Australia has an ageing population, which means that many older Australians may find themselves living in aged care facilities sooner or later. These facilities are tasked with providing a high quality of life for their residents – but just how is this determined? What actually constitutes quality in an aged care facility? Read on to find out.
Assessment and monitoring
Aged care providers are assessed against quality standards by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. The process of assessment includes visits to the aged care service (sometimes unannounced), feedback from care recipients, reviews of improvement plans, reporting against the standards and self-assessment by providers. This is to help ensure that aged care providers are providing a quality service by meeting certain standards.
Current quality indicators measure specific aspects of the quality of care found in aged care homes, and include:
- Pressure injuries (these can be greatly reduced by having effective care strategies in place).
- Use of physical restraint (as a restraint-free environment is recommended for aged care facilities).
- Unplanned weight loss (monitoring this sign gives facilities information about how their processes are working and highlights areas that need improvement).
Monitoring these indicators helps providers improve their care and services, and provide a quality service to residents.
To find more about the new aged care quality standards, click here.
But quality is about more than just meeting standards, however. There are many quality indicators for aged care facilities that cannot be measured or assessed academically. Some of the more intangible (but just as important) signals of a quality aged care provider are more about consumer experience and levels of satisfaction. Here are some of the most important.
The importance of good food in aged care cannot be underestimated. Enriching, nutritious and high-quality food becomes more and more important as people get older. Food and nutrition have a major role to play in health and wellness in aged care. Food is what people look forward to at the end of the day – and it needs to be plentiful and full of flavour as well as nutritious. Meals in aged care should be fresh, varied and tasty – and should provide opportunities for residents to interact and belong.
When you have no choice in what food you eat, it needs to be more than just satisfactory, as great food adds significantly to the quality of life in aged care.
A homelike environment
Older Australians want to live in an environment where they feel comfortable and at home – and not to feel like they are living in an institution. The best aged care facilities are those that make their residents feel like they are living in their own home, with the appropriate facilities and choices that this entails.
Staff who maintain a high level of personal care and interaction are considered a great indicator of a quality aged care service. Aged care residents have a strong need for positive connections with others, and that includes the people they are likely to see most often – the staff. A quality facility will provide staff who are good at their jobs and good at interacting with people who are often frail and vulnerable. They should have a positive attitude and be able to build trusting relationships with those in their care. And most importantly – they should like old people.
A safe and secure environment
Aged care providers must provide an environment where residents are safe and secure, and are free from neglect, abuse and restrictive practices. This kind of safe and positive culture is essential for quality of life in aged care.
Maintaining dignity and choice
Older people in aged care have the right to feel valued and respected, and to exercise choice. No-one wants their power to make decisions for themselves taken away, or their dignity to be abused. Aged care residents need to feel that they are valued and important, and to maintain a sense of independence where possible.
Access to pets and the outdoors
Having access to pets and animals in aged care has been shown to have many positive effects for older people. From improving physical activity levels and increasing social interaction, to providing calming and stress-relief effects, pets undoubtedly improve the quality of life for aged care residents.
In a similar vein, having access to outdoor spaces is associated with a better quality of life in aged care facilities. Access to both private and community outdoor spaces promotes engagement in a range of activities that can improve physical, mental and social and emotional wellbeing.
Good clinical care
This is another important aspect of quality aged care, as medical conditions tend to multiply as people get older. Good medical management is important in giving aged care residents high quality of life.
Quality in aged care
Quality in aged care is something everyone wants, as ensuring the safety, wellbeing and quality of life for older Australians is extremely important. Older Australians have the right to nothing less than the highest standards of quality and care – after all, they have often spent their whole lives working for and caring for others. In this final phase of their lives, quality has never been more important. When choosing an aged care provider, make sure it meets both the tangible and intangible quality standards – to ensure you or your loved one are receiving the best care possible.
For more on how to know if you’ve found a good aged care facility, click here.