How to prepare for the Strengthened Quality Standards

June 12, 2024 | Quality

By Katie Airey, Quality, Risk and Compliance Lead

As the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) gears up in preparation for the roll out of the Strengthened Quality Standards, it has also been guiding providers to commence their transition planning. To support providers, the ACQSC has published 16 draft guidance material documents.  

The draft evidence framework document provides great insight to assist the sector to understand what evidence will be required to demonstrate conformance under the Strengthened Standards framework. It is crucial to note that providers should use this document in addition to the other available resources and not as a stand-alone guide.  

Under the Strengthened Standards, there are 21 themes which are used to categorise evidence against the 33 outcomes. These themes include: 

  1. Person-centred care 
  2. Dignity, respect, and privacy 
  3. Choice, independence and quality of life 
  4. Agreements, fees, pricing, invoicing and statements 
  5. Corporate and clinical governance 
  6. Accountability and quality system 
  7. Risk management system  
  8. Incident management  
  9. Feedback and Complaints management system 
  10. Information management system 
  11. Workforce and human resources management
  12. Emergency and disaster management 
  13. Assessment and planning 
  14. Delivering comprehensive care and services 
  15. Clinical safety 
  16. Care coordination and transitions 
  17. Environment 
  18. Infection prevention and control 
  19. Medication management 
  20. Food and nutrition 
  21. Palliative and end of life care 

The evidence requirements have been broken down into the following categories at both an organisational level and at the provider level:

  • Documents and records 
  • Governing body feedback 
  • Management feedback 
  • Worker feedback 
  • Third party feedback 
  • Experience of older people 
  • Observations 
  • Care outcomes 

Here are eight ways you can prepare for the new requirements of the Strengthened Standards: 

Understand the Standards: The first step is to thoroughly understand the Strengthened Standards and the associated outcomes and themes. Providers should familiarise themselves with the 21 themes and 33 outcomes and understand what each one means in practical terms. 

Review current practices:  Review your current practices against the requirements of the Strengthened Standards. This will help identify any gaps or areas for improvement, which should be added to the organisation’s plan for continuous improvement.  

Develop an action plan: Based on the review, develop an action plan to address the identified gaps. This could involve changes to policies and procedures, staff training, or improvements to systems and processes to align with contemporary best-practice.  

Collect and organise evidence: Start collecting and organising evidence to demonstrate your conformance with the Strengthened Standards. This includes documents and records, feedback from various stakeholders, along with observations and care outcomes. 

Implement changes: Implement the changes identified in your action plan. This could involve a phased approach, starting with the most critical areas first. 

Monitor and review: Once the changes have been implemented, be sure to monitor and review your performance against the Strengthened Standards. This will help identify any further areas for improvement. 

Engage with stakeholders: Providers should engage with stakeholders, including older people, their families, staff, and third parties, to get their feedback and input. This will help ensure that the services are truly person-centred and meet the needs and expectations of older people. 

Continuous improvement: Look at the Strengthened Standards not as a one-off compliance exercise, but as a tool for continuous improvement. Continually review and update your practices with the goal of delivering care and services that align with the definition of high-quality care. Keeping in mind the current definition within the Draft Aged Care Act is yet to be finalised.  

Remember, preparation is key. The more you, your workforce and older people understand about the Strengthened Standards and what they mean for your services, the better prepared you will be to meet these new requirements. It’s a journey of continuous improvement towards providing high-quality, person-centred care for older people. 

Need help? Our Quality, Risk & Compliance Team, through our Aged Care Reform Transition Support service, have been helping providers with their transition planning. To ensure a smooth and successful transition, contact us for support in getting prepared.