years aged care providers will also be seeing minimum staff time standards and additional reporting requirements.
It’s simply too much to keep track of and be able to demonstrate compliance with paper records, excel spreadsheets, emails and staff meetings.
You will be assessed on your data management system
As part of the budget announcements, the Government promised to give the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) about $25 million to undertake an additional 1,500 safety audits in residential care facilities in 2021-22, a dramatic increase on the 600 audits scheduled during that time period.
The assessors will come knocking on your door and they will want to see evidence of a systems and processes for collecting and managing data. Theis will include accurate, up-to-date reports that match the existing data in their own systems. Which leads to the next point:
Inconsistencies can lead to findings of ‘not met’
What happens if a SIRS incident also falls within one of the Mandatory Quality Indicators (QIs)? Can you easily transfer the data from one place to the other or do you have to record it all twice? And is the data consistent?
The ACQSC will cross-reference different sources of data that it gets from you. Are there some incidents that you reported in your clinical management system (or the consumer’s progress notes), under the QIs but not under the SIRS? The ACQSC will want to know why – and may give you a finding of not-met based on the inconsistency. Without a decent data management system, inconsistency is a risk.
Data helps you plan and improve
Your Board/governing body has a responsibility to proactively plan for continuous improvement in your facility. They need to know about the ongoing problems, the gaps in skills and staffing, the available resources, the pressure points that assessors are likely to press. None of that is possible without accurate, up-to-date data that has been translated into easy-to-read reports by a good data management system.
It’s cheaper and easier in the long run
In all industries time is money. In residential aged care, administration time is a lot of money. And stress. Precious resources spent chasing, interpreting and consolidating poorly-managed data could be much better spent caring for residents.
Conclusion: the benefits of data management systems to you and your consumers
Data management systems improve data transparency, giving Boards and Management teams the capacity to provide the right information to consumers and their representatives within appropriate time frames. This includes empowering the leadership team to implement effective open disclosure processes and encourage feedback about the organisation and the care and services being provided.
Strong data management systems empower you to review data in different ways, which gives you greater insight into where you need to drive improvement and where you are succeeding in providing quality care to your consumers.