Building and maintaining a good safety culture is vital for safe and inclusive care.
- Ensure you’re comfortable discussing safety concerns and reporting incidents through your Incident Management System (IMS).
- Look for ways to improve when investigating incidents, not who to blame.
Defining a good safety culture
Safety culture is about how your organisation:
- treats risks and manages incidents
- responds when incidents occur
- collaborates to prevent future incidents
- improves safety for people receiving aged care.
A good safety culture means supporting workers to:
- identify incidents and near misses
- learn together to prevent incidents
- observe, report and mitigate risks
- have the confidence to record and report risks or incidents correctly
- develop continuous improvement solutions
- escalate issues.
Safety culture is vital to meeting the requirements of the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS).
Building and strengthening safety culture
As a manager, you can build a positive safety culture by:
- creating strong relationships
- communicating clearly on incident management
- making sure your staff understand your expectations
- enabling collaboration and inclusion
- encouraging a learn-and-grow mindset
- encouraging open disclosure
- listening without judgement
- giving meaningful feedback and team recognition
- mentoring positive examples
- showing a commitment to incident management and reporting.
You can also strengthen your organisation’s safety culture by:
- consulting with other providers and learning what they do
- discouraging behaviours not consistent with the culture
- adapting training to address cultural barriers that workers need to report
- reviewing internal documents to align with organisational values
- checking in with workers after an incident or near miss to address issues and concerns.
Safety culture and your IMS
A positive safety culture and a robust IMS should support each other.
Your IMS should:
- give clear expectations for managing incidents
- provide a framework for reporting, managing and investigating incidents
- enable continuous improvement.
There are significant benefits to having an IMS that supports your organisation’s safety culture. However, even the best IMS will be ineffective if your workers are too afraid to use it.
As a manager, your approach to incident management should focus on improvement, not blame. You should commit to learning from incidents and near misses.
This will help workers feel comfortable using the IMS to raise issues and report incidents. They're then more likely to learn from their mistakes and be accountable.
Responsibility for safety culture
Everyone at an aged care service is responsible for its safety culture. For example:
- workers are responsible for identifying risks and reporting incidents
- managers are responsible for ensuring workers feel comfortable reporting incidents.
Anyone can help build a good safety culture in their organisation by:
- sharing ideas, experience and knowledge to prevent incidents
- never hiding incidents when they happen
- treating incidents as opportunities to improve and strengthen your safety culture.
Aged Care Quality Standard 8: Requirement (3)(d)(iv)
You must have adequate risk management systems and practices, including using an IMS.