At the beginning of April, the SIRS came into effect – put in place to ensure facilities are reporting and keeping a register of all serious incidents – including, but not restricted to, neglect, stealing and abuse. The SIRS expands the range of reportable incidents which must be reported to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
According to Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson, 3,000 incidents have already been reported in the scheme’s first month. These include 1,580 high-priority incidents, 108 reports of unlawful or inappropriate sexual conduct, and has resulted in 10 investigations that are currently underway.
With incidents being reported into eight different categories, staff at the aged care regulator are expected to soon undergo training to better understand the risks of sexual assaults in aged care homes.
Of the documented incidents, unreasonable use of force being used on aged care residents was the highest number of reports, with 55% of incidents falling into that category. This was followed by neglect, unexplained absence from care, unexplained death, psychological or emotional abuse, stealing or financial coercion by a staff member, and the use of inappropriate restraints.
With the final report of the Aged Care Royal Commission being handed down back in early March, 148 recommendations were made to improve the quality of care in Australia. These recommendations included new laws protecting the rights of older people and increasing the powers of industry regulators.
The SIRS is one of the first steps in tackling abuse within the Australian aged care system since the royal commission’s recommendations were handed down.
According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website, “SIRS sets new arrangements for approved providers of residential aged care to manage and take reasonable action to prevent incidents with a focus on the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of aged care consumers.”