1 July was an important milestone in aged care reform in Australia, marking the commencement of the new Aged Care Quality Standards and Charter of Aged Care Rights. There's no doubt that the period leading up to July involved significant focused effort by both aged care providers and the Commission, and that effort is continuing. Initial feedback from providers about assessment against the new standards has been positive overall, and the enthusiasm for implementation demonstrated by some providers has been very encouraging.
The Commission continues to add to the extensive guidance and resource material now available at our website to assist and support providers to implement the new Standards and to get ready to be assessed against them.
In this regard, we are currently developing an online Aged Care Learning Information System (ALIS) that will be available to all aged care services later this year. The initial modules will focus on the new Standards and support providers in their continued improvement.
We also have a new mobile app under development that will provide a quick reference to providers on the requirements of the new Standards. This will soon be available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play.
Other important resources - in the form of factsheets and a toolkit related to clinical governance in aged care - have been recently loaded onto our website. Quality Standard 8 makes specific reference to the need for an aged care service to have a clinical governance framework where clinical care is being provided to aged care consumers. The published resources provide guidance on the development and implementation of such a framework. You can read about this, and more, in this edition of the newsletter.
From the Minister...
The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck, has described the new Aged Care Quality Standards introduced on 1 July as comprehensive reforms designed to protect and improve the lives of senior Australians in care.
“Senior Australians must have choice and flexibility in the care they receive. It should be easy to understand what they can expect from their aged care service. Therefore, our Government has delivered these new Aged Care Quality Standards,” he said.
Sector stakeholders welcome new Quality Standards
Australia’s aged care provider and consumer representative organisations have welcomed the new aged care Quality Standards.
Leading Age Services Australia’s CEO Sean Rooney said the new standards focus on outcomes for older Australians and reflect the level of care and quality of services the community expects.
“Rather than just focusing on processes, the structure of the standards allows assessment and monitoring to focus on consumer outcomes,” he said.
They consider the evidence of the consumer’s experience - and the systems and processes an organisation has in place to support safe, high quality care and services.
Aged & Community Services Australia’s CEO Pat Sparrow said standards which focus more on the individual are an important step forward in how quality care is delivered to older Australians.
“Aged care providers have engaged fully in the consultation process to develop the standards and have been working hard to be ready for their implementation."
COTA Australia’s Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said his organisation looked forward to increased transparency and accountability in the sector, which were the intrinsically required by the new Standards.
“The new Standards and Charter of Rights put consumers at the heart of aged care, just as they should be,” he said. “Older Australians have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in all aspects of their lives in aged care."
Clinical governance resources now available
Clinical care is an integral component of the care received by many aged care consumers, and ensuring the quality and safety of clinical care is a key priority for all stakeholders. This is reflected in the new Quality Standards, which require aged care services that provide clinical care to demonstrate their use of a clinical governance framework.
The Commission has recently released a set of resources to help aged care providers to understand the concept of clinical governance and how this should be applied in their service. The resources were developed in consultation with more than 20 industry stakeholders.
Clinical governance is an integrated set of leadership behaviours, policies, procedures, responsibilities, relationships, planning, monitoring and improvement mechanisms that are implemented to support safe, quality clinical care and good clinical outcomes for each consumer.
The resources include a series of fact sheets:
- Introduction to clinical governance;
- Clinical governance and the Aged Care Quality Standards;
- Core elements of clinical governance; and
- Roles and responsibilities for clinical governance.
A toolkit is also available. It is designed to help aged care providers develop a clinical governance framework that fits their service.
Aged care performance statistics now available
The Commission has begun publishing quarterly data highlighting the sector’s regulatory and complaints performance for residential, home care and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services. Data for January – March 2019 is now available and the following quarter’s results will be published shortly.
In the 2019 January-March quarter, the Commission conducted 249 site audits and 1,096 assessment contacts of residential aged care services. The most frequently not met expected outcomes found in audits against the Accreditation Standards were human resource management, behavioural management, information systems, clinical care and skin care.
In the same period, there were 1,633 complaints about residential care, with the most frequently cited issues being: medication management (235), falls prevention and post-fall management (164), personnel number/sufficiency (157), personnel behaviour/conduct (137) and constipation and continence management (115).
The Commission also conducted 145 quality reviews and 128 assessment contacts of home services. The most frequently not met expected outcomes in quality reviews were regulatory compliance, service user reassessment, care plan development and delivery, information provision and information management systems.
The Commission received 562 complaints about home services, with the most frequently cited issues being: financial fees and charges (114), consultation and communication (96), client assessment and service (72), management of finances (46), domestic assistance (39) and financial statements (39).
This first set of data reflects performance against Standards superseded by the introduction on 1 July 2019 of new Aged Care Quality Standards. Archived data for the period July – December 2018 is also available.
Keep an eye out for regular publication of sector date each quarter.
View data from January to March 2019.
Online resources to help you get to know the Standards
The Commission is currently developing two new online solutions to support learning about the new Standards - an online learning portal named ALIS (Aged Care Learning Information Solution) and an app which will be available for download through the App Store and Google Play.
ALIS will be available later this year, with initial modules focused on the new Standards. Content is planned to be expanded to help aged care service providers to:
- demonstrate performance against the Aged Care Quality Standards;
- deliver safe and quality care and services; and
- demonstrate tangible positive outcomes for consumers.
Approved aged care services will soon receive an email inviting them to become involved with the online solution. The email will include instructions on how to accept an initial four free registrations for your service(s) and details on user fees that apply after the trial. How to nominate a service level contact as the administrator will also be advised.
Administrators will have access to a dashboard and reporting functions which will provide a real time picture of your staff’s engagement with and completion of the modules.
The Aged Care Quality Standards app will support aged care providers, staff, consumers and others to access a copy of the new Standards from mobile devices. The new, free app will soon be available for download from the App Store and Google Play.
For more information on ALIS and registration please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mandatory Flu Vaccination Program reminder
Residential aged care service providers are reminded of the mandatory flu vaccination program you are required to have in place. Your program must:
- provide staff and volunteers of the service with access to a free flu vaccination on an annual basis. Vaccinations can be offered either:
- directly, for example, with vaccinations provided on site; or
- indirectly, for example, making arrangements for staff to be able to access a vaccine at a local chemist or general practitioner
- actively promote the benefits of an annual vaccination for your staff and volunteers, and for the health outcomes of care recipients
- keep records of the number of staff that receive a flu vaccination each year (whether or not under your service’s flu vaccination scheme)
For your residents, flu vaccinations are free and very strongly recommended. Efforts by aged care providers to encourage and support all consumers to access the flu vaccination in a timely manner are an important infection control measure.
A series of up to date Commonwealth and State information resources about flu outbreak prevention and control can be found on the Commission website.
New Standards education video tops 50,000 views
More than 50,000 people have watched the "Aged Care Quality Standards" video, produced in collaboration with Altura Learning and the Commission.
Since its launch on 24 April until 17 July, 53,256 people had viewed the 30-minute video – the highest ratings of a video produced by Altura Learning.
Feedback suggests it is helping viewers to understand how the new Standards introduced on July 1 will affect Australia's aged care sector.
Altura Learning members have written:
- “The video was easy to watch, and its information was easy to understand”
- “I learnt that we should give our consumers a voice to choose and decide”
- “It helps the consumer improve their quality of life”
- “Simple and to the point”
- “Enhances our knowledge to provide good quality service”
One viewer also wrote: "Thank you for giving me a greater awareness of my responsibility as a carer".
Educational resources about the new Quality Standards continue to be available. The Commission has recently translated a new Standards poster and the consumer video, “What the new Aged Care Quality Standards mean for me” into 24 languages to support consumers and staff.
All resources are available from the “Resources” section of the Commission website.
A webinar on the aged care reforms is also available to view on the My Aged Care website.
Give us your feedback – confidentially
The Commission is committed to undertaking consistent, fair and transparent assessments to help deliver high quality outcomes for consumers – and we want to learn from providers how well we have done our job and where we can improve.
That’s why we have updated our confidential feedback form which is given to providers at the end of an assessment activity. We want feedback to be provided in the sure knowledge that this input will not be able to be sourced to a particular provider.
The feedback form doesn’t come directly to the Commission. An envelope is given to the provider by the assessors at the end of their site visit and is pre-addressed to Australian analytical firm Datatime Services.
Datatime Services sends to the Commission providers’ observations and suggestions, with no origin information, which the Commission then uses for its own continuous improvement program.
We value feedback, and we encourage all providers to fill out the feedback form at the end of an assessment contact.
More information about assessment against the new Standards can be read here: Regulatory Bulletin.
Macular disease digital training tools
Easy-to-use digital training tools are now available to help residential aged care providers’ staff to better care for aged care consumers with vision loss and blindness.
Developed by the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, the free tools include:
- Training video for care workers;
- An accompanying resource for care workers;
- A resource for management and health professionals; and
- A resource for families and guardians for residents.
The Foundation plans an online survey later this year to gather feedback on the resources.
July/August Awareness Days
DonateLife Week - 28 July - 4 August
2019 Aged Care Employee Day - 7 August