With the introduction of Australia’s new aged care quality standards, on July 1 2019, one of the requirements for providers is to show a ‘continuous improvement process‘. The focus is attempting to shift providers to self-assessment as a core component of the continuous improvement.
But what is continuous improvement and how do Aged Care providers find the resources and time to manage this with increasingly strained workforce?
Let’s start with what is continuous improvement.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety commission defines Continuous improvement as: “a systematic, ongoing effort to improve the quality of care and services.”
They see the Continuous improvement cycle as a four phase Plan-DO-Check-Act cycle.
From Aged Care Quality standards https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/providers/assessment-processes/continuous-improvement
So continuous improvement requires the ability to continuously monitor the standard of care and services provided. It also requires a provider to be able to quantify the levels achieved and validate improvements made. Finally it requires everyone to be on-board as continuous improvement requires cooperation and commitment.
How do you accomplish continuous improvement?
Most Aged Care providers will have a Quality plan in place and will be implementing that but how do you evaluate results? Currently this is generally done through surveys. Traditional surveying of residents is done periodically but increasing the cadence of this will add workload to existing staff, cost if outsourcing and most likely frustrate residents. Traditional surveys are point in time and often have low response rates. They also don’t allow staff to see small increments due to the length of time it takes to turn surveys around.
So continuous improvement will need to be able to endlessly monitor feedback from residents and visitors and be a results-focused activity.
What are other organisations doing?
Kyabram District Health Service (KDHS), a Healthcare service provider in rural Victoria Australia, wanted a simple way to gather continuous patient feedback. They wanted a solution which would allow them to quickly and efficiently measure the success of new initiatives implemented throughout their health service.
KDHS conducted regular healthcare experience and staff culture surveys as a component of its state funding requirements as a public health service of Victoria. Such surveys identify specific areas within the care experience that need improvement. The challenge faced when addressing these areas for improvement was to firstly identify what the source of the problem was so that rectifying initiatives could be developed and then to closely measure whether the initiative applied resulted in improvement.
In August 2016 KDHS implemented the award winning HappyOrNot service. The HappyOrNot one question model enables KDHS to achieve this improvement by focusing on one specific area for improvement at a time before moving onto the next area. Systematically, this has enabled KDHS to improve its delivery of care in many areas over a period.
” Instead of waiting three months to receive the next round of survey results, we are able to see results daily and staff are able to see the impacts of their hard work.” Bev McLaine, Manager, Quality, Experience and Safety at KDHS.
Read the entire case study here
With the new quality standards being introduced in July 2019, Coffs Coast Legacy (Legacy) understood the need to become more consumer centric as an organisation. They also wanted to ensure that they implemented a simple yet comprehensive solution that their consumers, family, community and employees would find easy to interact with on a daily basis.
In December 2019, they implemented 7 HappyOrNot devices to measure everything from cleanliness, to retail, to care, to staff well being, to experience and meal satisfaction, to provide an overall dashboard of how Legacy is delivering its services to the consumer.
”We were looking for a simple system that was user friendly but could give us layers of data that we could gain information to make improvements to our systems and processes.” states Shawn Bergquist, CEO/Director of Nursing.
Read the entire case study here
Continuous improvement requires a solution which won’t heavily impact resourcing, won’t negatively impact residents and be able to feedback information continuously. HappyOrNot is as simple for aged care providers to use as it is for residents, visitors and employees to give the feedback. The single question allows providers to focus on one process and standard at a time, validate the level of delivery, make small improvements and move on.
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