Announced accreditation visits will be replaced with unannounced audits across Australia’s residential aged care facilities, in the first of many expected changes following the release of the aged care quality review.
The review, undertaken by Kate Carnell AO and Professor Ron Paterson in response to revelations of abuse at the Oakden facility earlier this year, was made public on Wednesday after the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, gave a National Press Club address about ageing and aged care.
A total of 10 recommendations are made in the review, including the establishment of a single commission that integrates accreditation, compliance and complaints handling in an independent body.
The Commission would include an Aged Care Quality Commissioner, an Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and an Aged Care Consumer Commissioner and be governed by a Board.
The introduction of a star-rated system for public reporting of provider performance and a centralised database for real-time information sharing were also recommended.
Minister Wyatt said the Turnbull Government would move as soon as possible to implement Recommendation 8, which outlines the abolishment of announced visits in place of two-day visits during which services would be assessed against all standards, with a risk-based process in place to determine frequency and rigour of visits.
No other commitment has been given to other recommendations yet, with the Government still considering the entire review in detail.
“Aged care safety and quality are non-negotiable and must be delivered to residents 365 days of the year, without exception,” Minister Wyatt said.
“I ordered this review after the appalling revelations at South Australia’s Oakden facility, and there have been other high-profile aged care failures which have highlighted where parts of our systems have sadly let us down.”
“While the overwhelming majority of facilities provide excellent care and are working to continually improve services, our focus must be on those that are not delivering.”
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency will continue to conduct initial accreditation audits in consultation with the provider, to allow them to understand the standards and meet licensing requirements.
In his Press Club address, Minister Wyatt said of the Oakden revelations, “It is appalling that anyone could be treated so badly, and that this mistreatment was not detected earlier.”
“That is why I am today releasing the Review and announcing that the Turnbull Government will move as soon as possible to implement unannounced assessment visits across residential aged care facilities, to help ensure safe, quality care standards are maintained at all times.”
“Aged care safety and quality are non-negotiable and must be delivered to residents 365 days of the year, without exception.
“While I ordered this review after Oakden, there have been other high-profile aged care failures which have highlighted where parts of our systems have sadly let us down.”
“The overwhelming majority of facilities provide excellent care and are working to continually improve services, but our focus must be on those that are not delivering.”
“The old process of notifying providers ahead of subsequent re-accreditation reviews will go, replaced by comprehensive unannounced visits conducted over at least two days.”
“The details will need to be worked through with all stakeholders, and as the Government is also considering the recommendations of the legislative review, we will need to ensure all decisions taken are integrated.”
In response, ACSA, the Aged Care Guild and LASA issued a joint press release confirming they will work with government on proposed reforms to the quality regulatory processes in mutual support of the future of quality aged care in Australia.
“As a sector, providers need to ensure that catastrophic breaches of those standards, such as those identified at the Makk and McLeay wards in the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service, a facility operated by government, must never happen again.”
“Our commitment to ensuring that outcome is emphatic and we will work with the government to support initiatives that are effective in reaching this end,” the CEOs said, noting that regulation must also provide the right conditions for service innovation to thrive.
View the full review report here.