By Jason Quick
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission have made it abundantly clear regarding their risk-based approach to quality care. Although it doesn’t just stop at risk, the new-world language extends to include choice and dignity of risk, risk assessments, open disclosure, appropriate response to risk and controls and so on.
So, how else can you ready your team? You need to be STOPPED.
Stop. Think. Observe. Plan. Prepare. Educate. Document.
**This is an extension of a very ‘well worn’ risk management acronym. Whether you use the acronym or another, or both, or whether you make up your own, the ultimate goal is to utilise a common language and framework for all your workforce. This will better your chances of ongoing alignment, commitment, sustainability and improved outcomes.
Means just that… stop. Reset. Release and re-think your approach to your data, your outcomes, your residents, your consumers. The point here is to stop and try to refocus through fresh eyes.
Are there immediate risks that must be attended to, avoided, mitigated, controlled or reduced straight away? Remove the immediate dangers. Once that is done, remember that risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin. So, when you think risk, think opportunity. With that in mind, what opportunities are being presented within those risks, and vice versa? Are you also aware of other associated risks to those identified – explore them. Think further afield than the immediate risk presented to you. Look for root cause.
With fresh, objective eyes, and a mindset primed for continuous improvement, observe the conditions around you, your facility, your organisation. Remove any bias you may have as this will skew your view and understanding of the conditions facing your facilities. Think about the conditions (the ‘what is’) impacting your facility, from the micro level (each consumer or resident) through to your facility as a whole, and all facilities combined. Look for patterns, trends or themes. Think of the risks that are associated with these conditions and patterns. Remember, conditions are not good or bad, they are simply ‘what is’! Let’s take rain, for example. When it is raining, that is the condition. Whether that is good or bad is based on the value that people are trying to generate. If you want to host a BBQ and I want to water my crops, we can both be in the same condition 'rain' and have differing views of opportunity and risk - because we are focused on different values in that context.
Based on what is being presented, consider preventative measures, develop capability within your teams, educate and support with a shared view that everyone is in to create quality care for all residents. Consult with subject matter experts.
Based on the plan, prepare to take action. Communicate with your teams the intentions set forth. Provide the why, the how, the who, the when etc.
Remember the evidence, which tells us that most issues identified are process-based, not person-based. Support your workforce, educate them, provide them with frameworks to operate within, encourage them to read widely, utilise tool-box sessions or however you frame your meetings and handovers. Be inclusive.
Understanding the risk-based approach to care, document everything. Find software that allows you to record evidence and log progress through continuous improvement cycles, and how these improvements link back to the new standards.
Remember, these cycles are iterative, and not necessarily linear – always return to ‘observe’ for the purpose of analysing feedback into your system. You may also notice that the largest component is actually ‘observe’. Objective observation is key to a growth mindset and continuous improvement, whether it be at the level of the individual or the organisation. Having an aligned view on ‘what is’ across the organisation is the critical platform to launch from, to make things happen.