Jun 22, 2018

Aged care providers not signing up for voluntary standards


Fewer than 10 per cent of aged care operators are using the Federal Government’s voluntary standards for resident care, according to a report in The Australian.

The National Aged Care Quality Indicator Program was introduced two years ago as a voluntary program for aged care providers with the aim of providing “transparent, comparable information about quality in aged care.”

The Program allows facilities to provide data on three measurable quality indicators – pressure injuries, use of physical restraint, and unplanned weight loss.

“Data about whether they [the standards] have been met is still not public, the report in The Australian said.

It’s unclear where The Australian’s journalist, Rick Morton, who wrote the article, obtained the information about the low rate of take-up for the voluntary quality indicator program.

However, Aged & Community Services CEO Pat Sparrow provided HelloCare with a statement based on her experience with members of ACSA.

Operators already monitoring care, are highly regulated: ACSA

Ms Sparrow said some aged care providers already have their own clinical and care measures in place.

“Many aged care providers already have effective programs in place actively monitoring areas covered in The National Aged Care Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) covering clinical areas such as the management of falls and unplanned weight-loss,” she said.

The aged care industry is regulated by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency according to the Agency’s quality standards, said Sparrow.

“A provider’s clinical and care outcomes are assessed and monitored through the current Aged Care Quality Standards (via the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency),” she said.

Ms Sparrow said the industry is moving towards a single quality framework.

“Going forward, providers are focused on the changes to aged care quality assessment following the Carnell Review, the development of the new aged care single quality framework and the announcement of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.”

“With the change to a single quality framework comes an enhanced focus on a patient’s psycho-social wellbeing beyond the purely clinical focus of the voluntary code.”

What consumers think of the aged care they receive, or a loved one receives, is the most important assessment of aged care, Ms Sparrow said.

“The most important indicator in aged care is what consumers and their families think of the care they receive.

“The increased focus on consumer feedback is facilitated through Consumer Experience Reports (Australian Aged Care Quality Agency) which has so far canvassed the views of 55,000 consumers and their families. Further work is being done by COTA through their own consumer-lead consultations on the future of quality indicators and this too will be informative and important.”

Comment from Nick Ryan, CEO AACQA

Mr Nick Ryan, CEO, Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, confirmed with Hellocare that in the current financial year to date, as at 31 May 2018, the AACQA had made 48 findings of Serious Risk.

He also confirmed the data is not available online.

Mr Ryan provided the following statement:

“The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency is the Government body responsible for accrediting Commonwealth funded aged care residential homes against Accreditation Standards set by Government.

“In instances where the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency finds a residential aged care home fails to meet one or more of the expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards, it considers whether that failure has placed, or may place the safety, health or wellbeing of a care recipient of the service at Serious Risk.

“Serious Risk is a decision made at a point in time – it is not an ongoing state. A home is given details of why the Quality Agency has made a finding of serious risk in order to take urgent action to rectify the area of poor care.

“A timetable for improvement is set and in most cases, homes demonstrate they have addressed the identified issues.

“The Quality Agency will notify the Department of Health when a Serious Risk finding is made. The Department of Health makes a decision on whether there is immediate and severe risk to care recipients and whether to impose sanctions on the approved provider of the service.

“The Quality Agency publishes a notification of a Serious Risk decision on its website. The notification includes information about the failure to meet an expected outcome of the applicable standards and the date that the Serious Risk decision was made.

“Services where Serious Risk decisions are made are monitored through the Quality Agency’s compliance monitoring activities including through unannounced visits.”

This article was updated on 25 June with a statement from AACQA.

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  1. It is time for Pat Sparrow and ACSA to give up on the now discredited claims that this is about regulation and that somehow the industry and the regulators they want are going to fix the crisis in care. They are largely responsible for the failed system we now have and Sparrow is asking us to trust their behind closed doors system.

    Staffing levels and skills have fallen to dismal levels over the last 20 years. It is not possible for the system to be world class or to be providing good care. Dr Kidd who has provided care to residents in nursing homes for many years spoke for the AMA at the House of Reps Inquiry on 11th May. He said that “Its definitely worse now than it was 20 years ago”.

    Its time for industry and politicians to acknowledge that they have failed society. Its time to start talking to those in the community who have studied what has been happening and might be able to help sort out the mess that they have saddled us with. The last thing we need is another set of weak and inadequate patches to a failed system based on failed policies.

    As responsible citizens and a civilised community we are all ultimately responsible for the care of those in need in our communities. Government and providers are our agents in providing this care and so accountable to us. What both need to do is come and talk to us about creating structures in our communities that we can use to hold each provider of care directly accountable to the citizens they serve – and get rid of those who don’t meet our expectations.

    In a democracy it is citizens and not industry that holds power and when we are dealing with a market in community services the community needs to be the ultimate customer in deciding who can be trusted to provide that care. But we should be very wary of ‘community organisations’ whose independence is handcuffed by their dependence on government funding and support.

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