About the program
The National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) became compulsory on 1 July 2019.
It is a mandatory program for Commonwealth-subsidised residential aged care services, made so under the 2019 Federal Budget MeasureMore Choices for a Longer Life – Mandatory National Quality Indicators.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) publishes quarterly quality indicator data at a national, state and territory level on the GEN Aged Care Data website.
The QI Program aims to support providers to measure and monitor their performance, support continuous quality improvement and contribute to improved outcomes for consumers.
The QI Program will, over time, give consumers transparent information about quality in aged care to assist them in making more informed decisions about their aged care.
More information about the program is available on the Department of Health website.
What are the quality indicators?
Until 30 June 2021
Currently, for each residential aged care consumer, services must measure and report on:
- pressure injuries
- use of physical restraint
- unplanned weight loss.
Services must collect information against these 3 indicators until 30 June 2021. The April–June 2021 quarter information must then be submitted by 21 July 2021.
From 1 July 2021
From 1 July 2021, the QI Program is being updated and expanded to include new quality indicators so services will need to collect data and report on:
- pressure injuries
- physical restraint
- unplanned weight loss
- falls and major injury (new)
- medication management (new) including polypharmacy and anti-psychotics.
Services must collect information against these 5 indicators from 1 July 2021. This data will need to be represented as a percentage of aged care recipients who experienced each quality indicator. The July–September 2021 quarter information must then be submitted by 21 October 2021.
Providers must submit their data through the Department of Health’s My Aged Care service provider portal.
Where a commercial benchmarking company continues to submit the data on behalf of a service, the provider remains responsible for making sure the data is both accurate and submitted by the required dates.
Why is the program important?
The QI Program is important because it measures aspects of quality of care which may affect residential consumers’ health and wellbeing.
- helps aged care service providers to measure, monitor, compare and improve the quality of their services. They can then identify trends in their performance over time and compare themselves against national averages. This will lead to an even better quality of care and quality of life for consumers
- provides nationally comparable quality indicator data across residential care services in Australia
- creates an evidence base to make quality improvement initiatives simpler.
Over time, the program will enhance how aged care consumers understand quality in residential care services because they can access better information.
Who oversees the QI Program?
Management of certain aspects of the QI Program transitioned from the Department of Health to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) on 1 October 2020.
The Commission’s role in the QI Program includes:
- educating and communicating with providers about the QI Program
- encouraging and monitoring compliance with the program
- integrating QI Program data more broadly into our regulatory activities
- analysing and reporting on quality indicator data in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The quality indicator data provided by residential aged care service providers is used to guide our regulatory activities. The data is important to providers and to the Commission. While we will work with providers to help them understand how to comply with the upcoming changes to the QI Program, the Commission’s approach to non-reporting of information can be found in our Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
The policy functions of the QI Program were retained by the Department of Health including:
- development and implementation of new and revised quality indicators
- development of communication and guidance materials for new quality indicators
- operation and enhancement of the My Aged Care platform
- legislative changes to the Accountability Principles 2014 and the Records Principles 2014.
The following principles under the Aged Care Act 1997 were amended to make the QI Program mandatory:
Providers continue to send reports to the Secretary of the Department of Health. The Department of Health discloses QI Program data to the Commission under section 86-3(1)(ba) of the Aged Care Act 1997. This allows the Commission to perform its functions under the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018.
QI Program manual
The Department of Health owns the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program Manual for the current quality indicators. It includes the definitions for each quality indicator and explains how to collect and submit quality indicator data.
The department has updated the manual to reflect the QI Program expansion from 1 July 2021. Please note that the updated data recording templates referred to in the manual are still under development by the department and will be made available on their website in due course.
Other program resources can be found on the Department of Health website.
Additional guidance materials about the expanded program (including quick reference guides, data recording templates and instructions, and frequently asked questions) will be released in the lead-up to 1 July.
A number of reviews and reports have supported a mandatory and expanded QI Program, including the Review of national aged care quality regulatory processes (Carnell/Paterson, 2017).
Government-subsidised aged care service providers and assessors can call the Department of Health’s helpline to get assistance with the provider and assessor portals and the QI Program.
Call 1800 836 799 from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday or from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday.