The aged care sector continues to face significant and evolving challenges as it responds to the public health emergency posed by COVID-19.
It is no secret that the pandemic has resulted in new and unprecedented challenges for the aged care industry. Aged care compliance officers must act swiftly and take proactive steps; to make sure that their facility and organisation is responding to the risks to residents and staff. They also need to ensure that the entire company is compliant with government policy and regulations.
The need for an aged care compliance officer, specialising in COVID risk management has never been greater. It is the top priority of all Australian aged care providers and aged care compliance officers. They are required to assess and evaluate their performance against the Aged Care Quality Standards.
But what exactly do these they do? Why is there a sudden increase in demand for aged care compliance officers and why are they important now?
Responsibilities of regular compliance officers
Let us understand the day-to-day responsibilities of a compliance officer to get a good grasp of their different roles.
A non-aged care compliance officer needs to ensure a company functions in a legal and ethical manner all while hitting its business goals. Along with ensuring that their company complies with government and global regulations, compliance officers also need to make sure that their employees and colleagues are following internal company policies.
They are also responsible for developing compliance programs, reviewing company policies, and advising management on possible risks. They advise the company’s leadership team on any actions that should be changed or implemented.
In many companies, management expects the compliance officer to act as a partner and to help drive strategies that are compliant. Compliance officers are not necessary for all industries but are often found in healthcare and banking. They must have an intuitive knowledge of the company’s culture and goals in order to excel in this profession.
Responsibilities of aged care compliance officers
With a clearer understanding of what regular compliance officers do, let us take a look at the responsibilities of their aged care counterparts!
Aged care compliance officers have similar job scopes to their counterparts. However, their responsibilities are more skewed towards the aged care industry; which has a lot of compliance regulations for aged care providers.
All aged care providers in Australia are required to meet Federal and State regulations and standards. This is so that states can ensure that aged care providers protect and maintain the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of people in aged care.
Aged care compliance officers are crucial as aged care providers need to ensure that they are compliant with all restrictions to ensure the safety and health of their residents and staff. Not only do they need to make sure that their organisation is 100% compliant with State and Federal regulations, but they also need to ensure that they are also compliant with the Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission’s standards of care.
Further, there are many different codes of aged care practice that they have to be aware of. With so many things to juggle, they cannot afford to jeopardise the public health and safety of residents and staff.
Australian aged care compliance can be checked through a mix of quality assessments, reviews and consumer feedback. In the case where an Australian aged care provider fails to meet its compliance requirements, the Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission will take action. Therefore, it is crucial for all aged care compliance officers to have compliance requirements in mind and ensure that their organisation is always compliant.
Aged care compliance officers have other responsibilities as well.
A big part of ensuring that their organisation is compliant, is to ensure that their team is educated as well. Aged care compliance officers need to take care of manpower and ensure manpower is trained.
Just like their counterparts, they are responsible for developing training programs to ensure that the staff are carrying out compliant practices. These training programs are typically carried out every 3 months but may be more frequent with the onset of COVID-19.
As aged care staff may or may not be requested to use personal protection equipment (PPE) depending on the state regulations, aged care compliance officers have to educate themselves and the staff on the appropriate use in order to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. Not only do staff need to be educated on the use of PPE, but they also need to be educated on the safe distancing practices that they have to adhere to.
Overall, they need to have a hands-on approach in educating their staff to stay compliant.
Internal Compliance and risk management
They also need to work closely with the management team to assess risk and come up with internal compliance policies. While compliance with state and federal regulations are important, they also need to make sure that aged care organisations are compliant with internal guidelines.
Internal compliance guidelines can include:
- Making it compulsory for staff to wash their hands between each different resident that they attend to.
- Ensuring that all residents be at least 1.5m away from each other.
- Limiting staff to working in one location without doing shifts in another location.
They also need to advise management on the organisation’s compliance with laws and regulations through detailed reports. With COVID-19 outbreaks happening sporadically in Australia, it is important for them to provide the management team with updates and reports on everything going on in the facility.
Why they are important now
With COVID-19, there are two important risk factors that aged care providers face. Firstly, there is an increased demand for aged care services and increased needs from residents. There is also an increasing need for staff from aged care facilities to be trained in areas of infection control and personal hygiene.
Aged care compliance officers must prepare for the everchanging COVID-19 restrictions the COVID-19 situation being volatile. All of them need to comply with restrictions if not they risk fines and their organisation.
Also, given that the elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups, it is crucial for aged care providers to hire compliance officers to ensure that their risk of a COVID-19 outbreak remains as low as possible.
The increase in the volume of visitors is inevitable. As such, aged care compliance officers need to make sure that these visits are carried out safely. To make sure these visits are carried out in compliance with visiting requirements, they can consider implementing visitor management systems.
Aged care compliance officers have more COVID-19 specific responsibilities. They have to make sure that their organisation is 100% compliant with all state and federal regulation. They also need to ensure compliance with internal company policies as well.
With COVID-19 still lurking around, many aged care providers have hired COVID-19 compliance officers. It is important that all aged care providers do their best to protect their staff and residents. An aged care compliance officer would be of great help!