Continuous improvement (CI) in the Care industry is a systematic, continued effort to improve the quality of care and services. The CI concept should be embedded into daily practices, and it requires a concerted focus when managing care service delivery.
Initiatives related to continuous improvement can vary from minor gradual improvements to substantial strategic activities. The ongoing goal is to enhance the quality of services provided and ultimately improve consumers’ outcomes.
In the Aged Care industry setting, providers must have a written Plan for Continuous Improvement (PCI), which explains how they will evaluate, monitor and improve their quality of care and services, measured against the Aged Care Quality Standards.
There has been an increased focus on the importance of a PCI, a vital tool of accountability and commitment to compliance and overall good governance for aged care services.
On the 17th of November 2021, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) communicated its expectations regarding continuous improvement requirements and regular review of approved providers’ plans for continuous improvement (PCI).
Effective organisation-wide governance systems relating to continuous improvement are essential elements of effective governance, outlined under the Quality Standard 8. Under Standard 8 requirement 3(c), “organisations must have a plan for continuous improvement and check their progress against this plan to improve the quality and safety of care services.”
Care Providers should regularly check their Plans for Continuous Improvement and record progress on planned improvements to demonstrate compliance with the requirements. This data can also be captured in a Quality management solution, such as ionMy.
With the Aged Care Standard 8 requirement “3(c) – Effective Organisational Governance” being frequently listed in the top ten non-compliant requirements in the sector performance reports, there is growing industry demand for a systematic approach to sound governance including continuous improvement.
Continuous Improvement – A Cyclic Approach
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning” – Benjamin Franklin.
The Aged Care Quality Commission outlines a helpful cyclic model for continuous improvement: the four-phase Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.
1 – Plan
The first step in this approach is analysing your organisation’s current situation by collecting information, seeking feedback and insight from stakeholders and understanding the improvements to be made and how to meet those needs better. The care-providing organisation should establish goals and actions in this phase to support the plan implementation.
2 – Do
Once the Plans for Continuous Improvement have been developed, it’s implementation time. As part of this phase, providers should test suggested improvement alternatives to identify the preferred improvement. It’s important to document decisions made and keep stakeholders involved and informed on the outcomes.
3 – Check
As part of a cyclic approach to continuous improvement, evaluating if the plan is delivering on what it is set to do is fundamental. As part of this checking process, measurements such as audits, surveys and assessments should be applied.
4 – Act
The last phase of this model is taking action to standardise the process. If the improvement intended failed, the organisation should examine what can be done better and re-evaluate the plan with an alternative approach through the improvement cycle.
If the improvement plans succeed, stakeholders should be informed. In addition, staff should be trained to meet the improved processes and policies and procedures implemented to reflect it.
Supporting Continuous Improvement With A Proven Digital Solution
ionMy has a dedicated area for Continuous Improvement in its platform. ionMy users can link Continuous Improvement records directly with the Aged Care Standards, allowing for a ‘ready to go’ evidence trail when audits happen.
The ionMy Continuous Improvement module demonstrates that quality improvements are made due to ongoing assessments of the organisation’s performance giving evidence of continuous improvement.
With ionMy, providers have a better ability to provide ongoing improvement to care delivery, so it is safe and effective. It meets consumers’ plans to ensure it focuses on optimising health and well-being according to the consumer’s needs, goals, and preferences.
Learn more about managing Continuous Improvement Plans through a systematic approach to achieve better results and comply with all regulations.