Tip 1: Optimising audits – the airline approach

What is wrong with auditing my department’s practices?

You do not conduct your own performance review and the chances are you enlist independent auditors to complete financial audits. The same rationale applies to departmental audits.

To be truly effective, audits need to be objective and unbiased.

Auditors need an eye for detail and an ability to manage the push back that may flow from asking staff confronting questions about possible non-conformance and non-compliance.

Auditing to ensure quality outcomes needs auditors who are well positioned to scrutinise:

  • your organisation’s quality assurance and continuous improvement systems
  • your staff’s ability to maintain those systems

Most managers have the technical knowledge and communication skills to conduct successful audits. What you need to provide is the right context for them to apply their skills and knowledge.

In four simple steps you can optimise audit outcomes

  1. Categorise the audit

Determine which audits are ‘black and white’ and can be completed by anyone who knows how to audit e.g. food and fridge temperature checks. Then identify which audits require specialist knowledge e.g. care planning, where content and subject matter expertise are important.

  1. Encourage cross-checks

Imitate the airlines i.e. one flight attendant is responsible for locking the door and another for checking it. Cross-checking ensures objectivity. Do the same with your trained auditors. Get them to audit a different department, area/unit or one of your other sites.

This approach also encourages cross-pollination of ideas. It can present an opportunity for professional development and continuous improvement while identifying compliance and non-compliance. When looking at the bottom line, three-for-one is a great statistic!

  1. Conduct random audits

We’ve all crammed for an exam, shoved our mess into a cupboard and/or madly cleaned the house before receiving visitors. The threat of an audit inspires the same kind of reaction and it really shouldn’t. After all, audits are about care and service outcomes not just ticking the box.

Random audits help you to assess the actual state of play so that you can genuinely assess compliance levels and drive your quality assurance and continuous improvement process in a way that supports a thriving, viable service.

  1. Engage external auditors

External auditors provide information for performance reviews and development. They upskill your team, provide new ideas and assure organisation-wide objectivity.

The Erigo team has been auditing standards in the aged care sector for over 15 years. For objective feedback or audit training and mentoring for your team, call us on 03 9527 2088.