Governance workshops for not-for-profit aged care services

Participants attending a workshop on governance, holding an FRRR plaque.

In most towns in regional WA, there is one locally-operated not-for-profit residential aged care facility (often linked with the local hospital) or a regional home care service, sometimes a few towns apart. Operating these vital organisations cannot occur without their board members – who have the ultimate responsibility for running the charitable foundation, its property, finances and the employment of its staff and volunteers. In most instances being a board member in these small towns can be incredibly hard work and is normally unpaid.

As a peak body for not‐for‐profit charitable aged care service organisations, Aged and Community Services Western Australia (ACSWA) aims to provide responsive practical support, assistance and information services to its rural, regional and remote members.

With significant changes in the aged care arena, due to Government reforms, an issue that emerged, particularly in the Wheatbelt and South West Regions of WA, was accessing governance and board management training. Courses are available in metro areas, but that comes with not only the cost of the course itself but also the travel and accommodation - let alone time away from home for volunteer board members.

Knowing this, ACSWA decided to take customised board and governance training to them, with the support of a $4,875 Small Grant for Rural Communities, funded by John T Reid Charitable Trusts. They ran a full day workshop, customised for the not-for-profit sector, entitled ‘Insight into Board and Executive Governance.’ The session took place in Narroginon with 19 participants all of whom were either board members or in senior management positions in the not-for-profit sector.

The workshop covered the duties and responsibilities of directors, their roles and responsibilities of board governance verses management and the importance of risk management and strategic planning. Feedback highlighted a very successful and much needed course with suggestions for follow-up courses around compliance and clinical governance.

Trevor Lovelle, CEO of ACSWA, reported that the course also provided an impetus for further material to be developed around this subject matter, supporting those on boards in the regions. He even mentioned requests being received from the metro area. Mr Lovelle also said that without the grant, this course would not have taken place.

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