Code of Conduct for Aged Care Workers

December 1, 2022 | Aged Care Reform

New Code of Conduct

By Taranjot Minhas, Consultant

The next 12 months for the aged care sector will bring unrelenting change. Star Ratings, Quarterly Financial Reporting, revised Quality Standards, the new Aged Care Act and a new Code of Conduct are just some that come to mind. Most changes can be managed well by keeping informed and preparing in advance. In this blog, we explore how you can manage the new Code of Conduct.

The Code has been through public review and consultation and has been introduced into practice on 1st December 2022.

The Code of Conduct for Aged Care: Guidance for providers and Code of Conduct for Aged Care: Guidance for aged care workers and governing persons are available to assist you to understand your obligations as approved providers, aged care worker, or governing persons of an approved provider. These document provides thorough practical guidance on each of the eight elements with examples and case studies to enhance understanding of workers and governing bodies.

Some key information is highlighted below:

Aged care and NDIS Congruency

The Code has been developed based on the existing National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Code of Conduct. There are minor differences in language and definitions. Substantially the same responsibilities of providers, governing persons and workers across the sectors. Both codes focus strongly on an individual’s right to receive safe and quality supports and service, to have confidence in the workforce, and to feel and be protected.

Who does the Code apply to

The Code will set out standards of expected behaviours and applies equally to:

  • approved aged care providers
  • their governing persons (e.g., board members and Chief Executive Officers)
  • aged care workers who are:
    • employed or otherwise engaged (including on a voluntary basis) by the provider, and
    • employed or otherwise engaged (including on a voluntary basis) by a contractor or subcontractor of the provider to provide care or other services to consumers.

Some examples of people covered by the code are direct care workers, support workers, lifestyle coordinators and care companions, nursing staff providing care, independent contractors engaged by the provider (including health professionals such as allied health), kitchen, laundry, garden, maintenance and office personnel employed by the provider, volunteers of the provider who deliver care, supports and services to consumers, students, service coordinators and case managers, and consultants, trainers and advisors for regulatory support or systems improvement who are under the control of the provider.

The Code applies to approved providers of residential, home care and flexible care services. Flexible care includes the Transition Care Program, Multi-Purpose Services Program and Short-Term Restorative Care Program. The Code will not apply to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP). The CHSP and NATSIFACP providers will still be required to provide care that is safe and respectful and to behave in a way that is in keeping with the Code.

Compliance with the Code

The Commission will be responsible for overseeing compliance with the Code. Depending on the circumstances, they will take compliance and enforcement action to direct changes to the way a provider and/or an individual conducts themselves. The Commission have access to a range of actions to respond to different situations. In severe cases, actions may include banning a current or former worker or governing person from working in the aged care sector or, in the case of approved providers, applying a sanction or revoking their approved provider status.

Further support

Other resources for provider and consumer can be found on the Commission’s website support are coming, including:

  • Worker and Consumer Fact Sheets,
  • Web-based self assessment quiz,
  • Introductory video for providers and workers,
  • Webinar recordings,
  • Case studies,
  • Online learning through free Aged Care Learning Information Solution (Alis), and
  • Translated and Easy English versions of some resources.

There is no mandatory training being put out by the Commission yet – providers are being expected to ensure workers and governing bodies understand and behave consistent with the Code.

How to raise concerns

Concerns can be brought up to the Commission through:

  • complaints that they receive,
  • info they obtain during a site visit for reaccreditation audits,
  • reportable incident notification under SIRS and
  • Customer Contact Centre.

Tools and powers to deal with behaviour inconsistent with the Code include:

  • Discussing the info with the provider, aged care worker, governing person, complainant
  • Requesting additional info or docs
  • Requiring a provider to take specific action, and
  • Requiring a provider to undertake an investigation or Commission can undertake an investigation too.

In the most serious cases, a banning order could stop or restrict a person from engaging in, providing or being involved in the provision of aged care. It could be permanent or for a specific period, it could be shared with other Commissions or Agencies, and will be publicly published on the website so other employers etc. can see it.

Providers can prepare for this change in the Code by ensuring that all staff understand what good behaviour looks like, staff know where to find more information and how to raise concerns if they have any.