Keeping on top of your Quality Indicator reporting
Last updated on 12 January 2023
The Quality Indicators are a vital part of reporting for all residential aged care providers, requiring constant record keeping and quarterly reporting to the Department of Health and Aged Care.
It is important for providers to get this reporting right because it assists in informing the newly released star ratings, which show the quality of care your facility offers.
Following four top tips; investing in technology, combining reporting with other systems you use to monitor clients, training staff and seeking out help from professional sources when you need it, can give you confidence in not only meeting the strict requirements but providing a stellar service.
The current five Quality Indicators will also be expanding by six more in April 2023 (see below for list), so you need to be on top of the reporting process now in order to prepare for the expansion.
Up to five yet-to-be-determined Quality Indicators are also set to be introduced for in-home aged care providers, although a date has not been set for this introduction.
The Quality Indicators
Government-subsidised residential aged care services are currently required to collect data and report on:
- Pressure injuries
- Physical restraint
- Unplanned weight loss
- Falls and major injury
- Medication management including polypharmacy and anti-psychotics
From 1 April 2023 these providers will also need to collect data and report on:
- Activities of daily living
- Incontinence care
- Consumer experiences
- Quality of life
Collected data must be submitted no later than the 21st day of the month after the end of each quarter.
The Aged Care Quality and Safeguards Commission (ACQSC) has said it is up to providers to determine how they meet their responsibilities and what systems they use to do it.
So what can your organisation do to meet these strict reporting requirements?
Tip 1: Invest in technology
The best way to keep on top of regular reporting is to invest in technology and digital recording systems that will streamline the reporting process.
While you may consider updating or adapting existing in-house processes or systems, or even using traditional pen and paper recording of QI, this can be a false economy.
The Commission will not accept a paper copy of your reporting – it must be submitted digitally through the provider portal. So to eliminate the need to transfer paper records into a digital format, it is helpful to set up a digital system to collect the required data.
Many providers benefit from using software designed to support collecting, recording and collating of QI reporting. These types of software can not only create efficiencies for your teams on the ground, but also ensure that data is calculated, formatted and submitted correctly.
When it comes to consumer surveys and resident experience indicators, referring to industry software experts for reporting systems will save time and money in the long run.
CEO of CarePage Business, Lauren Todorovic, said her business’ consumer experience software has made an obvious difference for aged care providers conducting reporting.
“During the pilot for the new Consumer Experience and Quality of Life Indicators, providers quickly saw that without the right tools and technology in place collection and reporting was extremely onerous,” Ms Todorovic said.
“Some of the indicators may allow for easy reporting using in-house digital formats, but for others, such as the Consumer Experience and Quality of Life that require the collection of feedback from residents, there are a whole range of complexities that need to be considered. And providers can save time and money in the long run by engaging industry technology experts and using software designed for this purpose.”
For large Victorian provider Bluecross, Penelope Marshall, Executive General Manager, Clinical Governance, Risk and Innovation at BlueCross, says data collection and reporting from its 31 facilities is managed through both the IT and Clinical Governance Department.
“We meticulously plan our data collection, which is the most critical, time and resource consuming part of the process, in order to produce an accurate report,” she said.
Ms Marshall added that Bluecross has already been working for six months on processes for collecting data on the expanded indicators and expects to trial reports on the new indicators for the January to March quarter to prepare for the changes in April.
Working ahead and undertaking trial reporting now can ensure your business is prepared for this new reporting when the time comes.
If you don’t have an IT team, you can engage technical consultants to set up your record system that fits your reporting needs and to update it when necessary.
Mirus Australia Quality Lead Kate Airey, who works with aged care providers on consulting and software services, said every provider will have different systems in place to capture and manage data and that most clinical frameworks and supporting systems will enable reporting on the Quality Indicators.
Small aged care providers may be able to rely on data recording templates available for each quality indicator to automatically calculate and summarise the quality indicator data, then submit these through the provider My Aged Care portal’s Quality Indicator tile.
For facilities with only paper based records, the Department of Health and Aged Care does provide a data record template.
Read more about investing in technology for your facility in our article, ‘Incorporating more technology into your service or facility’.
Tip 2: Combining systems
All residential aged care providers should have systems in place for monitoring each resident and keeping track of factors such as medication, overall health and care needs.
Ms Airey said a good tip for providers unsure how to go about Quality Indicator reporting was to incorporate it into existing monitoring of each resident.
“Providers should have systems in place as part of their regular monitoring of each consumer in their care,” she said.
“The data required for the Quality Indicators should be routinely captured in care management systems, risk registers and pharmacy or medication reviews.”
This QI Program data can then be analysed alongside other health data you are collecting to get more of an overall picture of care outcomes for consumers, and give your organisations pointers on areas where care might be improved.
Tip 3: Training for staff
Within your organisation there will be multiple levels of employees who will need to understand the Quality Indicators and the reporting systems.
This will likely mean you need to provide training to staff on how to report, what to report and when to report it.
Ms Marshall said BlueCross staff are provided with training sessions on the QI Program because they are “active participants on this compliance task”.
“The education is extended to Residential Managers, Clinical Care Coordinators and Allied Health staff and it covers understanding [the QI Program], indicators to be reported, data collection requirements, results and benchmarking,” she said.
You can choose to train employees internally in line with the reporting requirements or to engage an external service to provide education or mentoring and ensure you are meeting the reporting obligations.
If you already have a training organisation that you use for other residential aged care staff education you can ask them whether they offer Quality Indicator specific training.
However, if you have a technical consultant that set up your recording system, or an in-house team, they will likely need to provide training on the practical side of how to use that specific system.
Tip 4: Seek out help
The QI Program is still new and is changing. If you are unsure whether your organisation is reporting correctly, has the most efficient reporting system or will need to improve systems for the expansion of the Indicators, there are some professional resources you can reach out to for help.
More information about the Quality Indicators program can be found in the Government’s National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program Manual. This includes how to collect and submit your data; a range of tools and resources to support continuous improvement; and information on how to access and use the QI Program tools in the My Aged Care portal.
The Department of Health and Aged Care has a helpline for providers that need assistance with QI data submission.
You can email the Department on [email protected] or call 1800 951 822 from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.
Consultancy firms also provide advice on reporting and software, as well as where providers can improve their processes – including transitioning from paper records to digital systems.
Providers were also encouraged to regularly visit the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s website, participate in webinars and subscribe to the monthly Aged Care Quality Bulletin and social channels to stay up to date with sector reforms.
What do you think of the Quality Indicator Program and how are you preparing for the expansion of the Indicators? Tell us in the comments below.