The Department of Health’s aged care regulatory functions have been transferred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. As these take effect from 1 January 2020, the content on this page is currently undergoing review. See the summary of key changes.
Providers must have a written plan for continuous improvement that explains how the provider will meet its obligations in relation to the service and the standards.
Key changes for aged care providers
Commencement of the Aged Care Quality Standards
On 1 July 2019, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission) began assessing and monitoring the quality of care and services against the Aged Care Quality Standards (Quality Standards).
Please see our Transitioning to the new Standards page where you can access a transitional arrangements fact sheet about the key changes for providers. There are specific changes to the requirements for plans for continuous improvement (PCI).
Commission Act and Rules
For information about changes for providers when the Commission was established on 1 January 2019, please see our Commission Act and Rules page.
Commission requests for a provider's plan for continuous improvement
Under section 62 of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018 (Rules), providers must have a written PCI. The PCI must explain how they will assess, monitor and improve their quality of care and services, measured against the Quality Standards, from 1 July 2019. This is a new description that has increased focus on self-assessment as a core component of the continuous improvement process.
If the Commission requests a PCI, the provider must comply with the request. A provider is also required to revise their PCI when the Commission has made a decision regarding the provider's non-compliance with the Quality Standards.
What is continuous improvement?
Continuous improvement is a systematic, ongoing effort to improve the quality of care and services. It:
- considers the needs of a provider's consumers and may involve them in improvement activities;
- is part of an overall quality system that assesses how well a provider's systems are working and the standard of care and services achieved; and
- is a results-focused activity demonstrated through outputs and outcomes.
To be effective, continuous improvement must be a provider's central focus, be understood at all levels and accepted by all management and staff.
Download the Commission's Plan for continuous improvement (PCI) template for all program types.
Key elements of continuous improvement
- achievement of improvement through planned steps
- driven by involvement and accountability of key stakeholders:
- consumers, representatives, carers and others
- staff and volunteers
- committee and board members
- involves regular monitoring and evaluation of progress; linking evaluation to strategic planning.
Benefits of continuous improvement
- improve care and services to consumers
- improve stakeholder input and ownership
- identify changes in care and service needs
- enhance systems to monitor and track change
- demonstrate sustainable results.
Continuous improvement cycle
The model shown below is the four-phase Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.
Plan the improvement
Analyse the current situation of your organisation, gather information and research different ways to make improvements. Seek input and feedback from stakeholders. Establish goals and identify actions to implement the plan.
Implement the improvement
- test the suggested alternatives to identify the preferred improvement
- allocate resources to ensure the improvement is a success
- keep your stakeholders informed and involve those with a direct benefit from the outcome
- document the decisions made during the implementation phase.
Evaluate the improvement activity
Evaluate if the improvement is delivering what you intended; are changes required or should an alternative improvement be used.
Measure the improvements for example, audits, assessments and surveys. Document the evaluation methods and results. Take your time; incremental steps may deliver better results.
Act to standardise the process
There are two possible situations in this step:
- if the improvement isn’t successful, analyse what can be done differently next time and go through the cycle again with a different plan
- if successful, ensure all stakeholders are informed of the new process, all necessary staff are trained and educated, policies and procedures are implemented and change within the organisation is managed.
Keep track of your improvements
This will show the progress of your improvement initiatives. You can review, plan and identify what worked and what did not.
Review and update your PCI today; keep it current to show what you want to achieve today, tomorrow and in the future.
You can use a PCI that is best suited to your organisation or you may use our sample template. Make sure the template you choose covers the key areas included in our template.