There were more than 770 instances of unreasonable use of force and 16 investigations among almost 2,000 top priority reportable notifications in the first six weeks of the residential aged care sector’s new reporting scheme for serious incidents.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission received a total of 4,496 notifications through the Serious Incident Response Scheme for residential aged care between 1 April and 12 May, according to the aged care regulator’s SIRS report released last week.

Of these notifications, 1,876 were classified as priority 1 reportable incidents (42 per cent), which providers have had to report within 24 hours since 1 April.

Unreasonable use of force was most common of the eight reportable incidents (778) followed by neglect (448), unexpected death (192), unexplained absence (163) and unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual contact (149).

The least common reported incidents types were psychological or emotional abuse (94), stealing or financial coercion (30) and inappropriate chemical or physical restraint (22).  

Priority 1 reportable notifications.
Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The eight reportable incidents are deemed priority 1 if the incident has caused, or could potentially have caused, physical or psychological injury to a resident requiring medical or psychological treatment, should be reported to the police, or is an unexplained absence or an unexpected death.

Under the SIRS, the quality and safety commission may investigate a reportable incident where immediate action is required to respond to and mitigate risk to consumers.

During the six-week period, the aged care regulator conducted 16 investigations into the notifications of reportable incidents.

“All notifications are reviewed by the commission within 24 hours of receipt to assess the risk to consumers and determine whether escalation is needed,” the report said.

Overall there were 2.25 notifications per providers on average across 835 residential aged care providers nationally but only 392 providers submitted notifications during this reporting period, the report shows.

“This number and proportion of providers is expected to increase over time,” the report said.

The remaining 2,620 notifications received this period did not meet the criteria for priority 1 incidents and many, but not all, would be classified as priority 2 incidents.

Janet Anderson

Providers will need to also report priority 2 reportable incidents, which includes reportable incidents that do meet the criteria for priority 1, within 30 days of becoming aware from 1 October this year.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said the notifications received indicate that providers are responding actively to their new reporting obligations.

“An aged care organisation which has an effective incident management system is well-positioned to collect and use incident data to build a learning culture, helping staff to prevent similar incidents from occurring and to better protect the health, safety and wellbeing of aged care consumers,” Ms Anderson said.

Revised guidelines to support providers

The quality and safety commission has also released updated guidelines to support residential aged care providers to better understand their reporting obligations.

The updated guidelines include more information on the categorisation of reportable incidents, reporting unexpected deaths, the quality and safety commission’s process for requesting further or missing information, and an additional an example of rough handling.

The factsheets on the types of reportable incidents have also been updated.

The first version of the guidelines were launched in March, ahead of the SIRS 1 April starting date.

Access the updated guidelines and the factsheets.

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