Are Clinical Governance Committees the same as Advisory Bodies?

(l-r) Sherrie Boucher, Doreen Power, Dmitry Shibanov and Melissa Katsinas.

In this guest post, Sherrie Boucher from aged care advisory Trailblazers shares her views on this topical issue that aged care boards need to traverse in order to deliver quality and compliant care.

Many providers out there might be thinking that they can turn their existing Clinical Governance Committees into the newly regulated ‘quality care advisory bodies.’ Despite this advice being stated in the Provider Responsibilities Relating to Governance guidance, there are some other references that should not be dismissed.  That is, that the existing governance committees are okay as long as they meet the requirements in the Act.

The healthcare sector is a diverse system of complex processes and stakeholders, each integral in crafting the health and well-being of our communities. Clinical governance and advisory bodies are two such key components, particularly within the context of aged and home care in Australia. Their roles, while distinct, are interlinked, fostering a collaborative environment that promotes the delivery of excellent care.

Clinical governance is the framework that holds all healthcare organisations accountable for continually improving the safety and quality of their services, ensuring high standards of care. It encompasses a range of processes including risk management, clinical indicators and audits, and consumer feedback mechanisms. It ensures the delivery of safe, effective, and person-centred care to older Australians. Yet, the rapidly evolving landscape of aged care presents new challenges and opportunities that require additional support and expertise.

Independent advisory bodies in aged and home care serve as independent think tanks providing knowledge and advice to the board of directors. Independence is the framework for advisory bodies. They are free of any interests that might influence, or be reasonably perceived to influence, their capacity to bring independent judgement to issues and act in the best interests of the organisation. How can you provide independence if you’re critiquing your own work?

In this era of significant changes to the aged care governance framework, where many board directors have chosen to exit due to increased risks, we need to think differently. The desire to ‘fake it until you make it’ by merely renaming your current committees to fit the compliance bill is a short-sighted strategy. This approach will not suffice in the long run, and issues of independence and conflicts of interest will inevitably surface.

Recycling the same principles and expecting better results is a fallacy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. With the imminent rollout of all changes creating even more turbulence and exposing you to even more risks, it’s time to start moving in the right direction.

Consider bringing on board at least one independent advisor or certified chair who can assist you in navigating all changes and will keep your advisory body accountable and focused.

It is not a coin flip between Clinical Governance Committees and Advisory Bodies. It’s a strategic decision that could change the course of your company’s future. Make an informed decision, and let the path towards independence, codesign and innovation begin!

Providers must remember that a selection process must take place for the advisory body with explanations as to why those individuals were appointed. There are reporting requirements set out in the Act.

The cost of engaging an advisory body is minimal compared to the wealth of executive knowledge accessed. It’s a powerful return on investment, providing clear, actionable advice that enables organisations to navigate the aged and home care landscape effectively.


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