The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) today welcomed the introduction of the Code of Conduct for Aged Care as a means of improving quality care for older Australians and support for their families.
ACWIC Chair, Libby Lyons, said that the Code of Conduct extends standards that are already in place to recognise personal care workers and other roles involved in aged care.
“Appropriate standards of conduct are very much part of today’s system. Many aged care providers already have their own value statements or codes in place. And the overwhelming majority of care workers live and work to these principles every day – they work in the sector because it is rewarding work that makes a difference in people’s lives.
The Code of Conduct has been developed by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, in response to one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. It is modelled on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Code of Conduct and applies to aged care providers, their workers, and governing bodies. Commonwealth Home Support Program providers are not yet covered by this Code of Conduct, pending the transition to the new Support at Home Program in 2024.
The Code of Conduct, to be implemented and regulated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, ensures a consistent standard of behaviours across the aged care sector, and will help to increase trust.
“This new national Code of Conduct reinforces the expectations of aged care providers, their employees, management teams and Board members, and will improve the safety and quality of care for older people receiving care.”
“It means treating all people with dignity and respect, valuing their privacy and at all times acting in the best interests and care of the individual. In practice, it means acting promptly to respond to concerns, and to provide care and support free from discrimination, exploitation, neglect and abuse.”
“The key to the success of the Code of Conduct will be the role the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission plays in implementing and executing it. Success will depend on the Commission being able to strike a balance between encouraging compliance to protect older people from harmful behaviour, and the sensible enforcement of punitive measures. Getting this balance right will be vital in our quest to retain and attract staff to the sector,” she said.
Ms Lyons called on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to develop and disseminate practical resources to support aged care providers and their workers to understand their obligations under the Code of Conduct.
“The Code of Conduct is consistent with the existing responsibilities of providers and their employees. Nevertheless, it is in everyone’s interest that workers, executives and directors undertake regular professional development to ensure they are aware of and comply with expected behaviours in the Code. More important, is that all those covered by the Code of Conduct understand the consequences of failing to operate at the required standard, both for the organisation and individual”, she said.