A new Commonwealth government inquiry is investigating the quality of care in residential aged care services, instigated by federal health minister Greg Hunt.
It adds to the string of recent aged care inquiries and reviews including the Government’s Carnell and Paterson review of regulatory issues triggered by the failures at Oakden in South Australia, a Senate inquiry that looked into the effectiveness of the aged care quality assessment and accreditation framework and, David Tune’s legislated review of aged care reforms.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport announced yesterday it had commenced an Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia following Minister Hunt’s referral on Wednesday.
Committee chair Trent Zimmerman said the examination would particularly focus on the quality of care and services provided to aged care residents.
“The committee will also consider the consumer protections available for aged care residents, including those who do not have family members to help them exercise their rights,” he said.
According to the terms of reference, the committee will inquire and report on:
- The incidence of all mistreatment of residents in residential aged care facilities and associated reporting and response mechanisms, including the treatment of whistleblowers;
- The effectiveness of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commission[er], and the Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities in ensuring adequate consumer protection in residential aged care; and
- The adequacy of consumer protection arrangements for aged care residents who do not have family, friends or other representatives to help them exercise choice and their rights in care.
Provider peaks Leading Age Services Australia and Aged and Community Services Australia both acknowledged the inquiry yesterday adding their intent to participate but expressed concerns about duplication and subsequent delays to future reform.
In addition to the recent government and Senate reviews, LASA CEO Sean Rooney noted the Resource Utilisation and Classification Study underway and the new Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.
“We support this inquiry but are concerned that with the Federal Government already considering a number of significant inputs that will further drive aged care quality and reform, the work of the inquiry may duplicate research and findings already undertaken and slow down the process of reform at a critical time,” he said.
ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow said with the announcement of yet another inquiry, it urged government to take a considered approach to all current review findings to ensure quality of care for older Australians.
“With numerous lines of inquiry currently open and under consideration by the government, there is a need to focus on those areas where reform efforts will have the most impact on quality and safety,” Ms Sparrow said.
Information about the inquiry include the full terms of reference are available here. Submissions close on 8 February 2018.
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