If you have a concern about the care you or someone else is receiving you can raise a concern or make a complaint with us on 1800 951 822.
You can also talk to someone at the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.
On this page:
- What is the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS)?
- Which aged care providers need to comply with the SIRS?
- What are reportable incidents?
- Providers must report incidents to the Commission
- How the SIRS relates to other aged care responsibilities
- SIRS resources
- How do I speak up about an incident?
- Consumers and Families panel
What is the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS)?
Senior Australians have the right to feel safe and live dignified, self-determined lives free from exploitation, violence and abuse. As a person who receives aged care, you have the right to safe and quality care.
The Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) is an initiative to help prevent and reduce the risk and occurrence of incidents of abuse and neglect of older Australians receiving Commonwealth-subsidised aged care and services.
The scheme requires providers of aged care to manage and take reasonable action to prevent incidents with a focus on the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of consumers.
This means that all aged care providers must have an effective incident management system in place and use this to continuously improve the management and prevention of incidents. In addition to having an incident management system, aged care providers must notify the Commission when reportable incidents occur.
If a serious incident happens while you are receiving care, providers must:
- check that you and others are okay, talk to you about what happened and work with you to resolve the issue
- make a record of what happened so they can learn from the incident and improve their practices
- report the incident to the Commission if appropriate.
Which aged care providers need to comply with the SIRS?
The SIRS applies to providers of Commonwealth-subsidised aged care.
The scheme commenced in residential care in April 2021.
The SIRS was extended to home services on 1 December 2022. This includes care and services delivered through:
- home care packages (home care)
- the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
- flexible care delivered in a home or community setting, including:
- Multi-Purpose Services (MPS)
- Short Term Restorative Care (STRC)
- the Transition Care Program (TCP)
- the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP).
What are reportable incidents?
There are 8 types of reportable incidents under the SIRS:
- Unreasonable use of force – like kicking, punching or rough handling
- Unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct – like stalking, making sexual advances or unwanted sexual touching
- Psychological or emotional abuse – like yelling, name calling o r ignoring
- Stealing or financial coercion by a staff member – like stealing money or pressuring you to give money
- Neglect – like not giving you the care you need to stay well
- Inappropriate use of restrictive practices – like using physical force or medication to restrict your freedom or movement
- Unexplained absence from care / missing consumers – where a care recipient goes missing
- Unexpected death – like someone dying unexpectedly because they did not receive proper care and services.
Under the SIRS, an allegation, suspicion, or witness account of any of the above serious incidents must be reported to the Commission.
Providers must report incidents to the Commission
Aged care providers must notify the Commission about reportable incidents. The SIRS categorises incidents as either Priority 1 or Priority 2.
Providers must report all Priority 1 reportable incidents to the Commission within 24 hours of them becoming aware of the reportable incident.
Priority 2 reportable incidents must be reported to the Commission within 30 days of a provider becoming aware of the reportable incident.
How the SIRS relates to other aged care responsibilities
The SIRS sits alongside, and complements, other legislative requirements that aged care providers must meet.
All providers must comply with the Aged Care Quality Standards which clearly outline the standards of care a person who receives aged care can expect.
A provider is also legally required to help you understand your rights under the Charter of Aged Care Rights.
From 1 December 2022, a Code of Conduct for Aged Care now applies to providers, their governing persons and aged care workers to improve the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life for people receiving aged care and to boost trust in services.
Taken together, these requirements reinforce the importance of aged care providers having an effective incident management system in place to better protect the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of the people they support.
To access more information please visit our dedicated SIRS consumer resources page.
How do I speak up about an incident?
As a recipient of aged care, you have the right to safe, quality care and to live without abuse or neglect. It’s always okay to speak up if you are concerned about an issue or incident.
Complaints are a vital tool in helping to improve the quality of care and services you, or someone you care for, are receiving.
It is also important to note that your feedback can help keep other people safe too and enable them to receive best practice care and services.
All aged care providers are required to have a complaints system in place.
Raise your concern with your provider
If you feel comfortable, you can raise your concern directly with the staff or managers at your aged care service first. This is often the best way to have your concerns resolved quickly and easily.
The Commission is here to support you
If this doesn’t work, or you don’t feel comfortable, we are here to support you and to help resolve any concerns with your aged care provider.
We provide a free and confidential service to enable you to raise a concern, or make a complaint, about a Commonwealth-subsidised aged care provider.
You can find out more by calling us on 1800 951 822.
Accessing the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)
The OPAN supports senior Australians and their representatives to effectively access and interact with Commonwealth-subsidised aged care services and have their rights protected.
You can call OPAN on 1800 700 600 or visit opan.org.au.
Consumers and Families panel
We have established a panel of people who use or are thinking of using Commonwealth-subsidised aged care services, their carers and family members.
We want to know what is important to you, so we can improve how we regulate aged care, and make sure the information we produce is useful and easy to understand.
For more information about the panel, or to register your interest in joining, visit our Consumers and Families panel page.