May 15, 2017

New Panel to Ensure Better Care? Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes Begins

With the failures of regulatory bodies to recognise the poor care and abuse that was happening at South Australia’s Oakden facility, a new panel has been created to review National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes.

Late last week it was announced that there would be a two person team that will conduct the independent review on the current quality regulatory processes that are in place for government funded aged care.

Part of the review will also include an examination of the agencies involved in regulating the quality of care in residential aged care. This will include the Department of Health, Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.

The Federal Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, has appointed Kate Carnell, a veteran public administrator and regulator, to lead the Review. The second appointed role was given to Professor Ron Paterson, an international expert on patients’ rights, complaints, health care quality and the regulation of healthcare professions.

Minister Wyatt has described the review as a crucial step in ensuring that the Commonwealth’s aged care regulatory processes continue to protect older Australians.

“The skills and experience of Ms Carnell and Professor Paterson extend across public administration, health and regulatory standards,” he said.

Kate Carnell

Ms Kate Carnell is the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. She has public administration, business and health experience through her experience as CEO of a number of organisations and is a pharmacist by profession. She will also bring experience from her time as ACT Chief Minister.

“Ms Carnell has considerable experience in tackling difficult issues in a range of areas and exceptional stakeholder skills. She is a creative thinker and will bring to the review perspectives gained from experience in a range of industries,” said Minister Wyatt.

Ron Paterson

Professor Paterson is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Melbourne Law School. He is a former New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner and New Zealand Parliamentary Ombudsman.

“I am confident that they will bring rigour and independence to the review so that we can assure the community that the regulatory system in residential aged care works effectively,” said Minister Wyatt.

The Oakden Report

The call for a review was made after the incident of Oakden facility of the South Australian Older Persons Mental Health Service, where there was mistreatment and abuse of their elderly dementia patients, reportedly ongoing for years.

The South Australian Government commissioned review stated: “The Review heard and saw evidence that Oakden became better at knowing how to produce documents and records that Accrediting Bodies and Surveyors wanted to and expected to see; and better at ensuring staff knew what to say. However, it became no better at providing safe or better quality care”.

Due to this, the Makk and McLeay wards of Oakden were closed down immediately.

A review of the regulatory processes aims to make improvements to ensure “early detections and swift remediation” of any problems, so that another incident like Oakden is not repeated.

As well as investigating why prior to its sanction on 17 March 2017, the Commonwealth aged care regulatory processes did not adequately identify the systemic and longstanding failures of care at the Makk and McLeay wards documented in the Oakden Report.

The review of aged care quality regulatory processes is to be reported to the Aged Care Minister by 31st August, 2017. From there, a course of action will take place upon the panel’s recommendations.

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