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Call to examine performance of Aged Care Quality Agency

Seniors and aged care providers say the government must act on systemic failures in regulatory oversight and study role of quality agency following Senate report.

Council on the Ageing Australia said Tuesday’s interim report from the Senate committee examining aged care accreditation had highlighted the failure of regulatory authorities to pick-up poor practices and the need for more stringent accreditation practices and support for whistle-blowers.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that the catastrophic failures at Oakden would never have come to light without the persistence of the families,” said COTA chief Ian Yates of the South Australian facility.

“It’s beyond appalling that it took the death of Bob Spriggs for that to happen.”

Mr Yates pointed out that the aged care wings at Oakden had received accreditation despite a long history of incidents which demonstrated “systemic failures” that had to be urgently addressed.

“Alarmingly the committee said it cannot be confident that there are not other aged care facilities where abuse and neglect are occurring elsewhere in Australia,” he said.

The Senate committee’s interim report, alongside the findings from the recent Carnell Paterson and Tune reviews highlighted the need for “urgent action to tighten accreditation requirements and change how residential aged care is regulated in Australia,” Mr Yates said.

Agency’s role in focus

Provider peak Aged and Community Services Australia urged the Senate committee to “closely consider the role of the quality agency in upholding the standards the community expects in aged care.”

ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow said the comprehensive account of the failures of care at Oakden identified in the report underscore the importance of having an accreditation system that works for the protection of older Australians in aged care.

“It’s vital that those receiving and providing care are supported by firm but fair regulation that protects those principles, as well as identifying and punishing abuse and neglect where they occur.

“The community, and the industry, relies on the proper functioning of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency for the upkeep of those standards, and we urge the review to continue to look into the efficacy of the agency in this role.”

While an aged care provider is at fault when care standards are poor, the role of the agency is to identify and address this for the residents, the community and the industry, she said.

“This report identifies numerous failures in the role. These must be addressed to ensure the community, and the sector, can continue to have confidence in the agency’s role upholding safety and quality for all those relying on aged care,” Ms Sparrow said.

Similarly, fellow provider peak Leading Age Services Australia said the report “calls into question” the roles played by the aged care quality regulator as well as the relevant South Australian agencies.

“This also gives rise to concerns regarding the regulator’s ability to effectively apply the aged care system’s quality and oversight frameworks more broadly, which the committee has said will be further investigated,” said LASA chief Sean Rooney.

“Age services providers, government and the community all share a desire for a high-performing aged care sector. The concerns identified in the interim report must be addressed in order to retain the confidence across older Australians, their families, providers of age services and the wider community,” Mr Rooney said.

RELATED COVERAGE: Senate backs call for overhaul of aged care oversight

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9 Responses to Call to examine performance of Aged Care Quality Agency

  1. Janet Lawrence February 16, 2018 at 9:03 pm #

    I have worked for the Aged Care Quality Agency since 2000 to present and while there has been some improvement The Agency now known as AACQA is not addressing the elephant in the room. They are several reasons for which I will not outline in this reply but more than happy to be consulted and be part of the changes that must take place, starting from looking at the top people in the Quality Agency and how they address assessors raising issues of concern. It appears the Agency work in favour of the Providers, perhaps afraid of their reputation, and or to be seen by the government that they are doing a great job, while there are pockets of discontent in the community. The quality assessors who worked for years had made so much improvement but in the last few years, and the dismantling of the Panel of Commonwealth Administrators and Advisors which was an independent body was a mistake. As the Quality Agency chose to take on this role which was a conflict of interest and ineffective. As many of them are not qualified Registered Nurses with Aged Care expertise and knowledge. From experience, I do not believe that some assessors are being heard. My comment is consistent with reports in The Age 15th February 2018.

  2. Louise Hall February 17, 2018 at 7:43 am #

    The time has come for aged care to have an overhall staff to resident ratio needs urgently looking at so total and full quality detailed care can be offered by the dedicated staff

  3. concerned aged care worker February 17, 2018 at 11:29 am #

    Staff are forced to lie to accreditors in order keep their jobs and for the facility to pass…. Accreditors only look at paper work not resident care

  4. julieta macri February 19, 2018 at 11:24 am #

    As an age care nurse, I have seen it all, there, is no transparency in regards to Government funding. Our elderly suffer, at the hands of fancy age care facilities, with no nurses.
    A ratio of one nurse per 40 residents or more is disgusting.
    Where is the duty of care for the resident or for the only nurse on duty.

  5. Michael February 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm #

    Accreditation was rejected as the only aged care regulator in the USA in the 1980s. It has never been an effective regulatory process, there or in Australia. Central systems of regulation that depend on ‘fly in fly out visits’ have been suboptimal in other countries too.

    Aged Care Crisis is urging the minister to separate regulation from accreditation and to include an empowered local visitors scheme, regularly on site as part of the everyday operation of facilities and responsible to local communities as well as government. Early detection of problems and prompt local action could become the norm.

    Care is increasingly being provided in local communities and homes. In such a vulnerable sector an arm of regulation needs to be much closer to where the care is given. It should work with communities as well as providers.

  6. David February 19, 2018 at 6:29 pm #

    25 plus years ago I was one of many Commonwealth Medical Officers who visited every Nursing Home in Australia at least once a year. We knew which were good and those that needed to improve – and we documented our findings.

    We were all replaced with ‘teams’ and then later accreditation standards.

    You need to have dedicated medical investigators (with nurses and allied health as well) going in, standing and watching, looking and learning about the care provided to patients, checking their records, confronting the GP’s, talking to families and patients and arriving unannounced. Yes, have your standards and quality assurance, but get experts who are not fearful to look under the blankets, into the cupboards, turn up at night and confront poor performance where it can be seen. Determining if they can find the money to fix the problems – well that is quite another question!

  7. Margaret February 21, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    Inconsistency across the states in regards to how the accreditation standards are implemented and audited is another issue that needs to be addressed urgently.

  8. Ted Wards February 28, 2018 at 11:02 am #

    Its interesting that no one is actually looking at the responsibility of the residential care place itself. If they are failing its from bad management and run by people who look at profit only and I dont see how that blame can be laid at a regulation agency. Yes they are responsible for accreditation but they can only act within those standards. Perhaps what needs to be looked at is the residental care place practices of hiring cheap and under qualified staff that cant speak English, the rotten food they serve and so on. There needs to be tough severe penalties and any place where someone dies because of the neglect of staff and it is proven, they should be shut down immediately. There is no excuse for bad management anymore and we need to be tougher on this. There are now many cases documented on facebook and other social media of death from neglect, we can’t act quick enough!

  9. Zoe Hutchinson March 5, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Open the accreditation process up to independent bodies to undertake the onsite accreditation visits – professional surveyors so that the body writing the standards are not auditing against their own work. This would also help the huge costs that the industry currently has to pay to undergo accreditation and spot checks it would also ensure that the audit covers 24 hours and weekends.

    The accreditation bodies should be also held to account and would also be accredited along with the accreditors/ surveyors.
    They (the auditors) need to able to demonstrate that they hold current industry / clinical & non clinical knowledge particularly good knowledge of governance practices, and should be audited whilst on audit by an independent body like JAZANZ.

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