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Aged Care Standard 7 and the need for a skilled and supportive workforce

 

Human resources are the major asset and expenditure of most organisations. How staff are selected, supported, and managed is critical to how they practice and how they care. The quality of the care of older Australians in receipt of aged care services relies on the skills, capabilities, and attitudes of the staff who provide their care. This In Focus article highlights Standard 7: Human resources and the palliAGED resources that can help you and your aged care organisation.

 

Standard 7: Human Resources

Aged organisations and services need to have and use a skilled and qualified workforce to meet the needs of their clients and residents. Management has a critical role to play as does the workforce that provides the service to and interaction with the older person.

There are four key aspects relating to Human Services as a standard:

  • Sufficiency of the workforce
  • Attributes, attitude, and performance of the workforce
  • Organisational support for the workforce
  • Assessment, monitoring, and review.

 

Standard 7 Icon - Feedback and complaints

"I get quality care and services when I need them from people who are knowledgeable, capable and caring."

Consumer outcome statement for Aged Care Standard 7. Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website. The use of this image does not constitute an endorsement by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission of palliAGED activities.

Staff, skills, and caring at the end of life

Older people who are coming to the end of their life require sensitive, supportive, and skilled care. A number of people may be involved of providing care depending on the person’s individual needs so coordination of care is important. Communication is also fundamental to the experience of end of life and must include communication between the older person and the care team, between members of the care team, and with the family and others providing informal care to the older person.

Many staff may not feel confident about caring for older people at the end of life and care of a dying person. Organisations need to help them gain knowledge and skills and support their self-care as well.

 

"The organisation has a workforce that is sufficient, and is skilled and qualified to provide safe, respectful and quality care and services."


Organisation statement for Aged Care Standard 7. Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website. The use of this image does not constitute an endorsement by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission of palliAGED activities.

COVID-19 and providing care

Care for older people in the COVID-19 context will need to recognise that care may need to be provided for older people who are at end of life, those with specific palliative care needs, and those who may acquire COVID-19. Many aspects of activity in aged care and palliative care are affected by the COVID-19 environment. There is information on COVID-19 generally in the CareSearch COVID-19 Hub and specific information about aged care and COVID-19 in the palliAGED COVID-19 pages.

palliAGED resources for Standard 7

Standard 7 indicates that organisations need to have a skilled and qualified workforce which is able to deliver safe and quality care. Staff caring for older people coming to the end of their life may have learning, support and practice needs. There are a range of palliAGED resources that can provide information and support knowledge and training. Many of these resources include learning opportunities for careworkers and nursing staff and organisational suggestions.

A diverse workforce

People employed in the aged care setting provide care for many older Australians at the end-of-life. Care staff have a diverse range of skills that can meet the palliative care needs of residents and clients. Some staff have very specific responsibilities in the provision of care to the person and support for their families. The Practice Roles pages in palliAGED outline some of the roles and tasks different staff members carry out that are relevant to end of life.

Recognition of palliative care needs

Staff need to understand that an older person may now be in the last months of life and require additional care and supports. The palliAGED Practice Tips provide an overview of palliative care issues and information on symptom and specific needs. There are Practice Tips for Nurses and Practice Tips for Careworkers.

Communication and end of life

Good communication is important in all care processes. However, good communication with the older person, their family and carers, and within the care team is critical in a palliative care context. Staff can check out a range of practice options and managers can review evidence summaries and organisational supports. The following palliAGED webpages can assist staff and managers in supporting good communication:

Education and Training

A National Palliative Care Workforce Development Framework has been developed and an action plan is also underway through the Palliative Care Education and Training Collaborative, Queensland University of Technology. palliAGED has a database of education and training resources and a tool that can help staff select learning options. This can support individual CPD or in-house training activities. Aged care can also make use of the palliAGED Practice Tips.

Encouraging self-care

Caring for people who are dying can cause stress and lead to burnout. Recognising that caring for older people generally includes caring for people who may die is an important first step in managing this stress.

 

Read some of our Palliative Perspectives blogs related to aged care and end of life:

Australia must improve palliative care for people with dementia

Palliative care for people living with dementia should be available when and where it is needed.

Palliative Care Queensland uses palliAGED Practice Tip Sheets to begin conversations

Training residential aged care staff is important to support their knowledge to ensure excellent palliative care to their residents.

A Common Set of ELDAC Clinical Tools

The ELDAC project has identified 12 commonly used clinical tools useful when caring for older people, with palliative care needs.

 

Designed effective palliative care education

Education and training of the health workforce are essential to enhance the capacity of health professionals to deliver a palliative care approach.

palliAGED Practice Tips: easy-to-read and evidence-based palliative care resources

Many people working in aged care are faced with challenges of not knowing what to do for someone in their care.

 

Making sense of care at the end of life: The ELDAC Care Model

A framework can help aged care staff and services to consider and manage key issues in the last phase of life when a person progresses toward death.

Page created 04 May 2020