The Federal Government has committed $23 million to kick off the new incident reporting arrangements for residential aged care from July next year.
Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck announced the funding package for the July 2021 rollout of the Serious Incident Response Scheme on Monday, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The scheme was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response and the Carnell-Paterson review into regulatory processes and will replace the current reporting requirements in the Aged Care Act.
KPMG has led the design, consultation and preparatory work on the SIRS, including undertaking a prevalence study on abuse between residents, which was released just ahead of this announcement (read more here).
Mr Colbeck has confirmed that the design of the scheme has been completed but he said the final details were not yet publicly available.
“The Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be publishing more detailed information about the SIRS over coming months,” Mr Colbeck told Australian Ageing Agenda.
This funding package is for the implementation of the SIRS, including for IT and business systems needed to support increased reporting volumes and change and transition support, he said.
It will also allow for ongoing education for the sector to ensure providers comply with new requirements and increased resourcing for the Aged Care Quality and Safety commission to administer the scheme, Mr Colbeck said.
The SIRS will expand the responsibilities of residential aged care providers including with identifying recording, managing, resolving and reporting assaults, he said.
Aged care providers will be required to report a broader range of incidents, including neglect, psychological or emotional abuse and inappropriate physical or chemical restraint.
It will also lift current exemptions on reporting incidents between residents, such as where the perpetrator has a cognitive impairment.
Under SIRS, the quality and safety commission will receive incident reports and have enhanced powers, including regulatory action where needed.
The funding also provides for a prevalence and feasibility study for a SIRS in home care and the continued investigation into the design, implementation and regulation of a worker register for aged care.
Peaks welcome announcement
Leading Age Services Australia supports reporting serious incidents, but it will be important to ensure the design of the regime is right, said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.
“To this end we need to ensure that the definitions in the scheme are as clear as they can be, reporting is easy and streamlined, and that the results of the reporting scheme are used to improve practice,” Mr Rooney told AAA.
Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow said the scheme was a step in the right direction to tackle an issue that if often ignored.
“This is a good initiative, but we know there is still work to do and we need to keep advocating for older Australians,” Ms Sparrow said.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the scheme would help keep people with dementia safe.
“This initiative is a positive step towards meeting the needs of people living with dementia, staff and residents, as well as reassuring family and carers that their loved ones are being cared for,” Ms McCabe said.
“Dementia Australia was consulted on the scheme and expressed that in order for it to fully succeed, it needs to be embedded into the aged care system in a seamless way, and roles and responsibilities must be clearly articulated,” she said.