Standard 1 – Consumer Choice and Dignity is the bedrock for compliance under the new Aged Care Quality Standards (ACQS). It underpins and is linked to all the other standards. Meeting its requirements is paramount for compliance.
At its core, Standards 1 seeks to ensure good consumer experience, which occurs when an individual’s experience matches or exceeds their expectations. Providers must therefore understand what their model of care looks like for the consumer and tailor their interactions across the care journey with reference to predicted patterns of expectation.
Learnings from the healthcare sector
The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards which governs the compliance of the Healthcare sector has been in place for over 6 years. Standard 2 of the NSQHS – Partnering with Consumers, parallel’s Standard 1 of the ACQS.
While there are clear differences between the standards and its application, an area of learning which the healthcare sector provides us is in its definition of meeting consumer expectations.
The NSQHS defines consumer expectations as the anticipation that given events are likely to occur during, or as an outcome of, healthcare.
These expectations are sub-categorised as;
In general, consumer expectations of healthcare will be compared by consumers with their experience of what actually happened during their healthcare intervention, service or treatment.
This then influences their perception and satisfaction with that experience. For example, where healthcare exceeds expectations, increased satisfaction may be reported by consumers (and vice-versa).
The consumer journey in aged care is different to the healthcare sector, however the principles remain the same.
Exceeding consumer expectations
The consumer journey in aged care can be mapped as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Consumer journey in aged care
Good consumer experience occurs when an individual’s experience matches or exceeds their expectations across all interactions on the consumer journey.
Each provider will have its own policies and procedures for achieving this. However, if you are not already implementing these action – we recommend that you consider:
Handovers at the bedside
Other than the benefits in earlier detection of clinical deterioration, imagine the difference it makes to consumer satisfaction when the nurses completing the handover acknowledges the residents and says ‘hello Shirley, it was a pleasure looking after you today, Katrina will now be looking after you this afternoon and if you need anything please let her know.
Promoting health literacy
We believe that as consumers are better informed about their care and services, their expectations for the care provided will align with best practice. One example is the use of bedrails – the consumer expectation is “my mum used bed rails in the hospital and that will make her feel safe in aged care. Providers need to be able to explain the risks and associated mitigations in a language which
Consumer participation in strategic planning
One of our clients has implemented consumer participation in strategic planning through a national consumer advocate role and family and friend’s advocacy committee, held by an external member of the community. They speak to the benefit of this and how it has led to increased consumer engagement and participation.
As with most things, to improve performance requires setting baseline measures – we recommend the following tools:
From our experience the most successful organisations use multiple data sources and triangulate this data to build the full picture.
With increasing consumer and regulator expectations, providers must understand the consumer experience along their journey of interaction with a focus on, not just satisfying, but exceeding consumer expectations.