Aged Care

Royal Commission, Day Five: What Does Good Care Look Like?

After a series of horrific accounts of bad care, day five in the third series of hearings in the Royal Commission into Aged Care finally heard some unusually positive stories of Australian Aged Care. And, according to the day five speakers, good care comes down to good systems, good culture, and extensive recruitment processes.

The previous four days uncovered stories of abuse, indignity, and irresponsible distribution of medical restraints, it also heard the well-versed tale of understaffing and lack of appropriate training. But, the Commission’s panel on day five spoke of a seemingly different industry.

The panel consisted of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) representing three centres––Group Homes Australia, Tamar Chayen Krebs and Jonathan Gavshon; Brightwater Care Group, Jennifer Lawrence; and Glenview, Lucille Claire O’Flaherty, with each representative reflecting their own centre’s care models of which, collectively, presented a positive over-arching tone. They represented care models based around community, compassion and family involvement.

“Dementia-inclusive”, was the way Jennifer Lawrence of Brightwater Care Group described their approach to one of the widest discussed issues of the Commission––dementia––which featured heavily in day five. And all the panellists agreed that dementia needs to be humanised in care. Architectural wayfinding and deeper understanding were some of the ways exampled.

Ms Lawrence stating care for dementia needs to be addressed in the environment, on a human scale, “that aids people moving freely from bedroom to dining room to lounge room and being able to go outside.” And that even the colour schemes and building design be considered when supporting cognitive decline. But probably the most important consideration for dementia residents is relationships.

Ms Lawrence said they focus greatly on staff. Rostering the same staff for the same clients and in the same house, aiding the sense of family in the centres.

When asked, all the panellists agreed the current model of the industry is unfortunately based around a “one size fits all” standard which coincidentally, none of them is adhering to, rather their own customised care model––which is working.

And the common thread among these three highly positive representatives is their culture, and in particular, their hiring culture. The panel spoke of extensive recruitment processes and hiring heavily focused on emotional intelligence as well as skills and experience.

In the case of Tasmania’s Glenview, Ms O’Flaherty said they actually filter through hundreds of candidates, often weeding out those with a lot of experience in Aged Care, and opting instead for recruits that have experience in other human care industries––childcare, teaching, counselling––and train them in-house to take on dementia. She says often those who’ve been in the industry too long have been hardwired for task-based care, rather than people-centred care values Glenview herald. In fact, their tagline at Glenview is recruit for kindness and train for excellence.”

And the culture seems to filter through from there with these great examples of good care. With discussions of in-depth talks to family and residents when structuring their people-centred care, even going to the lengths of “training” their community––talking to staff in the local cafés and other businesses.

“Culture drives performance,” says Ms O’Flaherty, “the wrong culture will not drive what you need.”

A great lesson from day five.

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