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Wyatt releases options for aged care quality framework


Aged care organisations could disclose performance issues in return for less intensive external assessment under proposals released by government.

These features are in addition to expanding review audits and unannounced site visits and are among several new proposed methods of assessing provider performance against common standards for all government-subsidised aged care services.

The new streamlined approach aims to better target assessment activities including how often they happen and what they cover, be risk-based and reflect best practice regulation while protecting consumers and reducing red tape for providers.

As reported by AAA, changes to how providers would be assessed and monitored including different levels depending on an organisation’s history of compliance and nature of services was flagged by the Department of Health in October (read that story here).

The government is set to introduce a new single quality framework from July 2018 that features a single set of standards for all aged care services replacing the four sets currently covering residential care, home care, transition care and Aboriginal flexible aged care.

The Federal Government released two discussion papers on Thursday seeking feedback on the draft standards and three options for streamlining the assessment of provider performance against these draft standards ahead of its plans to pilot the new approach.

Consumer the focus of provider performance assessments

One of the proposed options is a single risk-based assessment process applicable to all aged care settings where the extent of compliance monitoring would be proportionate to the health and safety risk to consumers, the organisation’s compliance history and accreditation through other relevant schemes, such as under health or disability standards.

Another option is an improved version of current arrangements using different quality assessment approaches for residential and home settings.

The key changes are the single set of standards and wider range of methods for assessing performance plus capacity for the quality agency to recognise compliance with similar standards, greater consumer involvement and information for clients about assessment outcomes.

The third option features a safety and quality declaration by organisations providing low risk services available broadly such as gardening or domestic assistance. This option could be combined with the other two options, according to the proposal.

Consumer outcomes are the central focus of the draft standards which are made up of eight individual standards, all of which refer to the consumer’s needs, goals and preferences.

They are:

  1. consumer dignity, autonomy and choice
  2. ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
  3. delivering personal care and clinical care
  4. delivering lifestyle services and supports
  5. service environment
  6. feedback and complaints
  7. human resources
  8. organisational governance

As previously reported, the new standards are demonstrated in three ways: a statement of outcome for the consumer; a statement of expectation for the organisation; and operational requirements to demonstrate the standard has been met.

The government’s proposal highlights that the standards have been designed to operate together, and should be read together, but that some standards would only apply where the organisation is providing those particular types of care and services.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said he wanted to hear from anyone interested in the quality of aged care, including people who use or provide aged care services.

“What we are proposing will affect consumers, their families and carers, aged care organisations, staff of organisations, and other professionals in the aged care sector and related sectors. We want to hear if we’ve got it right.”

Submissions close Friday 21 April 2017.

Information on the proposed draft standards is available here and on the options for assessing performance here.

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