The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is set to be published by this Friday, 26 February 2021. The report will be a massive document containing many complex recommendations and insights into how the industry is likely to change over the coming years.
For aged care providers, the prospect of engaging with the report may seem daunting. The key to making the most of the report without getting overwhelmed is to read strategically. To do this you need to use the format of the report to your advantage and understand the context. Also, a good first step is to focus on governance and use some key questions to target your reading.
Focusing on governance
By “governance” we mean the operational systems and processes that control and monitor your organisation. There are three reasons why you should keep governance in the front of your mind as you read the Final Report.
First, governance is important to the Royal Commission and will be a major feature of the Final Report. The Commission will almost certainly make recommendations about the qualifications and accountabilities of your leadership team, reporting requirements, and your systems and processes from the top down.
Second, your response to the Final Report begins with governance. Ad hoc, casual chats about the content of the Final Report are not enough. Your leadership team will need to respond to the report in an organised way, summarising and communicating key information to the people who need it.
Third, if you focus on governance, your reading of the report will be easier and more efficient. Instead of jumping into the vast report at random, use these governance-related questions to plan and focus your reading:
- What does the report say about the qualifications and independence of board members? Do our members meet the Commission’s recommended standard?
- What does the report say about staff qualifications, ratios, training and management? Do our systems and processes meet the Commission’s recommendations?
- What does the report say about transparency and managing complaints? Do our systems and processes meet the Commission’s recommendations?
- What does the report say about clinical governance? Do our systems and processes meet the Commission’s recommendations?
- Does the report recommend changes to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and its assessment processes? If so, what flow-on changes will we need to make to our assessment processes?
- What issues am I most worried about? What are my staff most worried about?
- What are our weak points (e.g. recent not-mets)? What does the report have to say about these issues?
- What issues do the Board and management need to discuss together?
Using the format of the report to your advantage
You don’t have to read the whole report. If the Final Report follows the formatting of the Interim Report (which it likely will), you can use the contents page to skip to the parts you need. On top of this, a few useful tips are:
- Read the introduction/overview – this section was only about 12 pages long in the Interim Report, and about six pages long in the Royal Commission’s special COVID-19 report.
- Skip to the end and read the conclusion.
- Within each section that interests you, read the introduction and conclusion first.
- Use the contents page to divide the report into three areas:
- recommendations directed at government
- recommendations directed at home care providers
- recommendations directed at residential aged care providers.
Then prioritise the area that affects you directly and leave the rest for later.
- Ignore any Appendices unless you really need them (the Interim Report contained a whole volume of Appendices, so the Final Report will likely contain the same).
Understanding the context
Before you start reading, bear in mind:
- The Royal Commission’s recommendations are just that – recommendations. No laws will be changed, or new funding provided, until and unless government adopts the recommendations. It’s likely that many of the recommendations will be quickly adopted by government, but some may not be adopted for years, if ever.
- The report will be harshly critical of aged care providers. This shouldn’t be surprising given the Commission’s previous reports, but it’s worth remembering so you can prepare yourself.
- Residential aged care is only one part of the report. Much of the report will focus on areas such as government funding, community attitudes and home care.
Accessing the Final Report and further resources
The Royal Commission says it will provide the Final Report by 26 February 2021 on its website here.
The Final Report will be big news and will no doubt stir up a storm of opinions in the media.
To help you cut through the noise and maintain a balanced view, ACE will be publishing a series of articles over the next few weeks summarising the key issues from the Final Report and highlighting what they mean for residential aged care providers.
Meanwhile, for your next steps consider adding “Discuss the Royal Commission’s Final Report” to the agenda for your next strategic meeting.