Aged care providers have welcomed the passage of legislation establishing the nation’s first independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and say they will work with the new watchdog to uphold high standards of care.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bill 2018 passed the senate on Monday night.
It establishes a new body to replace the existing Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and Aged Care Complaints Commission from 1 January 2019 and establishes the function and powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, a position to be filled by Janet Anderson.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt says the passing of the legislation, which paves the way for a one-stop quality monitoring and regulation shop, marks a new era in aged care.
The commission will work with the aged care sector to establish a serious incident response scheme and will carry out some 3,000 unannounced inspections 2019 and triple the number of reaccreditation audits, he said.
It will be funded to the tune of $300 million over four years, with more than $48 million for monitoring and the employment of dozens of compliance officers.
“Through this integrated and responsive agency, the more than 1.3 million Australians who receive various forms of Commonwealth aged care support and the 366,000 aged care staff who care for them will have increased confidence in aged care regulation and the upholding of their rights,” he said in a statement.
Providers pledge to work with commission
Aged and Community Services CEO Pat Sparrow said the peak body was committed to working with the new watchdog.
“All those with an interest in aged care, whether as a resident or a provider, need the system to function with firm but fair regulation that protects the principles of safety and quality of life,” she said in a statement.
“ACSA and its members will work with the new commission to ensure regulatory functions uphold the high standards we all expect and provide natural justice and procedural fairness for older people and providers at all times.”
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney says LASA also looked forward to working with the commission, which must be held accountable for delivering a new world-class regulatory framework.
“The safety and care of older Australians in not negotiable,” he told CCR.
“The Commission … will drive quality improvements in the aged care system and help restore confidence for the community and providers alike.”
Chief clinical advisor
The legislation also enshrines in law a chief clinical advisor, a move welcomed by the AMA which had advocated strongly for this.
AMA President Tony Bartone said the health department had confirmed this role would be filled by a doctor.
“The AMA has for some time advocated for more consideration of clinical matters when regulating the aged care sector,” he said in a statement.
“Further, the AMA argued that the chief clinical advisor must be a registered medical practitioner, ideally either a GP or a geriatrician, with strong expertise in aged care.
“The AMA looks forward to working with the commissioner and the chief clinical advisor with a goal to improve older people’s much-needed timely access to quality clinical care.”
The role of the clinical advisor is likely to include:
- Monitoring and regulating clinical care and governance, reducing infection and use of restraints.
- Complaints resolution
- Education to providers, staff, consumers and the public about clinical issues
Human rights reference missing
Senator Rachel Siewert said the Greens also welcomed the passage of the legislation but were concerned there was no reference to the human rights of older people in the legislation.
She also said a proposed Greens amendment to make information relating to staff available had not been supported.
“While the Greens supported the bill and were pleased to see the government amend it, we are disappointed that some important areas remain unaddressed, such as specifically referencing older Australian’s human rights and reporting on staff numbers,” Senator Siewert said.
You can find more information about the legislation here