Aged care provider peak bodies say more evidence and consideration is needed before the laws around mandatory reporting of assaults in aged care are expanded, following the Australian Law Reform Commission’s proposals for a new regime.
As Australian Ageing Agenda reported on Wednesday the ALRC proposed a new “reportable incidents scheme” in aged care that would require aged care providers to report alleged assaults to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and to investigate alleged incidents to identify any issues they needed to address (read our story here).
The ALRC also called for a broader range of abusive conduct to be covered under the new incidents scheme, and to drop the current exemption that sees residents with a pre-diagnosed cognitive impairment excluded from the mandatory reporting regime.
Aged and Community Services Australia said it “absolutely supports ensuring necessary protections against abuse” for seniors but that further analysis of the proposals is needed.
“We would like to see sufficient evidence that increasing the reporting and investigative requirements for providers would indeed provide additional protection to consumers, and not place unnecessary and unsustainable resourcing pressure on organisations,” said CEO Pat Sparrow.
Similarly, Leading Age Services Australia said that introducing additional reporting requirements “needs to be considered holistically as providers already undertake significant amounts of reporting.”
If new requirements are introduced they need to ensure that they will achieve the desired outcomes and do not increase additional red tape, said LASA chief Sean Rooney.
Council on the Ageing Australia said the ALRC’s proposals are well thought through and worth serious consideration.
“They have to be seen as a comprehensive overall package – for example, a prevalence study will include aged care. We don’t really know the scale of the issue,” said COTA chief Ian Yates.
On the face of it the aged care proposals are sound and well based in analysis and experience from other sectors, he said. “However, we need to review them closely in terms of whether they will in practice achieve what they are intended to achieve.”
Excluding residents with dementia
Mr Yates said he was in favour of the proposal to remove the current exemption excluding residents with a pre-diagnosed cognitive impairment from the mandatory reporting regime.
“It’s not about blaming the person, who may not have capacity, but of better identifying and understanding the incidents and therefore what can be done to prevent them,” he said.
ACSA said it was supportive of strategies to ensure residents with cognitive impairments are sufficiently protected but that removing the exemption may not necessarily be the answer.
“ACSA is concerned about what this would achieve,” CEO Pat Sparrow said.
“Providers put strategies in place to ensure that residents with cognitive impairments are both protected and do not commit abuses. The focus here needs to be on prevention, education and support to ensure that all such instances are effectively managed for all affected residents.
“If this recommendation is explored further, ASCA is willing to assist wherever it can to ensure that any outcome is beneficial for both consumers and providers,” she said.
Mr Rooney said LASA is a strong advocate for the delivery of safe, quality care and welcomes a national dialogue regarding elder abuse being undertaken by the ALRC.
“LASA will continue to advocate for improved systems and mechanisms to end elder abuse, and do what we can to support providers and the wider community in identifying and resolving these often complex cases,” he said.
Similarly Mr Yates said COTA will be consulting on the proposals with advocacy and elder abuse services, provider peaks and with other consumer organisations.
Related AAA coverage: Law reform commission calls for overhaul of mandatory reporting of assaults in aged care
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