New provider governance rules in aged care

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has released a draft guidance document outlining a series of new responsibilities for approved providers in relation to their governance arrangements.

What has changed?

The Aged Care Act has been amended to introduce specific provider responsibilities in relation to governance arrangements. These include:

  • Ensuring the governing body has responsibility and direct oversight of staff qualifications, skills and capability development.
  • Responsibilities in relation to the membership of governing bodies.
  • Responsibilities around establishing quality care and consumer advisory bodies.
  • Assessing the suitability of key personnel and reporting any changes in circumstance.
  • The governing body’s responsibility for staff qualifications, skills and capability building.
  • Content of the organisation’s constitution.
  • Reporting responsibilities.

These changes should be understood within the context of Standard 8 (Organisational governance) of the Aged Care Quality Standards, focused on holding the governing body of the organisation responsible for the organisation and delivery of safe and quality care services that meet the standards.

Why are the changes seen as necessary?

One of the many findings of The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was the critical role of the governing body in the provision of high-quality care; particularly in terms of leadership, culture, transparency and accountability. The report stated that “those who hold managerial and leadership positions in providers of aged care are able to exert a profound influence over the culture of the care environment and the people who operate within it”.

Who is impacted?

These guidelines are squarely aimed at the organisation’s governing body.

A “governing body” could mean a board or equivalent committee, or any group of people responsible for executive decision-making, such as CEOs and other executive managers. They are responsible for setting the direction and strategic priorities for the organisation, overseeing its financial management, ensuring its efficient and effective operation, and leading and setting the organisation’s culture. In short, the governing body directly influences the safety and quality of care provided to consumers.

How do the changes impact workforce compliance?

In terms of workforce skills and qualification compliance, Standard 7 of the existing Quality Standards requires organisations to “have and use a skilled and qualified workforce sufficient to deliver and manage safe, respectful, and quality care and services”.

According to the guidelines, the new responsibilities build on the requirements of Standard 7 and “support and drive renewed emphasis on leadership development, staff training, professional development and continuing learning, and staff engagement”. They also ensure “direct oversight of staff qualifications, skills and capability by the governing body”.

Specifically, the guidelines state that an approved provider must require the governing body to ensure staff members:

  • have the appropriate qualifications, skills or experience to provide the care or other services that the approved provider provides; and
  • are are given opportunities to develop their capability to provide those services.

Organisations must keep records that show how the governing body has demonstrated compliance with this responsibility. This may include keeping copies of qualification and registration certificates, minutes from meetings, communications about capability, copies of performance management meetings, or attendee lists for training events.

When do the new requirements come in to effect?

  • Providers approved before 1st December 2022 have until 1st December 2023 to put the governance changes in place.
  • New providers (approved on or after 1st December 2022) must comply from the date of their approval.

Compliance made simple with Cited

Enjoy a step-change in workforce compliance visibility as soon as you implement the Cited platform. Any staff who do not meet requirements will stand out immediately, giving the governing body the confidence that your workforce is consistently meeting Aged Care Quality Standards at all times.

Cited offers safe and secure digital storage for credentials and other compliance documentation, and generates all the reporting and evidence a governing body will need to stay on top of these new requirements relating to workforce skills, qualifications and training.