A key part of the soon-to-be-introduced star ratings for aged care providers is being “rushed” according to an industry peak body and, in some cases, “leaving residents distressed”.
The Federal Government has set a deadline of October 31 for 20% of all aged care residents to be interviewed about their care in nursing homes.
Called Consumer Experience Interviews, these resident interviews will form the basis of the new star rating system which is due to be in place in December this year.
Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Paul Sadler, said the peak body’s provider members have some issues with how the interview process is going.
“Our members have been telling us that they feel the process is being rushed and is causing unnecessary disruption and, in some cases, leaving residents distressed,” Mr Sadler said.
Although aged care staff are not expected to organise the interviews or support any residents during interviews, staff do need to provide support to any residents who are confused or distressed after the interview.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Aged Care said the interviews will be the “most heavily weighted feature” of the star ratings, which will be published on the My Aged Care website for aged care consumers to view when searching for a nursing home.
The Department said interviewing 20% of all aged care residents was in line with Recommendation 94 of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and would “give vital insight into the quality of services they receive”.
The interviews contain 14 questions and residents are selected at random to participate.
While providers did agree the interviews were necessary and were supportive of gathering information to inform the star ratings, Mr Sadler said, providers believe not enough time is being allowed for residents that need support.
“Many aged care residents have cognitive issues or life experience that can make an interview with a stranger a confusing or stressful event,” explained Mr Sadler.
“We have had reports from members that not enough time is being set aside to conduct the interviews.
The Department spokesperson said an attempt had been made to keep the interview process “as simple as possible to prevent any additional work for residential aged care services”.
“Services may be asked to support interviewers in gaining access to, and navigating around the service. Staff are not present for the interviews,” said the spokesperson.
“In some cases when a resident is unable or unwilling to speak for themselves, the interview may be completed by a representative who has authority to act on behalf of the older Australian.”
The interviews are being conducted by IQVIA, a multinational healthcare data and technology company, in a Consortium with not for profit case management provider Access Care Network Australia (ACNA) and consultancy firm Health Consult.
As the interviews will be a major part of what a provider’s star rating is based on, providers have been threatened with penalties if they aren’t done by the end of October.
Mr Sadler said this was an unfair penalty amidst ongoing pandemic requirements.
“The continuing pandemic and the recent COVID-19 wave has made supporting this process extremely difficult if not impossible for up to a third of residential aged care providers who have been affected by outbreaks and need to restrict visits,” he said.
“They should not be penalised for being unable to have resident interviews completed by the October 31 deadline.”
The organisation of the interviews has also not gone smoothly, Mr Sadler said, as providers expected to receive between four to six weeks notice of the dates and times but in reality only had a week or less of notice, with some reporting interviews cancelled with a day’s notice.