Yes, Donna let me use a song one more time in this week’s blog, and as it’s actually related to the series we recently completed on the new Aged Care Standards, it seems only right. This time, it’s a tune from one of the legendary greats!

Diana Ross lamented:
‘Stop in the Name of Love
Before you Break my Heart
Stop…Think it Over

And that’s what I am asking you to do before you rush off and re-write your policies and procedures, or pay a lot of money for something that doesn’t meet the needs of your organisation.

Do you need to rewrite your policies and procedures?

I know you want to make sure that your policy manual aligns to the new Aged Care Quality Standards and that’s great – but I’ve seen a few manuals popping up lately that appear to be solely focussed on matching the Standards. Some examples appear to be using the consumer statement as the policy statement and then replicating the Standard requirements as procedures or actions.

It’s not that we don’t believe in the need to align or map your policies to the new Standards – as that’s exactly what we have been doing in the suite of policies and procedures that we have reviewed and re-written for the CDCS Total Quality Package resource hub.

It’s just that we don’t want you to make the mistake of writing your policies simply to MEET the new Standards and NOT address your organisation requirements.

That’s like buying a road map for Melbourne when you live in Sydney. That Melbourne map will be great for the one trip you make every two years to visit Great Aunt Ethel, but it’s not going to be much use to you when you are trying to navigate your way around the Sydney CBD. You need a working document that is going to be useful to you on a regular basis.

Let me explain further.

Firstly, let’s review the difference between a Policy and a Procedure.

A Policy is a statement of position – it’s what the organisation believes about a subject – the stance they take and why.

For example, in your organisation’s policy on Diversity and Cultural Safety, the first statement might read something like:
“Our organisation seeks to actively manage and promote diversity and inclusion across the organisation to eliminate discrimination and inequality for both clients and staff.”

The procedure is ‘how’ the organisation plans to achieve the stated Policy.

For the above example, this might include:

Actions at the Management level:
“Management will review organisation practices against the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander action plan for providers, incorporating identified actions aimed at addressing gaps into the organisation’s strategic plan.”

Actions at the service delivery level:
“Staff will contribute to service delivery, including client care planning and review, providing relevant cultural insight where required.”

Policies and procedures are documents that are particularly important in guiding your organisation when planning and operating a quality service. They are living documents that are active and are most useful when they reflect actual practice rather than focussing solely on attempting to meet or pass a quality review.

When the Quality auditors are reviewing your service, they will be looking for evidence of how your staff use the policies and procedures, the staff's understanding of them, and how they are put into practice.

Designing your policies and procedures specifically on the new Aged Care Standards is not helpful in operating an effective program. The Standards were designed to be a framework to support aspects of quality and encourage desirable outcomes, not reflect your day-to-day activities.

It’s better to write your policy and then map to the Standards.

Why do I say that?

Well, let’s look at the policy described above: Diversity and Cultural Safety – what Standard would it relate to?

Standard One talks about consumer dignity and choice, and requirement 3a states: ‘Each consumer is treated with dignity and respect with their identity, culture and diversity valued’, so obviously the policy supports this Standard.

But wait there’s more…

When we wrote this policy and then mapped it against the Standards, we discovered that the policy supported a number of Standards.

Standard Two covers assessment and planning with consumers and to effectively meet this standard for someone from a CALD or Indigenous background, you may need to include the use of interpreters to ‘effectively communicate’ with the client.

Standard Three is all about personal and clinical care. If you want to meet the consumer outcome of ‘providing care that is safe and right for them’, you may need to employ staff of a particular gender. Or ensure your staff are trained in supporting a person who identifies as being from a LGBTIQ background.

Standard Five covers the service environment. A well thought-out centre acknowledges diversity and cultural safety, which supports clients to feel ‘safe and comfortable’.

And then Standard Seven is all about human resources and of course, this relates directly to a policy that discusses respecting and supporting diversity and cultural safety both for the staff member and the consumer.

So think it over – what should you do instead?

Do you need to rewrite all your policies?

Look at your existing policies. Can you amend the wording to better reflect the new Standards? Can you map the existing policy to the new Standards with minor amendments?

But what if it’s a total or substantial rewrite, perhaps you haven’t reviewed these for a number of years. Do your policies have outdated references? What do you do then?

Here are some ideas to consider:

Write your policies and procedures to reflect your organisation, its position on any particular issue and the procedure you use to meet your stated policy.

A good policy needs to be specific, focussed, and detail what is acceptable and what is not. Make your policies and procedures practical and reflect what you actually do.

Incorporate elements and the language of the new Standards into your policies and procedures, for example:
‘The organisation attracts and retains people who are knowledgeable, capable and caring.

‘Our organisation acknowledges that effective management of the physical service environment is an important aspect of supporting the safe delivery of aged care services and providing a welcoming space for clients that is culturally safe.

Remember that annoying child that was always asking ‘why’? Like that child, the reader of a policy wants to know ‘why do you want me to do this in this way’. Including the why or rationale is important – it can be woven into the your policy statement or be a separate introductory statement that helps the reader understand why you are asking them to follow a particular course of action.

And if all this seems like a lot of work, then head on over to the CDCS Resource Hub. This includes a full, customisable policy and procedure suite, amongst other highly sought-after resources for managing your aged care service.

Ready to make your job that much less stressful? Want access to resources that will support you, your staff and your clients? Click here to start working smarter, happier and more efficiently.

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