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It’s not just about compliance, it’s about quality of life

4th March 2019

John Silvester’s article in The Age (23rd Feb’ 19) raises the issue of compliance vs quality in our aged care services across Australia. Former Senator Bernard Cooney spent the end of his life as a resident in a Melbourne aged care facility, using his final days to document a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

In his submission, Senator Cooney offers sound advice and insight into the difference between quality and compliance and it is this that often gets overlooked in aged care. He talks about being provided with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, placed on the table well out of reach, failing to instruct “how I would reach it or assist me to do so or indicate that she would arrange for another staff member to help me, although I was clearly incapable of moving the bed-like chair to which I am confined.”

The accreditation standards focus on compliance but there is a competing priorities between compliance and quality, with limited capacity. Whilst Senator Cooney was provided with his cup of coffee, therefore meeting the standards for hydration, there was no quality to the service; “there was no greeting or even mention of my name as the staff member placed the cup on a stand”.

As far as the staff member was aware, their duty “was only to deliver the afternoon coffee”, not to provide any assistance with drinking the coffee or even asking if such assistance was required. It is practices such as these that are the downfall of providing quality aged care services.

When it comes to aged care, we cannot afford to continue with ‘compliance focused’ practices at the cost of quality care. We need to do more, as an industry, to provide support and assistance to older Australians as they “struggle to maintain [their] human dignity and involvement in life”.

At Benetas, we are absolutely focused on meeting the compliance standards but have a very clear focus on addressing quality of life. Our understanding of ageing is changing. There is a growing awareness of a good experience of ageing and quality of life, and how different factors impact a positive experience of ageing and at Benetas we are truly committed to delivering on quality of life for older Australians.