In order to maintain the highest standards, the Department of Health and Aged Care introduced the Code of Conduct in Aged Care, which will be formally implemented on the 1st of December, 2022.
Find out what this code covers and how it will help maintain the quality of life for elderly Australians.
What is the Code of Conduct in Aged Care?
According to the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care, the Code of Conduct for Aged Care (Code) was developed, “to give older Australians receiving aged care more confidence in the workforce assisting them.”
The code aims to ensure that aged care workers are held to a high standard of conduct at all times. Along with the Charter of Aged Care Rights, this is one of several measures the department has in place to ensure elderly Australians in aged care are provided with the highest quality service.
Who is covered by the aged care Code of conduct?
The code is aimed to cover the behaviour of aged care providers, their governing persons (e.g. board members and Chief Executive Officers) and aged care workers.
Pricipally, it covers all workers who care for senior Australians across the country. This includes the staff of residential aged care facilities, home care workers, and aged care supervisors.
What are the Eight Standards of Aged Care?
In order to maintain quality in aged care, be it home care or an aged care home, My Aged Care has created the Eight Standards of Aged Care.
The eight standards are:
- Consumer dignity and choice: This ensures elderly Australians are treated with dignity and respect, and to maintain their identity. They can make informed choices about their care and services and live the life they choose.
- Ongoing assessment and planning: Elderly Australians should be seen as partners in ongoing assessment and planning that helps them get the care and services they need for their health and well-being.
- Personal care and clinical care: Every individual should be able to get personal care, clinical care, or both personal care and clinical care that is safe and right for them.
- Services and supports for daily living: Services and supports for daily living that are important for every elderly Australians’ health and well-being and that enable them to do the things they want to do should be provided.
- Organisation’s service environment: Elderly individuals should feel they belong and are safe and comfortable in the organisation’s service environment.
- Feedback and complaints: Every elderly Australian should feel safe, encouraged, and supported to give feedback and make complaints. They should be engaged in processes to address their feedback and complaints, and appropriate action is taken.
- Human resources: All seniors should receive quality care and services when they need them from people who are knowledgeable, capable, and caring.
- Organisational governance: Elderly Australians can be confident the organisation involved with their care is well run. They should be treated as partners in improving the delivery of care and services.
What should a written code of ethics for an aged care service contain?
As shared by careworkers.org.au, a Code of Ethics goes hand in hand with a code of conduct.
Relevant to all care workers, the care workers’ Code of Ethics is to ensure that the members of the community are:
- supported, respected and valued
- empowered to exercise their personal, maximum autonomy
- able to contribute and participate to the full extent of their ability
- protected from exploitation, abuse, and discrimination
The Care Workers’ code of ethics upholds:
- Every individual’s inherent worth and their right to:
- exercise autonomy to the extent of their ability
- participate and make meaningful contributions
- live and work in safe environments
- ethical management of their personal information
- protection against exploitation, abuse, and discrimination.
An aged care provider may have its own separate code of ethics, which will cover all staff, executives, and managers.
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What are an aged care provider’s responsibilities in relation to the Code of Conduct?
It is the responsibility of approved aged care providers to treat those in their care in a manner consistent with the Code. Along with this, they are also expected to ensure that other workers in their field including governing persons do the same.
According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, an aged care provider’s duties may include:
- providing training
- making sure policies and procedures are easily accessible
- taking action to make sure to meet the Code
What can the Commission do?
As the body responsible for governing the Code, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are responsible for maintaining and enforcing the code.
If the commission has reason to believe a party is failing to comply with the Code, they have the power to take action.
While there are protections implemented to allow any individual accused of breaching the Code the opportunity to respond, enforcement actions may be severe.
The Commission has been granted a range of actions all the way up to banning a current or former aged care worker from working in aged care again. They may even revoke Code-Approved status from a provider that fails to comply.
Why is a Code of Conduct important for a care worker?
The Code is very important to care workers for several reasons.
First, it is the standard to which they must adhere. It outlines the minimum quality of care and standard of behaviour that they must reach.
Next, if they do not comply with the Code, there may be disciplinary consequences. All aged care workers need to be aware of the Code and their expected level of performance or face possible banning from the industry.
What is the difference between the Code of Conduct and the Code of Practice in aged care?
In 2021, the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council launched the Voluntary Industry Code of Practice.
While the Code of Practice and the Code of Conduct have a lot of crossovers, there are a few differences.
The main difference is that the Code of Practice is voluntary. While being approved by the Code of Practice is a positive sign for an aged care facility, a lack of Code of Practice approval does not mean the facility is not still high quality. Non-compliance with the Code of Conduct, on the other hand, is a very bad sign.
All the same, the Code of Practice is another sign of an industry that is working hard to be the very best for those vulnerable elderly Australians in their care.
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