With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing underlying issues within Australia’s aged care sector, boards will need to step up focus on governance according to the Governance Institute of Australia.
Megan Motto, CEO of Governance Institute of Australia said that faced with devastating fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing scrutiny by a royal commission, boards in the aged care sector will need to place a sharp focus on governance in a bid to prevent future missteps.
“We are seeing a sector that is grappling with a heavy impact from the pandemic as well as the ongoing spotlight of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety,” Ms Motto said.
“This is welcome scrutiny for a sector that is responsible for the care of some of society’s most vulnerable – and there is no excuse for future missteps.”
The Governance Institute also welcomed the announcement that aged care workers across Australia will receive paid pandemic leave in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 – but says it should be up to federal and/or state governments to shoulder the costs.
Ms Motto said that the paid pandemic leave scheme will help deter people from going to work when unwell but unless the costs of the paid leave are covered by the government, more businesses will suffer.
As Victorian and federal authorities try to prevent further COVID-19 tragedies in the state’s aged care homes, experts say the explosion in cases was entirely predictable and that strategies could have been put in place to contain its spread.
More than 800 residents and staff from Victorian aged care homes have now been infected with coronavirus, with seven new deaths tied to the sector confirmed on Wednesday and 49 in total.
Research from leading aged care consultancy StewartBrown suggested a staggering 56 per cent of 1,100 individual facilities surveyed were losing money at an operational level even before COVID-19 struck.
Ms Motto said Governance Institute has revised and on Wednesday relaunched its adding value to governance in aged care guide to help the embattled sector navigate an increasingly complex set of regulatory and operational challenges.
“Our guidance that we are relaunching today will assist current and future board members as scrutiny and demands on the aged care sector continue to increase,” Ms Motto said.
She said the guidance is “mandatory reading” for anyone currently on the board of an aged care provider – whether they are new in the role or not – as well as anyone considering taking on a board position.
Changes incorporated in the revised guidance include the latest statistics on the industry showing its growth and likely further increases, a copy of the Aged Care Quality Standards, plus new content on clinical governance.