The aged care sector’s new independent regulator has launched a tool for providers to understand and assess their performance against the new quality standards.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which commenced operations on 1 January as the single point of contact for aged care issues, will start assessing all providers of Commonwealth-subsided aged care services against the new single Aged Care Quality Standards from 1 July 2019.
The Self-Assessment Guidance Tool, which includes a self-assessment template and guide, was developed in consultation with stakeholders and has been tested with aged care service providers, the commission said.
It will replace existing guidance on self-assessment from 1 July this year.
Providers are not required to submit self-assessment information against the new standards prior to 1 July, but the commission is encouraging operators to use the resource to prepare for the introduction of the new standards.
According to the eight-page guide, a self-assessment can:
- help build an organisational culture focused on improving the safety and quality of care and services, and individual consumers’ experiences and outcomes
- identify and evaluate outcomes for consumers, staff and the organisation
- help communicate with the governing body of the service about performance and risk
- prepare for a quality assessment by the quality and safety Commission.
Access the tool here.
Focus on restraints
The new tool was announced on Wednesday in the quality and safety commission’s inaugural monthly newsletter on, which included a welcome message from Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson.
“I look forward to meeting with providers, consumers and the broader community, as we work collaboratively to protect and enhance the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of people receiving aged care,” Ms Anderson said.
Ms Anderson also reiterated last week’s announcement about the commission’s new sharper focus on the use of restraints in residential aged care, which means providers can now expect to be specifically asked about restrictive practices during monitoring visits.
The commission is extremely concerned if any aged care resident is being inappropriately physically or chemically restrained, such by a belt or antipsychotic medication, she said.
“At unannounced assessment visits, providers will be asked how many residents at the service are currently receiving psychotropic medications and how many are physically restrained in order to better understand whether these measures are being used in accordance with best practice,” Ms Anderson said.
Assessments teams are looking for evidence such as the presence of informed consent from the resident or a properly authorised person, she said.
“We want to see that the service is applying best practice in matters such as effective clinical governance, regular review by health professionals, pharmacists, and communication with the general practitioner or geriatrician, and that records are kept of the outcome of these reviews.”
Residential aged care services now need to demonstrate that alternative strategies are used to manage challenging behaviours, and where restraints are required, that they are consistent with best practice guidance, the commission said.
The new sharper focus follows several media reports earlier this month about the use of restraints in aged care, and an announcement by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt that new rules would soon be in place to better regulate chemical and physical restraints in aged care facilities (read more here).
The Department of Health also recently updated the provider resource for the new aged care quality standards to include concerns about the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications as a form of chemical restraint (read more here).
Provider education hub
To help aged care staff get to know the new standards, the commission recently published a new factsheet that encourages staff to discuss and reflect how their role supports the organisation to meet the new standards.
This resource, which includes a facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint presentation, is the first module published on Qassist, which is the commission’s regulatory compliance assistance education program for providers.
Access the factsheet and find out more about Qassist here.
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