New voluntary code for accountability and improvement

Louise O'Neill
Louise O'Neill, CEO, Aged Care Workforce Industry Council

An industry code of conduct outlining provider outcomes, accountability and improvement processes has been released in a bid to unify and progress the sector.

The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council’s Aged Care Voluntary Industry Code of Practice, released this week, listed seven principles for practical change.

In a statement, ACWI chief executive Louise O’Neill said consumers would be able to look to the code to understand how their provider is improving its aged care services and supports.

“With industry taking the lead in developing this code, it is fit for purpose for Australian users and the Australian community,” the statement said.

“In developing the code, the aged care sector wanted an outcomes focused approach that recognised the needs and value of older Australians and their families and carers, and supported their workforce to deliver exceptional outcomes.

“This approach makes clear the outcomes organisations and workers need to achieve. It provides individual organisations with the flexibility to decide how they deliver against these outcomes.”

The seven principles include consumer-led and community shared value, living well and integrated models of care, strong board governance, best-practice sharing and industry benchmarking, education and training including workforce accreditation, workforce planning, and proactive assurance and continuous improvement.

“The expectation of the community is that the value we place on our older Australians, and those who care for them, should be demonstrated in the quality and safety of the services which are provided,” the preamble said.

The code of conduct was initiated following the 2018 A Matter of Care report into workforce challenges, that highlighted the need for social change, more and better workforce training and clear career paths.

Ms O’Neill has previously said aged care workers deserved greater recognition for their efforts and resilience, with parity in pay with other caring roles.

In the same strategy, an industry code would define its commitment to safety and quality.

This month’s code of conduct also lists seven outcomes based around the principles, including person-centred care, consumer involvement in decisions about their care and holistic health for people’s physical, mental, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs as well.

Aged care providers were encouraged to sign up to the code, which will be overseen and administered by the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council.

Once a signatory, each service has six months to devise a transition plan to meet the code, detailing how and when they will meet its objectives.

A public listing will reveal to consumers which providers have signed up, their plan and their progress.

“The Code is a living document that will change as the sector evolves and it will continue to be aspirational to encourage all providers to strive for great quality and services for older Australians and to develop an exceptional industry for workers,” the statement said.

Supporters include Australian Unity, Wellness By Care, Benetas and Glenview Community Services.

Aged care is at a crossroads ahead of next year’s findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Most of the more than 3000 providers across the country are small and medium enterprises, and the recent StewartBrown report found almost eight out of 10 regional providers were operating at a loss amid growing structural costs.


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