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Providers back new quality body for aged care


There is overwhelming support among not-for-profit aged care providers for the establishment of an independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, a new survey shows. 

The proposed new commission, a key recommendation of the Carnell-Paterson review of aged care regulation, is supported by 94 per cent of providers surveyed by peak body Aged and Community Services Australia.

The more powerful oversight body would assume the functions currently administered by the Aged Care Quality Agency, which providers last week called for greater oversight of following a Senate report into the Oakden scandal.

ACSA’s survey also found majority support (64 per cent) for a new “serious incident reporting scheme” as proposed by Carnell-Paterson as well as the Australian Law Reform Commission.

But support drops off for the proposed star-rating system (54 per cent in favour) and enhanced complaints handling (58 per cent in favour), the results seen by Australian Ageing Agenda show.

An extensive scheme for reporting and investigating alleged incidents in aged care was among 43 recommendations in the ALRC’s report on elder abuse last June, a third of which related to aged care (read more here).

A star-rating system and enhanced complaints handling were among 10 recommendation in Kate Carnell and Ron Paterson’s review of regulation, which was released in October (read more here).

ACSA surveyed 70 members in December about the recommendations of the Carnell-Paterson and Australian Law Reform Commission inquiries.

Questions around practical issues

Presenting the results on ACSA’s behalf, Presbyterian Aged Care NSW & ACT CEO Paul Sadler told the National Elder Abuse Conference on Monday that while there was strong support for many of the recommendations in the two reviews, providers questioned the practicability of certain proposals such as the serious incident reporting scheme.

“There’s a lot of questions about whether a serious incident reporting scheme would really work in practice,” Mr Sadler said on Monday.

On Tuesday, Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told the Sydney event that the Labor Party supported the ALRC’s recommendation for a new incident response scheme for aged care.

Mr Sadler said there is “quite a lot of doubt in the sector” about the national quality indicators program. The survey found 62 per cent of providers felt all services should be required to participate in the commonwealth’s scheme, although there are numerous caveats for that support including the need to compare like with like.

The survey found there was strong support for:

  • making aged care workers subject to a new national code of conduct for healthcare workers (90 per cent)
  • making sure assessments are consistent against aged care standards (90 per cent)
  • using broader employment screening in aged care beyond a police check (83 per cent)
  • making sure there is a statutory duty to make inquiries where reasonable grounds exist that someone is at risk (81 per cent).

Many providers (75 per cent) backed calls to limit the use of physical and chemical restrictive practices in aged care, Mr Sadler said.

Elsewhere at the conference Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt confirmed the Federal Government would respond to the Carnell-Paterson review in the upcoming May Budget, as AAA has previously reported.

Attorney General Christian Porter announced a national plan to address elder abuse, which was a key ALRC recommendation, would be developed by commonwealth and state attorneys-general (read more here).

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