Organisations in Focus
Alzheimer’s Australia NSW
Alzheimer’s Australia New South Wales (AANSW) is a member of a federation of Alzheimer’s Australia organisations, currently going through a unification process. Alzheimer’s Australia are the peak body, for people living with dementia and their family carers, that aim to minimise the incidence and impact of dementia.
AANSW has almost 150 staff and operates from 14 sites across New South Wales (NSW). They have a Manager of Quality and Business Systems supported by a cross-functional Business Improvement Committee who meet approximately every 6 weeks to oversee continual improvement activities. We spoke with Amanda Allen, in charge of project management and quality assurance who told us more about AANSW and their projects and initiatives.
AANSW have implemented a very successful Consumer Engagement Strategy as a method to focus on consumer consultation. The strategy is supported by their Dementia Advocates program made up of 150 people with dementia and current or former carers who give their time to support AANSW’s awareness and advocacy activities. This allows consumers to share their stories in a range of arenas giving them a collective voice, telling the story of dementia. Repeatedly, the feedback is positive with a common message of benefit and building a sense of purpose while re-validating their strengths, demonstrating that as insidious as dementia is, people can live well with dementia and not be defined by the condition.
Dementia-Friendly Communities is a campaign designed to create a suitable living environment for people with dementia where various forms of support are offered depending on the individual situations, providing high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value. There are a number of resources to assist communities and businesses to better understand the needs of people with dementia and training is also available in local businesses.
AANSW offer a range of other support services from ‘entry level’ such as counselling, early intervention programs, support services, carer education and a helpline. In addition, health and aged care workers are provided with education and training as well as information and awareness to the wider community. Systemic advocacy and informing policy is central to their role as the peak body, where their consumer engagement strategy is key.
AANSW are accredited with QIP and assessed against the NSW Disability Service Standards (NSW DSS) alongside the QIC Standards. AANSW adopted these standards in an effort to ensure the focus on developing, implementing and reviewing systems and process are maintained.
Having successfully achieved accreditation with QIP, Amanda has shared some helpful advice, which may be useful for organisations currently going through accreditation. During the initial reviews, the team at AANSW developed cross-functional teams to review each standard and identify what exactly the organisation does, while identifying any gaps. This ensured that the breadth of activities were understood by the review contact allowing for requirements to be identified, and staff to be engaged as active participants in the process.
An additional aid was from the review contact who became a QIP Assessor. This built an understanding as to what was expected in a review, what information to provide as evidence and how to present it, with the first review less daunting as a result. In the 12 years that Amanda has been with AANSW, the organisation has tripled in size. Without robust systems and procedures in place, this would have not been possible. The achievement of QIP accreditation validates the team’s commitment to continual improvement.