Responding to AAA’s coverage of new research on sanctions among for-profit aged care providers, LASA calls for government to review the standards process, writes Patrick Reid.
As the peak body for providers of all age services across both private and not-for-profit organisations, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) is always interested in research that enables industry to provide the very best care to older Australians. Quality, rather than straight regulation, is the key to ensuring that age services are of the highest standard possible.
As the researcher stated, the paper did not assess the quality of care provided by private providers who passed accreditation. It is essential that the entire industry examine the challenges, areas for improvement and areas of innovation that enable care and services to meet consumer demand and enhance quality overall.
The research also validates the commonly held understanding that regional, rural and remote providers need more tangible support in order to enable them to provide quality services under trying conditions.
What does need to be recognised is that the Standards were written in 1997, and have not changed since then and yet the acuity of residents, the funding provided and the expectations of the resident/family, providers and government have significantly changed in the intervening 16 years.
Quality Agency CEO, Nick Ryan, while at LASA Queensland, sought research into to why there is state variances between assessors and audit outcomes. Mr Ryan is now in a position to affect this research.
Accreditation is an accepted core business activity for age services and should provide public confidence and recognition of achievement to industry developed standards that build on the safe and sustainable provision of quality care and services.
LASA is striving to develop an industry that safeguards quality and innovation, while maintaining a high level of public confidence without unnecessary regulatory red tape and compliance burdens.
This is certainly a challenge but one we do not shirk from.
A high quality aged care industry must focus on continuous improvement rather than regulation or compliance. We promote and encourage robust industry-wide research with an applied focus in order to benefit all care recipients regardless of service and organisation type.
Quality is a multi-faceted concept when considering age services. One must take into account access to care that is acceptable to the care recipient, with effective outcomes, achieved efficiently for the consumer, provider and tax payer, on an equitable basis, and in a safe manner.
The standards form part of aged care legislation. This is one reason why review has not taken place; legislation is not a flexible object. LASA contends that the standards should be reviewed every five years, similarly to what takes place in the acute sector. The standards should be taken from the legislation; this does not necessitate a diluting of the outcomes but allows them to keep pace with the changing nature of aged care much of it consumer driven.
LASA calls on the government, in a partnership with industry, to review the standards against current best practice and link them to objective outcome measures that the system can use for quality improvement, not quality assurance for compliance sake.
Patrick Reid is CEO of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA).