The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) officially launched the Voluntary Industry Code of Practice for Aged Care, which has been in the works since 2018.
Providers are being encouraged to pledge their commitment to the Code, however, the ACWIC is aware that some members of the aged care sector haven't expressed support for the Code as it is currently, which is why there is still time to develop the Code further.
Until June 2021, the Code will be further refined through extensive consultation with aged care stakeholders.
This Code was unveiled by Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Richard Colbeck, on Monday, receiving congratulations from the Australian Government.
Minister Colbeck says the Code of Practice is already receiving strong early support from the sector with some of Australia's largest providers already pledging their commitment to quality care.
"This Code of Practice is the first of its kind for the aged care sector in Australia," says Minister Colbeck.
"It is based on seven guiding principles for quality care and will be a transformative tool for Australia’s aged care sector.
"Importantly, this Code of Practice tells Australians that the aged care sector has aspirations for excellence, and will hold itself accountable to the community."
He believes that this launch by industry and workforce leaders will mark a new chapter of quality aged care in the country and that aged care services who adopt the principles of the Code highlight their commitment to the process of continuous improvement.
This Code intends to be a strategy centrepiece for the sector and may set the groundwork for a culture of proactive aged care reform.
Industry peak body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), played a large role in the consultation process of the Code, including the delivery of a draft of the Code to the ACWIC.
Building on the original report from the Aged Care Workforce Taskforce, 'A Matter of Care', which was a part of the Australian aged care workforce strategy in 2018, LASA led this project on behalf of the ACWIC and explored the proposed elements of the Code from the report.
Chief Executive Officer of LASA, Sean Rooney, says, "LASA is committed to realising a high performing, respected and sustainable aged care system. A system that delivers care and services with safety, quality and compassion – always. We believe that an Industry Code of Practice for aged care is an important step to realise this.
"LASA is a strong supporter of the Code and we are encouraging all aged care services to sign up and take the pledge.
"The Code is a collective approach in which services can publicly state their commitment to good quality and their commitment to continuous improvement in response to the needs of the older Australians they care for and support."
LASA's draft Code with updated materials was provided to the ACWIC and further developed on.
In the Code, there are seven principles, including:
Principle 1 - Consumer-led and community shared value
Consumers are the centre of decisions and outcomes for their care.
Principle 2 - Living well and integrated models of care
There should be a focus on the consumer's quality of life and choice through holistic and integrated models of care.
Principle 3 - Board governance
Performance, risk mitigation and good culture originate from strong governance.
Principle 4 - Best practice sharing and industry benchmarking
Sharing between providers of lessons learnt and best practice does support continuous improvement and also improves care and support for consumers.
Principle 5 - Education and training, including workforce accreditation
Aged care staff that are appropriately skilled, trained, and qualified do deliver improved care and support to consumers.
Principle 6 - Workforce planning
To deliver holistic and innovative care practices and improved care outcomes, there needs to be enhanced workforce planning.
Principle 7 - Proactive assurance and continuous improvement
A high-performing aged care sector and workforce is built on information, transparency, and a culture of continuous improvement.
Minister Colbeck commended the ACWIC and the sector for developing tangible reform for aged care in Australia.
He adds that the Government is supporting the implementation of this strategy through the $10.3 million 2020-21 Budget allocation over the next three years.
"The Code of Practice underpins the values and principles for delivering quality care to our senior Australians," says Minister Colbeck.
"In practice, these principles will better support the aged care workforce in its critical role of caring for, and delivering services to, older Australians.
"The fact that industry has reached this milestone during a year of such disruption, due to COVID-19, is a testament to the sector’s commitment to cultural change."
This Code has been released ahead of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's Final Report due to Parliament by 26 February.
The ACWIC acknowledged the support of industry groups, including Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), the Aged Care Guild, Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC), the Commonwealth Department of Health, National Seniors, Bluecare, and United Workers.
For more information on the Voluntary Industry Code of Practice, please visit the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council website.