Aged care providers are being asked to comment on proposed changes to the aged care quality standards and how they are assessed against the standards as part of the move to a single quality framework.
The Department has released two different consultation papers as part of its industry engagement of the review, which providers need to address separately.
In what some industry leaders say is a case of putting the cart before the horse, the Department wants feedback on the proposed assessment process before the actual standards are confirmed.
The assessment consultation paper includes three options, which have been determined by the Department in consultation with NACA and the aged care sector committee.
- Assessment process based on care setting, with different approaches for residential settings and home/community-based settings.
- Single risk-based assessment process applicable to all aged care settings.
- Safety and quality declaration by organisations providing low-risk services readily available to the broader population (this can be combined with Option 1 or Option 2).
The preferred option will be further developed at the same time that revisions and piloting of the proposed new standards take place.
The assessment changes are expected to come into effect from July 2018 and will require legislative changes.
In providing feedback on the options, organisations are asked to discuss their preferred option and reasoning why, the impacts of the other options, critical elements of any assessment process, how consumers can best be engaged in the quality assessment process, how information gained from a quality assessment can drive competition and how the transition to a new process might be managed.
The single quality framework will apply to organisations delivering residential care, home care, flexible care, multi-purpose services (in a manner consistent with the spirit and intent of the standards), short-term restorative care and transition care), CHSP and NATSIFACP services.
In addition to new processes to assess performance against the new quality standards, the single framework will include improvements to the information available to consumers to support them to make choices about their aged care.
Currently, four sets of standards and two quality assessment processes are used to assess an organisation’s performance against the relevant standards.
The new draft quality standards comprise eight individual standards relating to:
- Consumer dignity, autonomy and choice
- Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
- Delivering personal care and clinical care
- Delivering lifestyle services and supports
- Service environment
- Feedback and complaints
- Human resources
- Organisational governance.
The two assessment processes include accreditation (which applies to residential care services and short-term restorative care provided in a residential setting) and quality review (which applies to organisations delivering care in a home/community setting).
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency manages the accreditation and quality review processes and also advises the Department of Health about areas of non-compliance.
The consultation paper identifies the limitations of the current assessment arrangements as being incoherent, inconsistent and unnecessarily costly to providers.
It notes they do not reflect the risk to consumers of increasingly complex care being provided in home settings and focus more on the type of care provided rather than a broad risk profile of the provider.
It also recognises the ‘one size fits all’ approach to assessment does not factor in the different types of services that are being provided.
Submissions are due by Friday 21 April.