Information about assessment contacts being conducted at aged care providers, including recent updates to the scope.
The information on this page is for residential care services, home care services, Commonwealth Home Support Programme services and flexible care services through which short-term restorative care is provided.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program services will have assessment contacts under the Quality Framework.
Key changes for aged care providers
Transition to the new Aged Care Quality Standards
From 1 July 2019, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will commence assessment and monitoring against the new Aged Care Quality Standards (Standards).
Please see our Transitioning to the new Standards page where you can access a transitional arrangements fact sheet about the key changes impacting providers.
Commission Act and Rules
For information about key changes impacting providers following the establishment of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1 January 2019, please see our Key Changes page. You can use this page to access fact sheets, including the following:
- Assessment contacts key changes fact sheet
- Consent to access premises key changes fact sheet
- Transitional arrangements key changes fact sheet
What is an assessment contact?
Assessment contacts are activities conducted by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission) to monitor the quality of care and services provided through aged care services. Assessment contact means any form of contact other than a site audit, review audit or quality review between the Aged Care Quality ans Safety Commissioner (Commissioner)/delegate or a quality assessor and the provider of the service.
Determining the arrangements for assessment contacts is a regulatory decision made by the Commission, this includes determining when an assessment contact will be conducted and for what purposes. Assessment contacts can be made with notice to a provider (announced) or without notice to a provider (unannounced). The form that the assessment contact takes is determined by the Commission and may include phone discussions, emails or a visit.
Purposes for conducting an assessment contact
Assessment contacts may be conducted for one or more of the following purposes:
- to assess the provider in relation to the service against the applicable standards
- to assist the provider’s process of continuous improvement
- to identify whether a more detailed review is required (in the form of a review audit or quality review, as applicable)
- to give the provider additional information or education.
Notifying care recipients of the assessment contact
When an assessment contact is to be conducted by the Commission in the form of a visit there may be requirements for providers to inform care recipients of the service, and the nominated representatives about the visit. The posters and form of words to be used for this purpose are available. Please see our Letters and Posters for this information and translated versions in various community languages.
Consent to enter premises
Upon arrival at the premises of a site the Commissioner/delegate or quality assessors will request consent to enter the premises and exercise search powers for the purpose of conducting an assessment contact. The quality assessors will show their credentials and give the person in charge at the premises a letter confirming the visit.
Requesting information or documents for assessment contacts
The Commissioner/delegate or a quality assessor may request from a provider information or documents relating to the purposes of an assessment contact where the contact does not include a visit to the premises of the service.
For example, the Commissioner may request via email that a provider submit self-assessment information for the purpose of assessing the provider in relation to the service against the applicable standards. A provider must provide this information when requested.
The self-assessment information means written information that demonstrates a provider’s performance, in relation to the service, against the applicable standards. Click here to access the Commission’s self-assessment tool.
Outcome of an assessment contact
Where an assessment contact has been conducted, the provider will be notified in writing within 21 days after the assessment contact of any areas in which improvements must be made to meet the applicable standards including the timetable for making those improvements.
Varying arrangements for assessment contacts
The Commissioner may vary arrangements for assessment contacts that were previously notified to the provider. The Commissioner must provide written notice to the provider of these changes.
Assessment contacts for residential aged care services
The Commission has released a Regulatory Bulletin on assessment contacts in residential aged care. Please refer to this bulletin for more information about the processes and responsibilities in relation to assessment contacts in accredited services.
Exclusion of specific dates for unannounced activities
Approved providers are able to request specific dates be excluded for unannounced activities (excluded dates) in residential aged care. Although the Commission does not guarantee visits will not occur on those days, the Commission will consider these dates in scheduling activities.
The Commission has released a Regulatory Bulletin outlining the Commission’s policy regarding approved provider requests to exclude specific dates for unannounced activities.
Determining the scope of unannounced assessment contacts
Unannounced assessment contacts are undertaken for the purposes of assessing a service’s performance against the standards, or to identify whether there is a need for a review audit/quality review of the service.
The focus of unannounced assessment contacts will be on known areas of risk which may include:
- areas identified from previous assessment activities
- expected outcomes of the standards that are most frequently not met across the sector
- risk based campaigns such as infection control.
To determine the focus of the unannounced assessment contact, the assessment team will interview the person in charge of the service which includes asking the following questions to identify key areas of risk:
- Have there been any adverse findings by another regulatory agency or oversight body in the last 12 months? (e.g. Healthcare complaints commission or similar, Food safety authority, Workcover etc).
- What trends do your complaints data show you?
- How many consumers are receiving pressure area care?
- Have there been any medication incidents in the past 6 months where a consumer required hospitalisation or attention by a medical officer?
- How many consumers have had falls and required medical attention in the past 3 months?
- How many consumers at the service are currently receiving psychotropic medications? (To be captured as a rate or percent of total consumers at the service.) How many consumers are restrained in order to manage risks to themselves or others at the service? (To be captured as a rate or percent of total consumers at the service.)
- Can you tell me about incidents in the past 6 months where a consumer or staff member has required medical attention as a result of a challenging behaviour from a consumer?
Current focus of unannounced assessment contacts
The expected outcomes that are the current focus of unannounced assessment contacts and are most frequently not met across the sector are:
- Expected outcome 1.6 Human resource management
- Expected outcome 1.8 Information systems
- Expected outcome 2.4 Clinical care
- Expected outcome 2.7 Medication management
- Expected outcome 2.8 Pain management
- Expected outcome 2.11 Skin care
- Expected outcome 2.13 Behavioural management
- Expected outcome 3.2 Regulatory compliance
- Expected outcome 3.6 Privacy and dignity
- Expected outcome 4.4 Living environment
This information is for the period of July 2018 to October 2018 and is current as at 19 November 2018.
Assessment contacts with home services
If a provider has services that deliver home care, the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or short term restorative care, the Commissioner may conduct assessment contacts to the services at the same time.