The new single set of Quality Aged Care Standards' (Standards) commenced on 1 July 2019 where aged care providers adopted the eight new standards. Organisations are assessed by the Quality and Safety Commission and must be able to provide evidence of compliance with and performance against the Standards.
The Standards focus on outcomes for consumers and reflect the level of care and services the community can expect from organisations that provide Commonwealth subsidised aged care services. The following are a list of top tips that staff/contractors can be doing on a daily basis that show this focus on outcomes for consumers:
Care and Service Planning and Referral
- The RN must ensure all initial care and service plans and plan reviews are “approved” or ‘signed off’ by the consumer and/or their representative. Where allied health staff, lifestyle staff or designated contractors make changes, a clear system must be in place to seek approval from the consumer or their representative.
- The standards focus on risk management. It is the responsibility of the RN to complete risk assessments for consumers wishing to partake in activities involving risk or potential harm.
- RN and allied health professionals are expected to know the care needs and preferences of consumers, including ‘high risk’ consumers (wanderers, high falls risk, smokers, wounds, warfarin, diabetics).
- It is a health professional’s responsibility to complete education outside of what the organisation provides to enable accurate and informed consumer assessment and planning. This may include reading about legislative changes or best practice updates related to Aged Care, such as, new restraint information or international dysphagia guidelines.
- Referrals for urgent and important care must be completed within a short time frame by RN or Allied Health (as applicable). All other referrals must be completed in a timely manner and monitored to ensure the referral is successfully undertaken. Any recommendations from the specialists needs to be read, documented into the care and services plan and put into action for the consumer.
Customer Service, Choice and Communication
All staff and contractors must:
- Work with supervisors to understand exactly what is required under the new standards.
- Follow Organisational policy and procedures and the scope of their role.
- Greet the consumer warmly using their preferred name and title (as applicable).
- Ask the consumer how they are and explain your purpose. For example, “Good afternoon Mrs Nguyen. Its Harry from Maintenance. How are you?” and “I am here to fix the air conditioner – can I go ahead and do that now?”.
- Check with the consumer on their preferred option for care and services even when there are ‘lists’ showing what the consumer usually has, for example, “Would you like a cup of tea, coffee or a cold drink?”
- Ensure the consumer’s needs in care and services delivery (within the scope of your role) have been met before you leave the consumer.
- Refer to the consumer using the gender they identify with.
- Where the consumer is not able to vocalise consent, ensure you use the known communication method including any non-verbal cues to gain consent to provide care and services. For example, a consumer may nod or smile in agreement to your suggestion regarding the provision of care and service. If the consumer is distressed, the staff or contractor must stop the care procedure and address the distress.
- Ongoing, communicate with consumers throughout care and service delivery to provide reassurance and consent for each step.
- Speak to consumers respectfully at all times, that is, not raising your voice or shouting and having respect for the consumer’s choice.
- Consult consumers, for example, “Would you like to have dinner now?” “Would you like the apple sauce or gravy with your meal”?
- Speak in English in front of the consumer unless the consumer has a preferred language that can be spoken.
- Learn key words in the language of a non-English speaking consumer or where you work at a home with consumers from one cultural group, learn phrases and participate in any classes held to educate staff (to improve your communication with consumers and knowledge of the consumer’s culture).
- Respect consumers’ wishes in relation to risk and decision making. Report concerns regarding a consumer’s risk taking to the Registered Nurse or Management. For example, where a consumer refuses a puree meal, do not insist on the person eating that meal. Consider responding with “Let me see what other options we have for you. I will be back shortly?” and speak with the Registered Nurse.
- Ensure consumers are supported to be well presented at all times.
- Provide consumers with a comfortable and enjoyable dining experience and support consumers to maintain their dignity when eating and drinking.
A consumer’s diet must be based on assessed needs and preferences and must address:
- what is needed to sustain life and support ongoing good health
- dietary intolerances, allergies or medication contraindications
- level of support or help the consumer needs
- consumer’s preferences, and religious and cultural considerations
- timing of meals – consumers feel their dining experience is “comfortable and not rushed”.
- Care and clinical staff must monitor nutritional and fluid intake to prevent dehydration, weight loss or weight gain.
- Providers and caterers must ensure consumers can choose from suitable and healthy meals, snacks and drinks and have the option of taking part in planning the menu.
- Catering and care staff must provide an engaging mealtime experience to encourage consumers to eat and drink.
- Clinical, lifestyle and care staff must understand how they provide food and drinks outside of normal catering hours, as this must be available to consumers. This includes food that meets the consumers dietary needs and preferences.
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