Tips for supporting your people through the Royal Commission

This is a difficult time to be working in the aged care sector. Staff are expected to expertly juggle the physical and mental demands of managing the needs of consumers, the introduction of new quality standards, limited budgets, and now in the face of the Royal Commission Interim Report, definitively titled Neglect, they are challenged with relentless media, industry and social commentary highlighting the failings of a broken system.


07 Nov 2019

Many stakeholders within the industry have been left feeling sad, defensive and unappreciated despite the exceptional work and care that they deliver day in, day out. Here are a few suggestions to assist providers in supporting your staff through this challenging time.


Review your legal obligations

Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws and regulations are inclusive of physical and mental health and require employers to manage work related psychological health and safety. In a Member Update earlier this year ACSA’s Employee Relations team discussed mental health in the workplace, citing Safe Work Australia’s Mental Health webpage as a valuable resource in providing guidance on meeting your WHS duties.

The ACSA Employee Relations team also addressed the option for employers to implement formal Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provided by third parties or the option of providing employees access to local counsellors and psychologists.

There are many Government-funded services available to employees who are concerned or experiencing distress due to their participation in or issues emerging from the Royal Commission.

ACSA Members can seek guidance and support in managing these employment issues by contacting the ACSA Employee Relations team, who can assist in strengthening your organisation’s internal HR capacity and capability.


Open communication across your organisation is crucial

The Royal Commission is not something you need to protect staff from, in fact it is the opposite – you can’t shield them from it, so work with your teams to reinforce values, purpose, training and development, and identifying priorities requiring immediate action.

Implement a genuine feedback system accessible to all employees. Understand how your staff are travelling:

  • What is the sentiment amongst your staff?

  • What are the issues, the concerns, the knowledge gaps – and what action can be taken to improve?

Ensure key staff are receiving regular updates from management and industry leaders. ACSA Members can nominate staff to receive Royal Commission and Member Updates, along with Employee Relations newsletters, media alerts and other important news as it happens. Email ACSA to arrange a subscription.


Public perception versus reality

As the media often does, they have focused on shocking examples of poor care provided by a few. Many within the sector acknowledge that these cases are unacceptable; and we also know these are the exceptions to the high standards of care and kindness provided by the vast majority within aged care services. Remember to acknowledge your staff for their efforts, appreciate how important their work is to delivering quality care to older Australians.

As the report recognises, “[they] do really actually care. They are in a difficult position trying to provide the best they can in less than ideal circumstances…”

 

The Interim Report is tough to read however it’s important that we recognise the systemic problems and challenges it has identified, while supporting the many staff within the sector who will continue to provide exceptional care, compassion and kindness to the aged care population.