The South Island Alliance’s quality assessors for aged residential care (ARC) play a vital role in ensuring facilities are providing consistent, high quality health care. “The most rewarding thing is being able to make a difference – and seeing the continuous improvements made,” says Aged Care Quality Assessor Elizabeth Lear, who is part of the South Island Alliance’s Aged Care Certification Monitoring Team, along with Margaret Roigard, administrator Halie Marsden, and manager Matthew Wood.
All ARC facilities in the South Island undergo an announced audit by a Designated Auditing Agency (DAA) to gain certification for a set length of time, from between six months to four years. About halfway through the period of certification, an unannounced surveillance audit is completed. If standards are not being met, this is where the Aged Care Certification Monitoring Team comes in. Supporting DHB planning and funding across the South Island, the team monitors and follows up on any requirements found through the auditing process.
After reviewing the audit report and receiving comment from the DHB, they develop a progress monitoring report (PMR), which includes specific requests for evidence and timeframes. Once the PMR is approved by the DHB, it is sent to the facility. The DHB needs to be satisfied that the level of risk has been reduced and any identified issues have been actioned and remedied, says Margaret. “The cycle is continuous, until all corrective actions have been made. We work on behalf of DHBs, so any evidence has to be approved by them. We also complete annual reports for each DHB and attend local quality improvement meetings to find out what’s working and what’s not, and how we can support or improve outcomes for our residents in aged care facilities.”
In some cases, the team visits the facilities on-site. As registered nurses with current practising certificates, and extensive experience in both aged care and auditing, Elizabeth and Margaret have confidence in their ability to be quality conscious and supportive to staff. “We have been on the floor, we have been managers. We have walked in their shoes, so we understand the issues they are facing. Ultimately, we are all working together towards the same goal.”