The impact of delaying your transition to the Strengthened Quality Standards

July 8, 2024 | Quality

By Katie Airey, Quality, Risk and Compliance Lead

The Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards – final draft has been in circulation since November 2023 and are part of a broader wave of initiatives to increase the uniformity and consumer centricity of aged care.

The Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) have confirmed that they don’t expect any further changes to be made to the Strengthened Quality Standards and that providers should already be working towards transitioning their services in preparation for the go-live date, 1 July 2025.

With the expectations and requirements of regulators and consumers rapidly evolving, the importance of maintaining high quality standards cannot be overstated. The Quality Standards form the core of operational and clinical excellence, yet many organisations are still considering the timetable for their transition to the Strengthened Quality Standards. This delay may seem reasonable but may also have profound implications, both operationally and strategically.

Operational impacts

  1. Increased operational inefficiencies: Delaying the transition to the Strengthened Quality Standards may lead to inefficiencies in operations, slower processes, inconsistent outputs and a higher risk of non-compliance due to duplication and confusion from poor planning and improper consideration of impacts due to tight time pressures.
  2. Increased costs: Operational inefficiencies are directly relatable to increased costs. Organisations may find themselves spending more on rectifying non-conformance, workforce recruitment, restoring positive culture and rebuilding their brand. Spreading the transition time out can also embed planned activities into normal business hours rather than rely on backfilling of staff with agency hours to support transition work.
  3. Lower Employee morale: Employees working within an organisation who delay transitioning are more likely to experience decreased job satisfaction, employee absenteeism and negative culture resulting in reduced productivity and higher turnover rates, particularly as timeframes tighten. This can be caused by incomplete or insufficient training or too much pressure on employees to “make the switch”.

Strategic impacts

  1. Competitive disadvantage: Organisations who delay transitioning may find they are disconnected from the market’s expectations. An unsatisfactory reputation has become far more transparent to both the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) and the public as the sector moves towards data driven risk profiling. The increased transparency of this data is occurring through websites, provider ratings and consumer groups.
  2. Lost market opportunities: Ineffective advertisement, low brand recognition, slow time to market, reputational issues are all side effects that organisations face, particularly when they are not meeting the quality expectations of consumers. While a transition period is expected, each provider will be judged by the average in the industry and falling behind this benchmark could leave a provider with a great deal of ground to catch up on.
  3. Long-term sustainability Risks: The impacts, risks and missed opportunities related to taking a reactive approach vs a proactive approach ultimately will impact the financial sustainability and viability of the organisation. History has repeatedly shown that the initial effort to transition to changing compliance requirements is the majority of the effort that providers will make. Any shortfall in the planning and execution of this transition is unlikely to be supplemented until significant compliance shortfalls are dealt with by the commission.

The impact of deferring the transition to the Strengthened Quality Standards comes with significant risks to the operational performance including having a negative impact on the older people who are accessing care and services. Slowing down the speed of transition is a key success factor in ensuring that changes are embedded correctly, comprehensively and without unnecessary cost and impact on staff and consumers. The consequences of delay can significantly hinder an organisations success, therefore the transition to the Strengthened Quality Standards should be front of mind for all governing bodies and operational managers now.

The reforms agenda requires significant attention, our team are supporting multiple providers though the transition through our Aged Care Reform Transition Support service. If you need help, please get in touch and let us help you #makeagedcarebetter.