Navigating the Royal Commission

Navigating the Royal Commission

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for a Royal Commission into the aged care sector, pre-empting the airing of a Four Corners report into abuse and neglect within the industry. The Royal Commission has not had its full specifics published yet, but the Department of Health has released the following list of topics that the Commission is anticipated to address:

  1. The quality of care provided to older Australians and the extent of substandard care;
  2. The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;
  3. The challenge of supporting an increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age;
  4. The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia; and
  5. Other matters the Royal Commission considers necessary.

Though it is saddening that one is required, the Royal Commission and wider public awareness has potentially positive implications beyond an improvement in care standards. It should cut out the few ‘bad eggs’ who have perpetuated the mistreatment and neglect of residents that is being portrayed in the media and clarify the need for better funding models that may expand upon the current ACFI framework. Any benefit to be brought about through changes to regulation or funding however, are not immediate as they must be enshrined in legislation. These changes may not come about until the Royal Commission makes its recommendations two and a half years from now.

The current challenge is to start implementing improvements now without increased funding or better legislation. Sources from the ABC, as well as politicians such as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have called for greater trained nurses and clinical staff to resident ratios as a proposed industry improvement. While this could increase care standards, the chief executive of COTA Ian Yates summed up the issue with his response to this proposal: ‘who [will] pay for the improvements?’ It is true that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised to bring forward the proposed $1bn yearly increase in funding the Liberal government had previously announced but that does nothing to address the issues being faced now. Until the Royal Commission hands in its results and there is formalised institutional change, the issue of nurse to carer to resident ratios remains a challenge. In the meantime, what remains viable is to stretch the current resources further and more efficiently.

In the aged care setting there is an imbalance of clinical to hospitality staff, favouring hospitality. If, through hospitality we improve resident wellbeing, that could free up clinical staff to operate in a lower stress environment. Unqualified staff cannot, of course, make diagnoses or prescribe treatment, but they can be trained to better identify the signs and symptoms of conditions such as dysphagia and then refer residents to qualified clinical staff. Regular staff can also take steps to maintain the dignity of residents and create a positive atmosphere that accentuates the quality of care without greater economic cost. Quality of care can be improved in small, yet noticeable ways in almost all aspects of hospitality, ranging from meal presentation to the manner in which residents are seated by staff.

At SoupedUp not only do we provide software to enable you to create and provide consistently great catering services that engage with resident’s allergies and preferences, we also have training videos and fact sheets that allow users to implement small techniques in their work that promote a positive social atmosphere and overall better quality of care. With SoupedUp’s catering management tools you can optimise and streamline your current hospitality programs to save both time and money without compromising your quality standards.

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