No more Oakden-style 'disasters'
A new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is being established by the federal government to tackle failures in the aged-care industry.
The commission is a response to the Carnell-Paterson review into failures at South Australia’s Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service. The review, commissioned by the Turnbull government, found the current aged-care regulatory framework is fragmented and does not adequately provide the assurance the community expects.
Launching 1 January 2019, the commission will bring together the functions of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the aged-care regulatory functions of the Department of Health.
“The unified new commission will be a responsive, one-stop shop to prevent failures, highlight quality concerns and have them quickly rectified,” Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt said. “This builds on the government’s recent introduction of unannounced re-accreditation audits across every one of Australia’s residential aged-care facilities.
“Importantly, the new commission will give senior Australians and their loved ones a single point of contact when they need help in dealing with claims of substandard care.
“Risks to senior Australians will be investigated promptly and care failures identified faster.”
A new Chief Clinical Advisor will provide advice to the commission, particularly on complex clinical matters.
Additional quality reforms announced by the federal government include:
- developing options, in consultation with the aged-care sector, for a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) to ensure the right systems are in place to identify an incident and prevent it from occurring again;
- a performance rating against quality standards;
- a user-friendly provider comparison tool on the My Aged Care website.
Aged-care industry association Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) welcomed the federal government’s reforms, in particular the commission.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said that a one-stop regulatory shop will hopefully improve information sharing across existing government agencies, minimise red tape and enable a more efficient regulatory system.
However, he expressed reservations about the value a performance rating system and SIRS would bring, explaining that the SIRS could be going too far by placing new and extended reporting responsibilities on providers without adequately considering the arrangements already in place.
“We all want a high-quality aged-care system. A system that assures the community of the safety, wellbeing and quality of life for older Australians receiving care,” Rooney said.
“Our industry expects this, and all Australians will settle for nothing less. We look forward to working with the government and other key stakeholders in the pursuit of quality system improvements in the service of older Australians.”
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