The announcement of a new single statutory Commission for aged care quality, safety and complaints has been largely welcomed by the peak bodies, but it must lead to clear accountability and consistent quality of care, the Aged Care Guild has warned.
The lack of detail about the new Commission including its structure and how it will operate has created angst amongst providers and their representative organisations.
Interim CEO of the Guild, Lee Hill, said the reforms must fulfil the recommendations set out in the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes.
“We’ve been very clear through the review process about the need to eliminate the inconsistencies in how the industry is regulated by the relevant government agencies and to increase accountability for aged care policy, regulation and the consumer feedback and appeals mechanism.”
“The establishment of an Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is a positive step to address these issues, but it is important that it doesn’t become just another layer of bureaucracy.”
“The government should take the opportunity provided by the establishment of this Commission to more efficiently regulate the aged care sector and allow our staff to focus on caring for our residents rather than red tape,” Mr Hill said.
The Guild said it was also supportive of performance ratings for aged care providers and that it was eager to contribute to the system’s design so that ratings were accessible and informative for residents and their families whilst, at the same time, setting fair and transparent benchmarks for the sector.
“Government needs to work with both consumers and the aged care sector to make sure these performance ratings give an accurate and informative representation of a home’s performance and how they respond to any identified concerns,” Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill noted that regulatory changes, while important, needed to be matched by the Government with reform that delivers providers the necessary resources to meet the expectations of consumers and the wider community.
“There is a lot of goodwill across the aged care sector for these reforms and we’ll be co-operating with the government to try to make sure the end result is clear accountability and consistent quality of care,” Mr Hill said.
It is understood the new Commission will be staffed by existing employees from the Quality Agency, Complaints Commissioner and the Department of Health, though the key positions have not been confirmed.
The current Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, Rae Lamb, is in the middle of her second term which was due to end in January 2020.
The confirmation there will not be an independent statutory officer in the role of Complaints Commissioner has enhanced speculation that she will land the top job.
The CEO position of the AACQA, currently held by Nick Ryan, will also be absorbed into the new Commission.
The existing Quality Agency Advisory Council will be replaced by an advisory group, which will include consumer representatives, for the whole Commission.
A new Chief Clinical Advisor will be appointed to provide clinical support to the whole Commission and will be supported by an expert clinical panel.