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Spot check accreditation audits legislated


Aged care facilities will no longer be given advance notice of the date of their re-accreditation audit nor of the members of the assessment team following the update to aged care quality legislation.

The move to unannounced audits only was flagged by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt in October last year when he released the Carnell-Paterson review of quality regulation, which recommended the change (read our backgrounder here).

The reform was enacted by the “unannounced reaccreditation audits” amendment under the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency Act 2013 last Friday.

“These changes will strengthen the oversight of aged care services to provide greater assurance that standards of care are consistently maintained, not just at re-accreditation times,” Mr Wyatt said.

The introduction of unannounced accreditation audits by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency is in addition to existing unannounced compliance monitoring.

The new reforms also include:

  • tighter profiling of homes to identify potential care and safety risks
  • self-assessment of performance prior to the audit
  • improved avenues for resident and family feedback

The new arrangements apply to all residential care services applying for re-accreditation from 1 July this year with an accreditation expiring on or after 1 January 2019.

They do not apply to providers already advised of their re-accreditation audit date or to services whose accreditation expires before 1 January 2019.

Information sessions

The introduction of unannounced re-accreditation audits will change the re-accreditation process including with regards to reminder notices, the application itself, notifying residents and their representatives before and during the audit and the feedback process.

In addition to not receiving advance notice of the date of the audit nor the members of the assessment team, providers will no longer be given the report of major findings on the last day of the audit. Providers will receive the full audit report within seven days of the audit.

The quality agency is planning to deliver a series of information sessions for providers in May and June to explain the changes and how the agency will conduct re-accreditation audits from July.

More information on unannounced re-accreditation audits can be found on the Department of Health’s website here and on the quality agency’s website here.

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4 Responses to Spot check accreditation audits legislated

  1. David March 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

    Again, this jack boot approach maybe ok, but why do we still have to pay for the accreditation service to what remains a monopoly? Isn’t it time that there was some choice and competition in the providing of these quality assessments?

  2. Lorraine de Kok March 21, 2018 at 2:20 pm #

    And nor should aged care facilities be given notice, if all staff are doing the correct thing they should not worried about anything

  3. Dave March 23, 2018 at 6:57 am #

    Jack boot approach?

    I expect Accreditation will still be the same old velvet glove approach…only you wont get a few months warning to plug the leaks.

    The idealised notion of ‘choice and competition’ has steered residential care into a profit-centric model that prioritises image over care. You can dress it up as ’empowering the consumer’ but Friedman-style capitalism doesn’t believe in social responsibility (unless it affect your bottom line)

    Sending Accreditation to the market would have disastrous consequences: inconsistency, favoritism and underhanded deals would be widespread. Who would regulate it?

    Let’s get the process right. More transparency, consistent assessments and smarter assessors. The government should be the industry’s policeman. They may not be perfect, but at least they can’t avoid accountability by declaring bankruptcy. accountability

  4. Michael March 23, 2018 at 2:49 pm #

    Well said Dave. The regulatory system serves its political and industry managers and masters well. This breaches the principle of distributive justice. Agency inspections are extremely inefficient at detecting problems. Their own data reveals that 74% of problems are detected because they have been told about them and 12% are suspected because of risk profiling. Only 14% are detected by undirected visits whether announced or not.

    The figures for detection per visit were reaccreditation 2.2% (69 of 3146), announced contacts 1.3% (46 of 3507) and unannounced contacts 1.5% (169 of 11362). This was a 0.2% increased rate for unannounced contacts. In contrast “Review audits”, done in response to tip offs so that assessors knew what to look for, confirmed failures in 78% (70 of 90 audits). In marketing unannounced visits as a solution the minister is responding to the publicity and not the data or the serious problems in the system.

    Aged Care Crisis is pressing for an often on site, empowered, locally based visitors scheme as the front line regulator listening to residents and staff and dealing directly with management. Visitors schemes have been effective in the disability and mental health sectors in Victoria and Queensland. This should work with and form a central hub that integrates local supportive community and consumer groups. This would make each aged care service directly accountable to the community it serves.

    Central regulators would work through this local structure mentoring and providing backup – a system of distributive justice. This early warning system would respond to local concern and complaints. It would pick up problems, which if not promptly addressed, would trigger review audits. These would be the definitive audit process leading to sanctions and they too would be accountable to locals who know what is happening. Government are too far away and cannot do it alone.

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