What makes Great Aged Care?

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Aged care is now characterised as a competitive market that responds to a growing demand from users of services. Flexibility, control, choice and terms of receiving services drive standard of practice. Yet, all the same, consumers still expect quality care services, and rightly so.

And within this industry norm, MACS’ staff must show that they are competent on a number of performance levels. These competencies necessarily encompass MACS’ values of diversity, dignity, integrity, respect and empowerment. It’s certainly a quality measure and it’s been solidly embedded in the MACS’ work practices over many years. Care at MACS is not left up to any ad hoc application or a meaningless parroting of jargon that jostle to meet quality standards.

In general, there are a number of discussions touted by the aged care industry, training organisations and career gurus about the important traits that a caregiver should have. These include responsibility and understanding what that really means and generating trust in the older person.  Then there is a “caring nature” that comes with kind, thoughtful gestures, promoting safety and security in the older person. Along with having the flexibility to attend to individual needs of that person.

And yes, the traits of being patient and supportive are required for great caregiving and support to the older person and their family. These are crucial for boosting independence, a sense of well-being and self-esteem.

But when it comes to a trait like showing respect for another person, it may well be that this does not come naturally to some. Being able to validate another person comes with awareness and practice—especially if a care worker may not have, or ever have had an idea of validation and respect on his or her radar.

MACS ensures that the value of respect isn’t left up to chance. It’s a clear departure away from the position of “Are you respectful enough?” which can be relative, nebulous and not truly effective in practice. When it gets down to it, aged care staff must be respectful whatever it takes.

As a guide, the competency grid is something that can be clearly envisaged by both Home Services and Residential staff. For the competencies and values are underpinned by the Charter of Care Recipient’s Rights and Responsibilities, determined by the Aged Care Act and the Schedules 1 & 2 User Rights Principles. A service user would expect to live with dignity and respect without discrimination or victimisation; have their individual preferences and cultural and religious practices also treated with respect. https://agedcare.health.gov.au

Great aged care at MACS happens too as staff are well supported to have a long-term career in aged care. Stability of staff is crucial with only 2% of turnover in staff achieved. For instance, trained personal carers and leisure and health teams are regularly up-skilled in the identified skills gaps. These might include areas of dementia, palliative care, clinical care, effective communication to name a few.

MACS’ capable registered nurses and enrolled nurses lead the MACS’ care teams. They oversee the delivery of compassionate and professional clinical care, continually developing their knowledge and skill base in the identified crucial areas. And a number of these senior nurses hold tertiary qualifications in senior management. They may bring their skills from sub-acute or acute health care environments or have extensive experience in aged care. They keep raising the bar in innovation and skill, improving the quality of life of MACS’ care recipients.

At MACS, learning from others is encouraged and practiced with tolerance and persistence. It happens through mentoring or through the offered education opportunities based on current and relevant information. This allows excellence in care to breathe and flourish.

Jennifer Lohan in Karen Keast’s What makes a good nurse great comments on the right attribute balance to be a great nurse. She says, “One part of it is you have got to have compassion and empathy and a strong sense of humour and you have to be dedicated,” Then she claims self-reflection on practice can follow. https://healthtimes.com.au/hub/nursing-careers/6/guidance/kk1/what-makes-a-good-nurse-great/463/

But all the same, education doesn’t dilute the caring part out of the great care matrix. It is informed care that provides attention to the smallest of details for the care recipient. After all, it is the care recipient who comes first in person-centered care. At the same time, it can raise service user’s confidence, self-esteem and well-being, springing from the pulse of personal control, respect and dignity.

For a person-centred rather than task-centred approach to care allows for recognition of the whole person. It includes respecting the value of that person’s previous history and experience as well as their present worth as an adult human being.  We need to have a sound ethical framework to provide good quality care that goes hand-in-hand with the protection of service user rights.

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