The Commonwealth has launched an independent review to determine how federal regulators failed to detect the scale of the issues at South Australia’s Oakden facility.
In a damning review the state’s Chief Psychiatrist said the facility was “more like a mental institution from the middle of last century” than a modern older person’s mental health facility.
He called for the centre to be closed and replaced by more contemporary services after highlighting a range of concerns around the model of care, staffing, safety, culture and use of restrictive practices.
Last week the State Government said it was closing the centre and would develop a new state-wide model of care for older people experiencing several behavioural and psychosocial symptoms of dementia (BPSD).
After weekend media reports questioning how federal regulators failed to identify the seriousness of the issues at the centre, the Commonwealth on Monday announced a new review into its aged care regulatory processes.
Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the review would identify any shortcomings in the national regulatory system that meant that the Commonwealth was not aware of the extent of the problems at Oakden.
He confirmed the Department of Health and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency had been “working with” the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, the facility’s operators, to address the standards at the aged care wings – the Makk and McLeay wards.
The Federal Government had already imposed sanctions on North Adelaide Local Health Network to get better compliance, he said.
Minister Wyatt also revealed the Federal Department of Health had received complaints and had “ongoing contact” with this facility in the past.
“This review will, therefore, consider how the extent of the issues had not become clearer to us,” he said.
Review to ‘identify gaps’
Critics of the aged care accreditation system have persistently described it as a “tick box” exercise that focuses too much on providers demonstrating compliance through paperwork rather than evaluating actual care outcomes.
Mr Wyatt said the review needed to identify any gaps or deficiencies in the Commonwealth’s aged care regulatory system which might have prevented the “early detection and swift remediation” of failures in care at the Makk and McLeay wards.
The review would look at the role of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Department of Health.
Terms of reference for the review have been developed and independent reviewers will be announced in coming days, he said.
The review is to report to government by 31 August 2017.
The new review comes as the Commonwealth moves to implement a streamlined aged care quality framework from next year.
The proposed changes would see different levels of assessment and monitoring for providers depending on their history of compliance and nature of services (read AAA’s story here).
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