Opinion: Does the Aged Care Rating System pass the pub test?

In this guest post, Dr Rodney Jilek discusses the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s response on how compliance (inc non-compliance) impacts an aged care provider’s star rating. Dr Jilek recently published a discussion paper that investigated the correlation between an aged care provider’s star rating the the actual performance of the facility.

Following our recent investigation highlighting apparent glaring inconsistencies with the ratings applied to aged care facilities and their actual compliance performance, the Commission has attempted to defend its conclusions by describing an opaque, subjective system that operates in the shadows, parallel with the official guidelines based on their “trust” that a provider will rectify the issues identified … eventually.

This means that a facility can fail all 8 standards of accreditation and have no formal action taken or have their star rating impacted and this level of trust appears to extend to providers who have been unable to meet the minimum standards for more than 3 years or have a history of non-compliance spanning decades.

We were led to believe that the Albanese Labor government was going to improve transparency while simultaneously strengthening regulation to improve the quality of aged care in response to the damning conclusions of the Royal Commission. Anika Wells, the Minister for Aged Care has staked her reputation on it.

But what we now have is a system even murkier than the previous one, where the new official star rating doesn’t even take into consideration whether a provider can meet the minimum basic standards or not but is based upon provider-submitted, unverified data and a ‘gut feel’ of the delegate.

Surely, if 3 stars is considered “acceptable” and 4 and 5 stars is considered the best in the country, meeting the basic minimum standards of accreditation, the standards that measure the quality of care and services provided, must be the starting point. In any other sector, failing the minimum standards is seen as unacceptable…

Would you fly on a plane that failed some or all of the minimum safety standards?

Would you eat at a restaurant that failed the food safety standards?

Would you go to a hospital that failed to meet their basic standards of accreditation?

The ongoing failure of providers to meet minimum standards coupled with the regulator’s failure to act or correctly report this in a transparent way is an enormous issue that raises serious questions of whether the general public and parliament, are being misled.

Why is this seen as acceptable for older Australians?


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