Of the thousands of aged care quality audits that have taken place over the last eighteen months, only 37 occurred outside normal business hours, The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has confirmed.
A spokesperson from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission told HelloCare, “For the period 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2018, the former Quality Agency undertook 37 visits that either commenced or finished outside business hours, including on weekends.”
As we know, aged care facilities are ‘home’ for residents; a place they live 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the future it would be reasonable to expect that audits would assess care at any time of day, on any day of the week to get an accurate and complete picture of how care is being delivered at any particular home.
After hours and on weekends, staff numbers are often lower, and residents in some facilities could be exposed to poorer standards of care. With this in mind, audits outside normal business could be a key way to identify abuse or unacceptably low levels of care.
The argument for out-of-hours audits has been raised in the past as something that would help assessors get a complete picture of an aged care facility’s operations.
The ACQSC spokesperson told HelloCare it is “actively exploring” the idea of doing more of its audits after 5pm and on weekends.
“The Commission is actively exploring the value of increasing the proportion of unannounced monitoring visits undertaken out of business hours,” it said.
“The Commission has the power under the legislation to independently assess and hold providers to account when quality standards are not met. This includes exercising search powers at any time of the day or night, including outside business hours.”
The Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, The Hon Julie Collins MP, issued a statement saying the “damning” revelations show the Liberal government has “taken its eye off the ball when it comes to the care of older Australians”.
“The Liberal Government did not ensure one unannounced visit to monitor nursing home standards occurred after hours prior to the Royal Commission into aged care being called,” the statement said.
“This is despite significant media reporting highlighting the unacceptable treatment of older Australians after hours in residential aged care.
“Out of thousands of unannounced visits, there were none made outside business hours and only 10 that began on a weekend or public holiday.
Ms Collins said that in order for the public to have an accurate picture of aged care quality, inspections must be carried out at all hours of the day.
“Older Australians in residential care and their loved ones deserve to know what is really happening and this is only possible with checks taking place at all hours including evenings, weekends and public holidays,” the statement said.