Jan 31, 2019

Aged care quality audits rarely performed outside business hours

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.”

Aged care facilities a home

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.

Quality Commission “exploring” increasing audits outside normal working hours

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.”

Shadow Ageing Minister says findings are “damning”

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.

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  1. Normally when I write to Hello Care if I’m a bit contraversial or don’t agree with the author then I don’t get printed, so I’ll try again

    Firstly, quality inspections tend to happen Monday to Friday because the right people are there to answer the question asked. Most charge RNs have minimal knowledge of audits, logs, prudential compliance etc etc. That is certainly not a criticism just a fact, they don’t need nor should they be expected to know.

    The quality assessments are predominantly involved in a document trail to see if someone has accidentally forgotten to sign a form or such.
    Most facilities have a Facility Manager and a Clinical Care Coordinator that work tirelessly to ensure compliance, that compliance is either electronic or paper based and stored safely.
    It would be stupid to suggest that those professionals should be on site at all times just in case an inspection occurs. When the agency does an inspection, normally three days, two point nine percent of that time is in a closed room looking for fault in a document. The other fraction of time is spent interviewing a few staff, relatives or residents.
    Essentially it is a paper chase so to get the best relay of information it is appropriate to attend facilies during business hours.

    It was interesting to read from the quality agencies that last year there were 23 complaints per 1000 residents. I wonder how many restaurants could match that? So congratulations to residential aged care for a job bloody well done.

  2. Unannounced visits after hours and weekends and public holidays are warranted and necessary
    As stated they are 24hr 7day a week 365 days a year establishments and should be observed at any time and in any situation..

  3. After hours Audit’s would be great as most already know when visits are due. Extra staff employed and everything is in tip top condition. Staff and residents are already organised to speak to talk to audit staff. No upper management are on ground after hours. This would help verify staffing issues and care after hours. YES after HOUR VISIT’S would be harder on staff roistered for that shift BUT, clients need to be covered 24/7.

  4. Well audits are not any different to the regular audits as we had one recently and they would ask the staff their name and staff were too scared to say anything not to mention management suddenly appearing on the floor to assist in feeding the residents at the time the auditors were there. This only happens during audits. Surely the auditors would know what was going on. They should follow me on Dementia and see how incredibly ridiculously hard I work when there are so many high needs residents that are wandering, incontinent, abusive. It is ridiculous. And when you work alone and have so many to care for. I sometimes wish there were hidden cameras on the ward so people could see the physical and sometimes overwhelming workload I am faced with every night! Another Aged care place I know of is having their audit by phone. Can you believe it??? It will be a win win for the government..

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