Effective changes that can lead to good governance in aged care

Last updated on 10 April 2024

Good governance is essential in aged care but there are common challenges all providers face. [Source: Shutterstock]

Good governance has an instantaneous flow-on effect on other areas of aged care performance, but common challenges prevent many home care providers from implementing improved governance processes. 

This doesn’t mean providers cannot achieve good governance. Rather, it means you need to understand what has to change and how you can achieve that change if you’re struggling to operate effectively from top to bottom.

David Willems, Account Executive at Ideagen CompliSpace explored governance challenges facing home care providers in a webinar titled Good Governance in Home Care

Mr Willems began by highlighting the integral relationship between governance and care as he explained the two go hand-in-hand.

“We know it’s about our residents and how well we look after them. We know this is going to be a focus operationally across the board as it’s been very provider-focused over the years but that’s all changing now to make it more customer-centric,” he said.

“This is what we’re all trying to achieve as far as providing good governance for our care staff to ensure we’re providing good care. Governance is something we shouldn’t just touch on from time to time, it needs to be a part of our day-to-day and always a part of what we do.”

Provider compliance impacted by poor governance

In the most recent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector Performance Report, the Commission identified Quality Standard 8 (Organisational governance) as an area of concern across home care and residential care settings. Just 75% of home care service providers and 88% of residential care facilities were compliant. 

While those numbers may seem strong – and it is a positive the vast majority are compliant – it is concerning for those who are not achieving positive results. 

“Why is this so important? There’s a flow-on effect leading from poor governance into other aged care standards causing lower rates of compliance,” Mr Willems said.

“This is the part we need to focus on; how can we improve? Other focal points include how [non-compliance] impacts the quality of care and whether we are receiving higher rates of complaints.”

“It’s not all bad news but it’s about how we get a little bit better as we continue into the future and look after our customers.”

Time to make changes

Insights from Ideagen’s Aged Care Workforce Report 2023 were also shared during the webinar to highlight areas of improvement, common challenges and more. The key points covered by Mr Willems include:

  • Almost three-quarters of employees anticipate they will make major changes to their systems and processes to meet regulation and compliance requirements over the next 12 months
  • Just over 50% are confused about their reporting obligations with unclear policies and guidelines potentially to blame
  • Nearly 80% of staff have experienced an increased workload, which could be improved through the introduction of new technologies and streamlined systems
  • Four out of five employees say that new staff require significant training due to high turnover rates, which in itself results in a need to capture data regarding training, education and staff understanding of governance and policies
  • Roughly 41% of employees have lost key management with governance and compliance issues cited as workload burdens that contributed to their loss

Among all of these challenges, there is arguably one recurring theme: understanding. Whether it is employees understanding what they need to do to be compliant, or service providers understanding what auditors and assessors are looking for, everyone wants to know more. 

Once the strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards are introduced, Mr Willems said providers will have a greater understanding of their governance and management requirements. In the meantime, there are still ongoing challenges providers face, and he said top-level engagement is one way to achieve good governance.

“An effective organisation with systems relating to all various areas – feedback and complaints, regulatory compliance and continuous improvement – that’s going to be looked upon favourably by the assessors,” he said. 

“We talk about the assessors; what are they looking for now? Assessors will be looking for how engaged your board members are with not only the organisation but also with residents and staff. They want to see a good micro-level understanding of what’s happening.”

Other tips provided by Mr Willems include streamlining access to policies and procedures, versatile access to training and education, centralising systems and processes and improving reporting methods to reduce the amount of time spent behind a desk. 

home care
ideagen complispace
quality standards
legal and compliance
David Willems
good governance