Residential aged care hasn’t always received the priority it deserves in terms of staff training and development.
However, as Alderslade (2020) points out, the updated Aged Care Quality Standards along with new service compliance ratings are now bringing much-needed change to the landscape of staff training in the aged care sector.
Along with the introduction of these standards, aged care education and training and aged care reporting are more important than ever as a way to bring staff up to date with the latest requirements. It’s also why educational standards form such an important feature of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (2020).
Why Does Reporting Matter?
Accurate reporting is key to maintaining compliance within aged care. It’s not just about the need to maintain adequate record-keeping, it’s also about the willingness to demonstrate best practice relating to aged care training and seeing education as a practical route to achieve that, rather than just another assignment to be completed.
Moving beyond the who, what, when and where of education, accurate reporting also plays a crucial role in performance review and management. For example, it allows approved providers to easily monitor the training records of employees and identify training gaps amongst key workers. Building on the Aged Care Act 1997, The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (2020) now requires that all aged care service providers produce evidence of their compliance with eight fundamental standards of service.
Reporting by Standards
Key to achieving these new and updated quality standards is the ability to align training outcomes with each of the following eight specific standards:
Mandatory training topics, such as elder abuse, need to be linked to each of the relevant standards and presented across the board to all staff regardless of their level of education. Again, as a safety check to ensure each standard is adequately understood and implemented, approved providers must be able to demonstrate that they:
Understand the requirement;
Can demonstrate they have applied the requirement;
Monitor how they are applying the requirement and the outcomes they achieve; and
Review outcomes and adjust their practices based on these reviews to keep improving
Accessibility and Reliability of Reporting
Reliability, accuracy and accessibility to generate and retrieve reports are three crucial requirements for organisations trying to maintain high educational standards. In practice, this often comes down to the quality of the training program being used by the approved provider. Training providers who use manual methods of reporting or underdeveloped learning management systems often run into difficulties accessing key reporting metrics. For example, the compliance rate of individual staff, the compliance rate across different facilities, or the amount of total training that has been completed by an entire team or organisation all need to be reported and updated over time.
Another common challenge is finding reliable ways to demonstrate links between organisations’ training reports and their relevance to the applicable training standard. Recognising these challenges, the Ausmed Learning Management System (LMS) allows education and training providers to easily manage all of their training and compliance needs in one place. The platform also has the benefit of built-in quality standards that quickly show how much training has been done according to each of the applicable standards.
Taking Reporting Further
So, what does the future of compliance mean in practice? To help answer this, the New World Kirkpatrick Model of Training offers four clearly defined levels of training that go beyond the traditional methods of recording participant attendance (Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick 2020):
Level 1: Reaction
This level describes the degree to which staff find their education and training engaging and relevant to their job. It also offers a measure of participant attendance and engagement and allows learners the opportunity to assess how relevant the training is to their real-life working experiences.
Level 2: Learning
At this level, the degree to which staff actually acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment is assessed based on their participation in the training.
In practice, levels one and two of the Kirkpatrick Model are easily achieved, but to adequately achieve the new aged care quality standards, levels three and four of the New World Kirkpatrick Model also need to be embraced.
Level 3: Behaviour
At this level, there needs to be some assessment of the degree to which participants apply what they have learnt during training whilst they are actively engaged in a caring role.
Level 4: Results
In the view of Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick (2020), the ultimate goal of training is to achieve targeted outcomes that directly result from any training, support and accountability packages. However, many approved providers find it challenging to provide the required evidence that their training packages actually achieve the goal of improved quality of care. It’s a challenge that needs to be addressed as auditing standards relating to the training are increasingly likely to require this sort of data. In practice, this may mean greater time needs to be given to reflective learning and open discussion about how to implement best practice.
A Global Imperative
As Caughey and Lang et al. (2020) suggest, improving the quality and safety of care for older people living in aged care settings is a key imperative for national health and social care systems throughout the world. In conducting background research for the Royal Commission Into Aged Care Quality and Safety, eleven countries including Australia and the United Kingdom were identified with indicators for aged care quality and safety monitoring systems. In total, 305 quality and safety indicators for residential aged care were identified and this ultimately led to the eight updated quality standards in aged care reporting that exist today.
The result is updated and relevant evidence-based standards of care with improved outcomes for the most vulnerable members of society, and as Alderslade (2020) points out, the improved transparency that this brings can only be a good thing.