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Consumer outcomes and choice are central to quality: report

A greater focus on outcomes for consumers and a common core of standards across aged care are among the key messages for government from an Australian Aged Care Quality Agency report.
let's talk about quality

While protections for vulnerable people was still key, stakeholders have shown clear support for a shift from perceptions of quality based on compliance to those that emphasised consumer choice and control, including rights to “dignity of risk”.

The agency’s Let’s Talk About Quality report, released earlier this month, was developed from consultations with consumers and carers, providers, peak bodies and academics. The agency said it would inform the review of the current quality standards.

The report said a key message for government was that the quality standards should recognise what makes a difference to the quality of care for consumers, including interpersonal, social and relational aspects of care. This also included embedding active ageing and enablement principles in quality measures.

Consumers must be consulted in the review process and consumer feedback be used as one of the means to rate care and point to directions for improvement, it noted.

Moving away from compliance

The report emphasised a need for greater focus on outcomes for consumers and ways to monitor the consumer’s level of satisfaction with service choice and delivery.

As one consumer responded:

“Aged care is expensive. I should feel like the value I gain is worth what I have spent. My goals and outcomes should be measured, not just accreditation.”

There was support for an integrated set of common core minimum standards across aged care, which needed to be outcome-focused to reflect the different nature of residential and home care services, according to the report.

There was “overwhelming” support for the government to maintain a safety net for consumers by setting minimum standards. However, it noted that knowing a service was accredited did not help consumers to understand whether the provider was delivering high quality care.

Consumers felt current information supplied by government was difficult to understand and use to compare services. “Consumers appeared to be generally not aware of any helpful measure that enables comparisons among providers,” said the report.

The report noted this area generated significant discussion, including ways that minimum standards could marry with standards of excellence or rating systems to allow for useful information for consumers.

The report said most agreed that a focus on outcomes for consumers within core standards could possibly help to develop a framework to measure excellence. It was suggested government needed to consider options to differentiate performance against the standards and recognise better practice.

You can read a copy of a report here.

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