Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Spt-Oct 2012 Contents CULTURAL
CEO of St Luke's, Mark
Compton, believes the
software is an effective
tool to improve processes,
but having a great
organisational culture is
still top priority. That's
why, he explains, having a
flexible system that could
adapt to St Luke's culture
was one of the most
important aspects of the
"It's customisable to
your particular business
needs so you adapt the
system to your business,"
Compton says, stressing
the importance of choosing a computer
program that fits in with the way you work.
"You've got to be careful that the
tail doesn't wag the dog." One example
is a risk-rating feature to support the
process of the correlating the severity
of a particular negative outcome with its
likelihood, so the organisation can "focus
its energy on the things that re important".
"It's not the software in and of itself
that manages the risk -- it's the staff. So
it's about the culture of the organisation.
Focus on the processes and not on blaming
people, but encourage them to put their
hand up and say, 'There's a risk here.'
"We want people reporting those
things, so it's also about the cultural
mores in the organisation that make feel
comfortable about participating in that."
Compton believes that risk
management is central to aged care
and healthcare -- based on the medical
principal, 'first, do no harm' -- and points
out that each service must still determine
what is and isn't acceptable. Software
simply allows the organisation to do that
in a more efficient and streamlined way.
"These systems are not there to drive
practice or dictate practice. The style of
the care is defined basically by the law
but then, beyond that, by the culture and
values of the organisation, in terms of
what it wants to offer. That will always
involve the organisation taking risks."
Risk management, integrated into their
overall business software package, was the
perfect fit for St Luke's Care.
But at HammondCare -- a larger provider
with even more complex residential,
in-home and acute care operations at
many sites -- a dedicated risk management
program was found to be appropriate.
Everything entered through the system
goes through a staff member in the risk
and quality team, such as in-house quality
and risk consultant -- Stuart Thorne.
"It's not that we don't trust our services,
but it enables accurate classification of
incidents and we can see the different trends
across the organisation," Thorne says.
Using fixed computer kiosks located
around the sites where it
has been implemented,
staff of all levels report
details of a huge range
of events like incidents,
alarm activations and
equipment failures, as
they occur. The purely
risk-focused program can
also send and receive
information to and from
the organisation's other
"We were collecting
before, but it was
collected locally in silos.
"It was very labour
intensive to pull in organisation-wide data,
and we realised if we continued to grow
the way we were planning, that wasn't
going to be sustainable in the long-run.
"And at a local level, with the
information all in one database, they can
do a case review on a resident in their
facility and see every single incident that's
happened to that client."
Thorne says the system increased the
amount of reporting -- by 33 per cent in
the first year -- and also improved the
accuracy of that reporting.
"The big change, organisationally, is
that visibility of all services, in terms of
our risk management information. We can
actually see the information on all the
services we have access to."
This 'helicopter view' of risk is far
clearer and more detailed when looking
through the high-tech lens of computer
software, which can reveal risks that
would otherwise be invisible.
Thorne gives the example of needle-
stick injuries, which were very rare at any
one site, but were judged to happen too
often within the organisation as a whole.
He says the system made it pretty easy to
work out that most needle-stick injuries
were happening in disposal and to confirm
the solution -- educate staff on correct
procedures and use retractable needles
where possible -- was working.
But it's not that simple in every case.
Life in itself is a risk and often, the value
of an activity takes precedence over the
risk it entails.
"There's various guiding principles that
come into acting on that data," Thorne
says. "It's sometimes easy to eliminate
risk, but sometimes that has its own
negative effect on people.
"Eliminating the risk is obviously not
always the solution. It's about looking
at each on its own and asking, 'Are we
managing this intelligently; can we reduce
it to a level that's acceptable?'"
As an aged care provider, "the lens
through which we look at our organisation
is our people, and how we can meet the
needs of our [clients] and our community.
Intelligent risk management is really
important to achieving that". n
The 2011 Bentleys Aged Care
Survey shows there is an
increasing focus on new revenue
streams, better efficiencies and
improving balance sheets.
But smart providers also need
to better understand what drives
The 2011 Bentleys Survey has
collated financial and operational
data from around Australia and
provides insight into performance
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Find out what drives your service.
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