A study by KPMG of 151 home care providers found that in the six months from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, 161 ‘serious incidents’ occurred.
The most common serious incident was stealing and coercion, which accounted for 69 incidents or 43%.
The second most common serious incident was neglect, with 50 cases, accounting for 31% of incidents.
The remaining 42 reports were of unreasonable use of force (14 reports, 9% of incidents), psychological or emotional abuse (10 reports, 6%), unexpected death (nine reports, 6%) and unlawful or inappropriate sexual contact (eight reports, or 5%).
By comparison, in the first six weeks of the Serious Incident Report Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care (ending 12 May 2021), the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission received 4,496 notifications of serious incidents, including 778 cases of unreasonable use of force, 448 instances of neglect, 192 cases of unexpected death, and nearly 150 cases of inappropriate sexual conduct.
The Serious Incident Response Scheme for residential aged care began collecting reports from 1 April 2021, but no such scheme exists for home care.
However, the government allocated $14 million for the expansion of SIRS into home care in the 2021-2022 federal budget. KPMG was commissioned to study the prevalence of serious incidents in the home care setting and to develop options for expanding the SIRS into home care.
The purpose of the KPMG study was to understand the volume and nature of serious incidents that occur in home care settings. The consultants outlined a range of options for a home care SIRS, including simply applying the residential aged care SIRS to home care or requiring only Priority 1 incidents to be reported for home care.
Though the KPMG survey data is informative, only 7% of Australia’s 2,078 home care providers took part in the survey.
It’s currently estimated that between 2% and 14% of older Australians experience elder abuse across the population.
About 900,000 Australians currently receive aged care services in their home, and this number is set to rise as people prefer to age in place.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended the government ensure the serious incident reporting scheme “addresses all serious incidents, including in home care”.
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