Issue #1, January 2019
Welcome to the new Commission
Welcome to the first monthly newsletter for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
As part of the broader reforms occurring in the aged care sector, the Commission officially opened its doors at the beginning of January, providing a single point of contact for aged care concerns and queries.
The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, noted at the time that, “With the motto ‘Engage, Empower and Safeguard’, the Commission flags a new beginning for aged care quality and safety.”
As the inaugural Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, I am excited to be leading this important reform, and I look forward to engaging with you and providing updates each month.
This edition of the newsletter contains information on the new legislation and Rules, the new Quality Standards and some areas of particular interest, and the important complaints resolution function of the Commission.
If you have not done so already, you may wish to visit our new website (agedcarequality.gov.au) which includes details on aged care consumer rights, advocacy services to support senior Australians, Consumer Experience Reports about individual aged care services, access to audit reports, a complaints portal and new Standards resources.
I look forward to meeting with providers, consumers and the broader community, as we work collaboratively to protect and enhance the safety, health, well-being and quality of life of people receiving aged care.
Ms Janet Anderson PSM
New Rules to support the work of the Commission
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 supports greater consistency in our regulatory process, and improved responsiveness to instances of poor care and service delivery. The new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018 apply to all aged care services subsidised by the Australian Government.
Both these new legislative instruments came into effect 1 January 2019. The Act outlines the new Commission’s role and functions, and the Rules give operational effect to the Commission’s processes. The new Rules replace the Principles applied to the former Quality Agency and Complaints Commissioner.
We encourage you to familiarise yourself with these changes and take note of how they may impact on your service. The Commission will be providing further information to the sector on the processes under the new Rules over the coming months.
Standards events filling fast – don’t miss out!
Update: These events have now sold out.
Is your aged care service ready for the introduction of the new Aged Care Quality Standards from 1 July 2019?
Our program of “Preparing for the new Standards” events kick off from 14 February in WA, with an event to be held in each state. Each one-day event has been designed to provide practical support to aged care providers through this transition period.
The program will support providers to consider how the new Standards will influence their practices, consider ways to enhance their consumer focus, measure and evaluate activities against the new Standards and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.
During the event, our Commissioner, Janet Anderson will address delegates and provide information about the functions of the new Commission. She will also outline arrangements for transition to the new Aged Care Quality Standards.
Events are filling up quickly, so be sure to reserve your place. If you have missed out, keep an eye out for our standalone workshops which will open for registration soon.
Checking your readiness for the new Standards
The Commission has launched a new Self-Assessment Guidance Tool to assist providers of Commonwealth subsidised aged care services to understand and self-assess their performance against the new Aged Care Quality Standards commencing 1 July 2019.
The self-assessment template and guidance was developed in consultation with stakeholders and has been tested with aged care service providers. The new Self-Assessment Guidance Tool will replace existing guidance on self-assessment once the new Standards come into effect.
You are not required to submit self-assessment information against the new Aged Care Quality Standards prior to 1 July 2019, however all providers are encouraged to use this useful resource in preparation for the introduction of the new Standards.
The usual arrangements for submission of self-assessment information with your re-accreditation application will apply with the new Standards once they take effect.
Transitional rules for the new standards
The Department of Health, in consultation with the Commission, is currently preparing transitional rules for the implementation of the new Standards from 1 July 2019. Commission reminder notices for reaccreditation will provide details on the application of the new Standards, and transitional arrangements will soon be available on the Commission and Department of Health websites.
New Qassist module
We have also published a new Qassist module - Getting to Know the Standards for aged care staff. The resource encourages staff to discuss and reflect on how their role supports the organisation to demonstrate performance against the new Standards.
Use of restraints in aged care
The Commission has recently sharpened its focus on the use of restraints in residential aged care, and providers can now expect that they will be specifically asked about restrictive practices during monitoring visits.
At unannounced assessment visits, providers will be asked how many residents at the service are currently receiving psychotropic medications and how many are physically restrained. This is in order to better understand whether these measures are being used in accordance with best practice.
Commissioner Janet Anderson said: “As the national regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission responds quickly to identified issues and concerns and welcomes contact from anyone concerned about their loved ones in aged care services.
“My assessment teams are looking for evidence such as the presence of informed consent from the consumer or a properly authorised person. We want to see that the service is applying best practice in matters such as effective clinical governance, regular review by health professionals, pharmacists, and communication with the general practitioner or geriatrician, and that records are kept of the outcome of these reviews.”
The Commission requires all residential aged care services to demonstrate that alternative strategies are used to manage challenging behaviours, and where restraints are required, that they are consistent with best practice guidance.
In response to recent concerns, Minister Wyatt has also issued a statement underscoring the close attention being given to this matter.
View updated questions for Assessment Contacts.
View Ministerial announcement.
View Commission announcement.
New Standards: Dignity of Risk
The new Aged Care Quality Standards require providers to effectively manage risks associated with the care of consumers. This means managing the boundary between risks to a consumer's safety, health or well-being, and their right to make decisions about their care.
In managing risks, it is useful for organisations to think about how cultures, systems and processes can protect us against risks, investigate risk management options, encourage consumers to be a partner in decisions (including those with communication and cognitive difficulties), and provide options for care with flexibility in areas such a scheduling and physical environment.
It's important for organisations to recognise that risk management in care is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Standard 1 questions to consider:
- What tools does my organisation use to understand and manage risks in a way that supports a consumer's dignity, autonomy and choice?
- How is this recorded in their care plan?
- How does my organisation support the workforce to respect a consumer's choices?
Why complaints are important
The majority of service providers do their best to provide quality care and services, however issues can occur and people need to be able to raise their concerns in a constructive and supported way.
Complaints are important to help providers continuously improve their quality of care and services. We encourage people to raise concerns with the provider first, which can help achieve a faster and sustainable resolution quickly. If the issue is not resolved, or people feel uncomfortable about raising their concern directly, we are ready to assist.
All information received in the management of a complaint is risk assessed and may be provided to our Quality Assessors to use during a monitoring visit. If we have concerns about the safety, health or well-being of aged care recipients, this will prompt an urgent visit to the facility.
Anyone can raise a concern with us about the quality of care or service provided. This includes people receiving care, family members and friends, advocates, staff and volunteers. We are here to help, and no complaint is too big or too small.
Complaints can be made openly, confidentially or anonymously through our website or by calling 1800 951 822. Find out more or request an information session for aged care staff via: email@example.com.
Subscribe to the Aged Care Quality Bulletin for monthly updates on the latest news, announcements and events related to Australian aged care.