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Last week the Australian Department of Health released the current draft of the new Aged Care Quality Standards, with implementation to occur throughout 2018/19.

In the extensive ‘Quality Conversation’ undertaken by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency in 2015, “psychological and spiritual wellbeing…were regularly cited as key factors in quality care”.[1]  The new Quality Standards have the potential to be a significant move for the sector towards being more closely aligned with the needs of each older person, and for the accreditation process to look for the way organisations are enabling meaning, purpose and connectedness in each person’s life. The National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care[2] provide a remarkable strategic opportunity for aged care providers as they make the transition to new Quality Standards.

The new Standards have great potential, assuming their intent is genuinely to work with what matters most to each person and that key terms like ‘wellbeing’ and ‘quality of life’ are defined holistically, and ‘assessment’ includes spiritual assessment (how can it not?):

  • Maintain an older person’s identity (Standard 1)
  • Help older people to make connections with others (Standard 1)
  • Partner with consumers (Standard 2)
  • Optimise health and wellbeing (Standard 2, 3, 4)
  • Understand what is ‘right’ for each consumer (Standard 3)
  • Understands each person’s needs, goals and preferences (Standards 3, 4)
  • Optimise quality of life (Standard 4)
  • Creates a sense of belonging and safety (Standard 5, 6)
  • Have a workforce that is caring, respectful, embracing each person’s identity, culture and diversity (Standard 7)

We are looking forward to continuing our conversation with the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency about the guidance material for the new Standards, and how to ensure that each person’s needs are fully understood and integrated in to the support this is on offer.

[1] Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, (2015). Let’s Talk About Quality, 6.

[2] Meaningful Ageing Australia, (2016). National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care. Meaningful Ageing Australia, Parkville.