Following an unannounced Audit in March 2020, St Vincent’s Care Services (SVCS) Heathcote failed to appropriately meet 33 of the 42 Quality Standards according to the Aged Care and Quality Commission. As such, the residential aged care facility received a ‘non-compliant’ status from the Commission and had just 12 weeks to resolve identified issues and then be reassessed for full compliance.
The Audit highlighted significant issues across quality and delivery of patient care, as well as operational procedures, staff engagement and training. Since taking over the Heathcote facility in 2019, SVCS had already begun making some changes and faced backlash from a small group of residents and families. The ‘non-compliant’ audit only served to add to this anxiety and posed further reputational and operational risk.
BBS recommended a communications approach which allowed SVCS to genuinely focus on the needs identified in the Audit whilst helping to mitigate reputational risk with residents, staff and the local community. SVCS wanted to communicate that it was operating with integrity and transparency as it worked towards full compliance with the Commission’s review.
This all occurred at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures limited the types of communication activities which would be deployed. BBS developed communications across a range of channels to engage with residents, families, staff, volunteers and other key stakeholders to reinstate confidence in the appropriate management of the facility and the residents entrusted to its care.
The communication strategy was focused on empowering staff to lead communication on the ground and this ultimately strengthened the reputation of the facility. Importantly, no media coverage of the issue was published.
Clear, honest and regular communications ensured only a minimal negative feedback was received from internal stakeholders and this enabled constructive in-house discussions.