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Compliance Management Insights - June 2024

Peter Edwards, Executive Director, Financial and Prudential Regulation

Understanding the Commission’s powers to revoke provider approval

In a past Compliance Management Insights post, I mentioned that a future post would discuss how the Commission uses of one of our most significant powers – the power to revoke. We can revoke an organisation’s approval to provide Australian Government-funded aged care.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 explains when and how we can decide to revoke the approval of a provider. Revocation cancels a provider’s right to receive an Australian Government subsidy for delivering aged care services.

The Commission and providers share the same goal: to make sure that older people can access aged care services that are safe and high quality. The way we regulate providers recognises this common goal and aims to support them to deliver safe and high-quality services. To be an effective regulator, we need to prioritise our work based on our assessment of risk.

If we identify risks at a service that require us to intervene, we will give the provider a chance to respond and fix their compliance issues. If a provider is willing to work with us, we often don’t need to use our regulatory powers to force action. Although, if a provider stops being willing to cooperate with us, we will take enforcement action if needed.

We only start to question an approved providers suitability to offer aged care after giving them a chance to make the changes needed to deliver safe, quality care.

This shows how seriously we take the step of revoking a provider’s approval. It’s not something we do without a great amount of planning. It’s essential that revoking an approved provider doesn’t create more problems. Planning is particularly important when we’re considering action against a residential aged care provider, where residents may need to move to a different aged care home if the outcome of our action leads to closure of the service.

In these situations, we manage competing risks and issues to achieve the regulatory outcome  needed to protect people receiving care. As part of the process we coordinate a range of activities to make sure those people are safe, and an organised closure or sale can take place. We work to limit risk to the people receiving care through close and regular onsite monitoring of how they’re doing, and close case management of the provider. (We also draw on specialist expertise if we need to.) This often involves us working closely with the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Although the process of revoking a provider’s approval is complex and a last resort, we must occasionally use this power to manage risk to people receiving care. Where we’re considering revoking approval, it will never come as a surprise to a provider. We’ll be clear that we’re concerned about their suitability well before we take formal action.

As I said above, we’re keen to give providers a chance to make better choices and take action before we consider revocation. But, if a provider is not able or willing to address risk , particularly where that risk is resulting in harm, then revoking their approval is an option we will consider.

Until next time,

Peter Edwards

Executive Director, Compliance Management Group

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