Is ‘Pass or Fail’ the best way to measure the quality of care delivered in aged care?

With the simple ‘pass or fail’ metrics of the aged care regulators’ quality standards as the only current government-approved indicator of care quality, organisations that provide exceptional service receive no distinction from those that barely meet the minimum standards of care.

As the aged care sector braces itself for the implementation of a star rating system, questions regarding how care quality will be measured moving forward, continue to rise to the fore. 

Prior to speaking at tomorrow’s Information Technology Across Care (ITAC) Conference, researcher and Associate Professor from the University of Queensland, Tracy Comans, sat down with HelloCare to discuss the measurement of quality care in aged care.

“You’ve got a concept that is qualitative in some aspects and experiential, but we’ve got to actually find ways that we can measure care that are robust and trustworthy, and that people understand.”

According to Professor Comans, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s current process of conducting quality and safety audits is ‘punitive’ in nature.

“I think it’s a good way to differentiate poor quality, it’s not a good way to differentiate good quality from exceptional quality,” she said.

The lack of acknowledgment for aged care providers that exceed minimum standards is something that needs to change according to Professor Comans, she also believes the implementation of industry benchmarking could help drive continuous improvement in the sector.

“If you’re looking at improving the overall sector, benchmarking is critical,” said Professor Comans.

“I think that we should have public reporting, but not everything has to be public. Ideally, we should look to move away from punitive measures and look to lift others up. We need a system that allows organisations to understand their performance relative to their peers.

“It’s also critically important to have access to information across the sector that is timely. Real-time data would allow people to understand what’s happening when it happens.”

Trailblazing aged-care-specific technology

The measuring of customer experience is thought by many to be the missing link in obtaining an accurate summation of the quality of care being delivered in the aged care sector.

While government has been slow on the uptake, with a focus on meeting minimum binary standards, Australian data-collection company, CarePage, has spent the last four-years working with providers to drive continuous improvement and overall quality of care through data collection and Voice of Resident insights. 

As one of the many innovative technologies on display at tomorrow’s ITAC Conference, CarePage chief executive officer (CEO), Lauren Todorovic, shared her thoughts on why evidence-based customer experience insights are essential to quality improvement in the aged care sector.

Professor Comans echoed the sentiment of Ms Todorovic.

“There are consumer experience surveys that are done, and that have been done nationally before, but they’re not done that often. So, the findings are not always timely. Currently, we have very limited things that are measured across the sector,” said Professor Comans.

When it comes to improving aged care quality, many experts believe that looking inwards is not enough.

The ability to compare performance against others in the sector allows providers to determine where improvements need to be made, and analyse how others are achieving high performance and make continuous quality improvements.

However, traditional benchmarking in aged care has focussed on clinical or financial data.

And benchmarking on customer experience data has largely been non-existent, despite the proven role of indicators of quality of life for residents in aged care.

As the only customer experience management system that includes industry-wide benchmarking, CarePage enables providers to gain competitive intelligence by comparing consumer experience indicators and satisfaction across the aged care customer journeys of their industry peers.

“Our clients can compare the performances of their aged care homes against key metrics such as quality standards, Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction and Consumer Experience Report Scores across the wider sector,” said Ms Todorovic.

“From our experience, these insights become a point of pride for homes that deliver exceptional care to their residents and a goal to aspire to for homes that are looking to improve.”

ITAC 2022 is being held at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, Sydney, from July 12 – 13. For more information or to register, head to the ITAC Conference website.

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