Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2015 Contents Residential aged care providers
face unique issues when
managing critical incidents in the
workplace, including allegations
of misconduct by employees or
residents and general safety incidents.
Effective incident management is
critical, particularly given the importance of
maintaining continuity of care for residents,
the nature of the work being undertaken
by employees, the wide ranging needs of
residents and other stakeholders and the
various regulatory requirements.
Given this, providers should have
a practical and ready-to-go incident
management framework that it is
universally understood across the
business and take pre-emptive steps to
ensure they are well placed to manage any
incidents before they occur.
1. Policies and procedures
Providers should ensure they have policies
and procedures in place that express
their expectations of workers, including
requiring employees and contractors to
comply with professional obligations,
duties of care, AHPRA policies, ethical
obligations and legislative obligations
including in relation to anti-discrimination,
safety and inappropriate behaviour.
Policies and procedures should also
express providers' conduct expectations
for residents and families, and establish risk
management processes including internal
and external reporting requirements,
identifying hazards, assessing risks and
controlling risks where possible.
Finally, they should establish disciplinary
processes including stand down procedures,
investigation processes and so on.
Providers should train individuals to
minimise risk. Individuals, including
residents and families where appropriate,
should receive regular training on the
content of policies and procedures.
Such training is vital to the successful
implementation of the policies, managing
behaviour, overall risk management and
establishing knowledge if disciplinary or
dispute processes become necessary.
Specialist training, including in relation
to the use of equipment, manual handling
and elder abuse awareness, will also assist
in minimising and managing any incidents.
Training targeted at dealing with
behavioural issues is important. Several
unfair dismissal applications before the
Fair Work Commission have involved
terminations following allegations of
inappropriate treatment toward residents
where the residents involved were prone
to anti-social and aggressive behaviours
including spitting and violence.
3. Employee Assistance Programs
Employees may benefit from a program
that allows them to confidentially discuss
workplace or personal issues that may
affect their behaviour in the workplace.
4. Regular review
Policies, procedures and training
programs should be regularly reviewed
to ensure they meet organisational
requirements, encompass any changes to
the law and reflect any lessons from other
incidents or experiences.
Providers should also be aware of
changes in the workplace which may
increase risk -- including in relation
to new equipment, new residents or
resident behaviours and consider whether
new policies or procedures need to be
introduced to manage risk.
WHEN INCIDENTS OCCUR
Once an incident has occurred, providers
must act quickly.
In determining the appropriate action,
providers should consider the nature
and severity of the incident, allegation
or complaint. They should also consider
the safety of residents and employees,
including implementing any necessary
arrangements to ensure continuity of care.
If the incident involves an injury,
medical assistance should be sought.
Providers should also consider whether it
is appropriate for an employee against whom
an allegation has been made to be suspended
while the investigation is conducted.
It is essential that aged care providers
and their employees adhere to their legal
obligations including under the Aged Care
Act 1997, applicable workplace health
and safety laws and their professional
and ethical obligations, and report any
incidents as per requirements.
A consistent approach should be taken
where similar allegations occur.
If an incident occurs, consideration should
be given to whether privilege should be
invoked for any investigation processes.
Relevant considerations will include
the nature and severity of the incident,
whether there is a potential for litigation
and the personalities involved.
Ensuring a thorough and defensible
investigation process can be key in future
As aged care facilities face many issues in managing critical
incidents, Victoria Hepburn and Sarah Walters outline the
steps providers can take before, during and after an incident.
32 | NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2015 | AAA
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