Two weeks ago I fractured a rib; somewhat painful and an injury I could have done without.

Explaining the situation to Carrie, all I had to say was “horse”, backed up by the “don’t worry, I’m okay, really… I can still sit and type – I just can’t sneeze, cough, bend down, roll over, get in and out of bed without cursing or breathing deeply…”

You see I’ve been riding horses since I was about 3 years old. Horses are one of my greatest passions and in my (fast approaching) 50 years on this planet, I’ve taken a tumble or three and sustained a couple of broken bones, scrapes and bruises along the way. I protect myself by always wearing a safety helmet, as I’m very conscious of ensuring the safety of myself, my horse and that of others around me.

So what’s this got to do with Aged Care and you out there as a Manager, CEO or support worker?

Well, it’s really a story of two horses – two contexts and two approaches that very much mirror what the aged care sector is going through right now.

Fourteen years ago, I bought ‘Prince’ at an auction. He had been bred and raised on a cattle station east of Alice Springs. Prince is 17-hand high (that’s BIG as far as horses go) and is a thoroughbred cross. At four years old he had been lightly handled and I was essentially his first ‘new’ human.

Woman riding a brown horse jumping over fences.

Fourteen years ago, I had more time. My two kids were four and two year olds, I was living close to my parents and family, and I was only working part time. I had a good few years of being able to focus on working with Prince, establishing a good foundation and building a solid relationship and understanding with him.

That was in 2006, and the luxury of time that I had to spend with Prince back then is very reminiscent of the pace of change that the aged care sector had at that time as well.

Sure there were some changes on the horizon for the Home and Community Care (HACC) and Package Care Program (CACP). Residential care was seeing minor tweaks, but nothing on the scale of today’s requirements, like the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (NQI), changes to Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI)  and increasing regulation, along with the wholesale reform including the introduction and implementation of My Aged Care and the intake process, a new set of Quality Aged Care Standards and Framework and the Charter of Aged Care Rights. Just to name a few!

Fast forward to now, from 2006 to 2020.

Prince is still going strong. He’s dependable and done just about everything you can imagine. He’s experienced, knowledgeable, able to respond confidently with change and excellent in a crisis.

The New Boy on the Block

Two years ago, I ‘found’ Bobby, who was approximately six years old and had no real education. He’d been sitting in a paddock since he was a four year old, with little investment put into his education or training. I remember the vet who checked him over before I bought him saying, “he’s got promise, but will have a few issues to work through…” Hmm, in hindsight I should have run a mile. But my daughter liked him and he had a look in his eye that I couldn’t resist.

Woman riding light brown horse.

Turns out he has quite a bit of ‘baggage’!

And yes, it was while riding Bobby that I broke my rib. He got spooked and just couldn’t handle the pressure. As a result, even with years of experience, I just wasn’t fast enough.

Bobby is a lot like the some of the providers in the industry at the moment: overwhelmed.

  • Surrounded by new things, new experiences
  • Being asked to do things he hasn’t done before, with new expectations placed on him
  • Coming up against new rules and obstacles
  • Not having people around him, me included, to hold his hand (or hoof) at every step and guide him constantly
  • And in this fast paced age, no one having the luxury to devote time to repetition and re-assurance

Does this sound a little familiar?

For any new or even experienced player in the Aged Care sector, you gotta admit the rate of change, albeit a lot of it for the better, has been daunting and exhausting.

Just when you think you have one thing handled and ticked off, like explaining the new Aged Care Charter to all your clients, along comes new reporting platforms (sometimes ones that don’t always align with your existing data processes), requirements such as grandfathering CHSP clients, developing new pricing schedules for Home Care Packages, as well as coping with changes to income testing, the funding instrument, Medicare claiming processes… Do I hear a collective “argghhh!?”

Spoiler Alert – there’s more change coming this year too!

We’ve been hearing from a lot of service providers lately, even those with very experienced management teams and capable people, saying:

  • “we’re worried we won’t be fully compliant if a quality review or unannounced visit happens”
  • “we just can’t find the time to do this (change/update) without help”
  • “I have to take my admin staff offline for weeks just to get ‘that' done”
  • “the training we get is so limited, or not meeting our needs”
  • “staff can’t keep up with the complexity of the reforms”
  • “we need policies and procedures that actually tell us what we need to do and how, not just to tick a box”

So what’s the answer?

In reflecting on my challenges with Bobby, I have taken some of the advice that I give to service providers and people at the coal face of the Aged and Disability system. I reached out for help – but not just any kind of help. I found a trainer, a mentor, someone who I like and trust and whose values align with mine. He’s giving me the tools I need to make a difference.

Perhaps that’s what you need if you’re struggling with your own Bobby.

If you’re looking for resources that can support your team in addressing the changes and challenges that the current reform process is throwing up, then take a look at the CDCS Total Quality Package resource hub. We have been working with a variety of service providers over the past year to develop tools that meet industry requirements, that help you become or remain compliant against the Standards and that make your job just that little bit easier and help you stay ‘in the saddle’.

Go on, check them out – you know want to!

Bobby says “go check out the Resource Hub!”
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