Aged Care Royal Commission: Recommendation 89 – “heartening”!

Working my way through the recently released Aged Care Royal Commission’s Final Report into Aged Care Quality & Safety, It was encouraging to read the recommendations for a rights-based approach to safe and quality aged care for people receiving or seeking care and for informal care-givers.

A rights-based approach recognises an entitlement to safe and quality care, placing the care recipient at the centre – as more than a passive subject, who might be expected to be grateful if they receive care, and agreeably accepting if they don’t. It is empowering and, whilst still recognising that we might be dependent on others for our care needs, lifts us out of the sort of relational dependency that can, too often, erode hope and lead to despondency. So that was good.

What I was also hoping to find, was any recommendation for greater recognition of aged care workers’ rights to sustainable employability, balancing the well-being and job requirements of aged care workforce members,* including rights to skills and career development, support, continuity, communication, reasonable staffing ratios, and a right to be respected and valued as a member of a vital and caring workforce.

Maybe these rights are taken as givens – so obvious that they don’t need to be mentioned. But I’m not so sure.

It seems to me that there may be appreciative and relational aspects to aged care workforce development which may be difficult to grasp because they are not always easy to articulate, and even less easy to measure. There is a need for aged care workforce assessment and development that doesn’t always start with, “The problem with the workforce is that…” . The problems may be real; but the solutions might sometimes be found in a different framing.

I was therefore heartened to read Commissioner Brigg’s recommendation (rec. 89) of a requirement for aged care providers’ governing bodies to adopt and implement a plan to manage and support staff training, professional development and continuous learning, staff feedback and engagement, and team building. And to see that it gets done quickly, the Commissioner proposed a July 2021 deadline.

I’m looking forward to reading the Government’s response. I hope they take it up. It’s a fair starting point. I’d like to see it elevated into an aged care workforce “right”. It’s one that would benefit everobody.

Andrew C. Wood

  • See BSI Standards PD ISO/TR 30406:2017.

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