Aged Care providers have a primary responsibility to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of care recipients, which in present times have proven to be more challenging and riskier than ever. Managing risk in the aged care industry is a complex issue, particularly given the vulnerability of both patients and staff and the environmental factors associated with workplaces of this nature.
As per the International Risk Management Standard ISO 31000:2018, the definition of risk is the “effect of uncertainty on objectives.” In today’s environment, it could not be closer to the daily life and concerns of aged care workers.
Staff ratios are not the only issue requiring risk management, particularly as the aged care industry navigates through the Covid-19 pandemic, with other risks including the security of patient data also requiring risk mitigation plans to be implemented by providers. In this article, we will look at how the aged care industry is managing risk in 2022 and beyond.
Risk in aged care
The aged care sector is facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainties. From COVID-19 outbreaks to ever-growing compliance requirements, low staff ratios and increased workplace burnout, the industry is in dire need of systems to support risk management and mitigation.
In Australia, care is provided to patients and residents by direct care staff, with limited availability of fully qualified registered nurses. At times, patient to qualified staff ratios are at levels such as one to thirty residents.
Risk management applies everywhere and to every industry. In terms of aged care, managing risk is not only applicable to residential care settings, but also to other places in which care is provided, such as patients’ homes, vehicles, and public places.
We often associate risk in the aged care sector with potential issues such as general consumer care and medication management, operational hazards of lifting, supporting, and moving patients, manual and equipment handlings such as beds, trolleys, and wheelchairs, as well as work-related stress and workplace bullying and harassment.
However, these are not the only risks worthy of consideration. With a greater reliance on technology, risk management of patient records is a huge consideration, with patients and families holding providers accountable for ensuring their data is always secure.
But one of the main risk areas in focus in 2020 and 2021 is the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak within facilities, with providers needing to ensure the continued safety of their staff and residents. There have been over 1,300 deaths and more than 4,000 cases within residential care facilities around Australia. The pandemic has put enormous additional pressure on staff, consumers, families and visitors, and aged care operators finances, which greatly amplify the overall risks in the industry.
Other main risk areas faced by the industry are the risks of failing quality and compliance assessments, risks surrounding funding pressures and risks relating to reputation damage and community trust.
Effective risk management always starts from the top and should filter down through the rest of the workforce if operating effectively. This was highlighted by the recent release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report, which made several recommendations regarding how providers should be managing risk in 2021 and beyond.
One of the most significant findings of the Royal Commission, which COVID-19 has also compounded, is that aged care providers are not meeting community expectations regarding providing continuous, high-quality care for residents. The Commissioners clearly addressed this through their recommendations made in the Final Report.
In the Final Report, the Commissioner’s suggested that providers needed to establish effective risk management practices, which addressed care, financial and other enterprise risks.
Additionally, the final report also indicated that providers’ respective Boards must attest that they are satisfied that the provider has put in place structures, systems and processes that ensure they continue to deliver a high quality of care.
How to manage risk
Given the Royal Commission’s findings and subsequent recommendations, providers must take the recommendations on board and adapt and implement these suggestions into their workplace.
From the recommendations outlined above, it is clear that managing risk in aged care is complex and needs to be ongoing. With continuous quality management and continuous risk management processes, aged care providers can ensure safe and efficient workplaces for both staff and residents.
The above requires staff to continuously identify risks and be on the lookout for ways to manage risks to prevent or reduce the incidents of the risks reoccurring in the future. Risk management is an area where technology plays a significant role. With integrated risk, quality and compliance systems such as ionMy, staying on top of risk management becomes a much more seamless, efficient and effective process.
This strategy is optimal in terms of the operational and care risks; however, for managing risks such as data security, providers must seek out secure platforms that keep their data safe and secure and implement the use of these platforms into their processes to be used by all staff.
This is where ionMy also comes in. Through our secure platform, we can also offer providers a solution to the risk management issue related to data.
ionMy software not only addresses risk, quality and compliance requirements, but it also creates efficiencies and cost savings to providers, a win-win for all.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the weaknesses in the aged care sector in terms of risk management.
As a result, the recommendations made need to be taken seriously by aged care providers to ensure that they are adequately managing risks of care, financial and other enterprise risks associated with care provision. ionMy robust platform can assist providers in managing risk associated with operating an aged care business for 2021 and beyond.
For more information on how ionMy can support risk management needs within your organisation, visit www.ionmy.info or contact our team via firstname.lastname@example.org