Code of Conduct for Aged Care and Banning Orders

Learn how the Code of Conduct for Aged Care and Banning Orders pertains to service categories and staff within aged care organisations. Discover insights into the application of the Code across various service types and provider roles.

The Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission’s (ACQSC) most recent Aged Care Quality Bulletin (#55 July 2023) reminds us that the Code of Conduct for Aged Care has now been in place for eight months and that the Commission has powers to deal with behaviour that is in breach of the Code, including the issuing of Banning Orders. A quick check of the Register of Banning Orders shows that forty-eight (48) Orders were issued to 28 July 2023, of which thirty-seven (37) are permanent bans. Now is the time for all approved providers to ensure that appropriate steps have been taken to embed the Code into organisational governance and operational practice.

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LPA recently conducted an online training program covering the Code of Conduct for Aged Care and Banning Orders.  Participants expressed some uncertainty about who the Code applies to and how to manage Banning Orders.

Two ways to examine how the Code applies are service types provided and organisational personnel.

The Commission advises that the Code applies to approved providers of residential, home care, and flexible care services (Transition Care Program, Multi-Purpose Services Program, Short-Term Restorative Care Program) but not to Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) providers. The Commission also advises that CHSP and NATSIFACP providers must behave in a way that aligns with the Code. If a provider delivers a range of service types, then the provider must apply the Code where applicable, noting that some workforce members may work across programs.  LPA’s message to all aged care providers is that you should act as if the Code applies, regardless of the service types provided.

Who is affected by the Code?

The Commission also advises that the Code applies to all people a provider engages in providing care or other services to consumers. This includes care managers, personal and domestic care workers, volunteers, and their supervisors and managers; those involved in different services, e.g., cooking, transport, maintenance, and gardening; and others with responsibility for the quality and safety of care such as Quality Managers or Human Resource Managers.  The Code applies to contractors in the same way as other aged care regulations and standards. The Code also applies to members of a provider’s governing body, including board members and leaders, e.g., CEOs, remembering that this includes those in voluntary roles. LPA’s message to all aged care providers is to understand that the Code applies to everyone involved in care, whether policy, management, or delivery, paid or voluntary, internal or external.

In addition to understanding how the Code applies, there are several important questions that providers should ask to ensure that the Code is effectively implemented and managed:

  • Has the Code been communicated to all governing body members and the workforce, including volunteers and contractors?
  • Has information about the Code been provided to consumers, including their right to call out breaches of the Code?
  • Is the Code part of workforce induction programs and ongoing mandatory training programs, and does that training include new and existing staff, volunteers, and governing body members?
  • Is the Code included in contractor agreements and routine contractor management procedures?
  • Do recruitment processes include appropriate and routine security and background checks for new and existing staff, volunteers, and governing body members, including Banning Orders?
  • Is there scope to use the requirements of the Code as an element of ongoing workforce performance review procedures and reward and recognition programs?

How to manage Banning Orders?

When deciding how to manage Banning Orders, it is important to understand that an Order is a consequence of a breach of the Code, so the best approach is to ensure effective organisation-wide implementation of the Code. If an Order is issued to an aged care worker, their employer will also be informed. It is important to understand if the Order is permanent, requiring the stand down of the banned worker, or provisional, requiring some action to be taken in accordance with the conditions of the Order. The key message for providers is avoidance of Orders, in that by effectively embedding and monitoring the Code, the likelihood of an Order being issued will be significantly minimised.

LPA recommends that providers:

  • Add breach of the Code and issuing of Orders to the organisational risk register and manage following organisational risk management procedure.
  • Take steps to embed the Code across your organisation, care workforce (including contractors and volunteers), executives, and governing body members.
  • Take steps to ensure that workforce management procedures account for review of the Register of Banning Orders as part of recruitment practice; and actioning Orders, should one be issued to a workforce member.
  • Understand that there are consequences for individuals and approved providers if banning orders are contravened.

For more information about the Code of Conduct for Aged Care and Banning Orders, check information on the ACQSC website.