Contrary to common practice, the United Nations has not declared 2018 as the year for anything in particular, so that gives all of us the opportunity to dedicate 2018 to something meaningful that we can work towards.
I’m not saying that past ‘International Years’ have not been relevant – they have highlighted areas and issues of importance, leading to vast numbers of people and businesses focussing on making a positive change to our world, and that’s great. This year, we can choose the area that we focus on, something that can make a difference in our own community, in our lives, and for the people we work with.
At CDCS, we work with organisations who provide care and support to the frail aged and people with a disability. So for CDCS, I am declaring 2018:
The ‘Year of Quality Care for All’.
Of course that immediately raises the question of ‘what is quality care?’
I believe that quality care is determined by the individual.
- Some people will see quality care as simply receiving timely care and support in a way that meets their essential needs.
- Another person will view quality care as someone or something that helps them to achieve a defined re-ablement goal.
- Yet another will understand quality as having the opportunity to take full control over how and when their care and support is delivered, negotiating hours and prices with service providers.
But none of these necessarily demonstrate quality care any better than the other; it comes down to the individual’s perception and desires. If we truly want to embrace the idea of Consumer Directed Care, then we need to recognise and respond to the desires of the individual when planning and providing their care.
So why the confusion and how do we address this?
Of course we can only ever really understand things from our point of view. This can lead to an imbalance in the way we operate when supporting other people.
We believe that something is done the right way because, for us, this is the correct way to carry out that task. I remember being taken to task for hanging out the washing in my usual slap-dash fashion by my husband in our newly-wed days; he had a particular way of hanging out the clothes so that they didn’t require ironing (and don’t get me started on the folding techniques). My way wasn’t necessarily wrong, but didn’t meet his expected standards. Needless to say, he does the washing and folding to this day (yay!).
Similarly, we sometimes think that others should view quality the same way that we do. However culture, upbringing, life experiences, educational background, health status and current situation are just a few things that impact on the perspective of an individual.
Here at CDCS we believe that the recognition of all these factors is an important part of providing quality care, and we know a lot of you reading this post believe the same. However, we also know that it can be a struggle for some remote, indigenous services because of the different backgrounds between key staff members and consumers as well as the language barrier. What to do?
Well, we might have the answer.
Two years ago we were contracted by the Commonwealth Government to run a series of workshops through the Northern Territory to support organisations in understanding Consumer Directed Care; this included preparing for the introduction of the Home Care Package program. At the workshops, it became clear that while many services understood the need to provide Consumer Directed Care, they had difficulty in conveying the concept to consumers and local staff due cultural and language barriers, especially in areas where literacy was low.
In addition to this, the provision of individualised budgets and statements was a great idea for those who were ready to embrace the concept of self-management of their care, however, it created confusion in remote areas where financial literacy was low. This resulted in a number of organisations paying lip-service only to the idea of Consumer Directed Care.
A possible solution
Taking the feedback from these workshops, CDCS approached the Commonwealth Government and were successful in obtaining funding through the Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund to develop a visual care planning and budgeting App. Now currently in the testing phase, we hope to have a cost effective tool available for services to download and use by mid 2018.
This is just one way that CDCS can contribute to working with services to improve the quality of care in a constructive and individualised way.
So how about you?
Join us in making 2018 the ‘Year of Quality Care for All’!