Quality standards pilot underway

The new revised quality standards are being piloted to help the regulator adjust the way it assesses provider performance.

The new strengthened aged care quality standards are currently being piloted to help the regulator adjust the way it assesses provider performance.

Informed through consultation with industry stakeholders late last year, the new Aged Care Quality Standards have been designed to define what older people can expect from their aged care provider.

In response to sector feedback, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission redeveloped the new quality standards to be:

  • easier to understand
  • easier to implement
  • more measurable
  • relevant to more aged care services.

The strengthened quality standards

The language used throughout the revised standards improves the focus on outcomes for older people, particularly in relation to choice, inclusion and quality of life.

They include 137 actions that seek to help providers and workers to understand how they might demonstrate achievement of the outcomes.

Revised Aged Care Quality Standards

The revised quality standards have also been reduced from eight categories to seven:

  • Standard 1 the person – to reflect concepts about dignity and respect, older person individuality and diversity, independence, choice and control, and culturally safe care
  • Standard 2 the organisation – intended to hold the governing body responsible for meeting the requirements of the quality standards and delivering quality care and services
  • Standard 3 the care and services – to describe the way providers must deliver care and services for all types of services being delivered
  • Standard 4 the environment – to ensure that older people receive care and services in a physical environment that is safe, supportive and meets their needs
  • Standard 5 clinical care – describes the responsibilities of providers to deliver safe and quality clinical care to older people
  • Standard 6 food and nutrition – to encourage providers to engage with older people about what and how they like to eat and drink, deliver choice and meals that are full of flavour, appetising and nutritious
  • Standard 7 the residential community – to ensure older people get services and supports for daily living that optimise their quality of life promote use of their skills and strengths and enable them to do the things they want to do.

The revised quality standards align structurally with the NDIS Practice Standards. Under this structure, certain standards apply to providers based on their registration category.

It is anticipated that all providers subject to the quality standards would be required to demonstrate their performance against standards one to four. Some providers would also be required to demonstrate their performance against standards five to seven, based on the types of service they deliver.

The main changes

While the structure of the quality standards has changed, the content and language draw on the current quality standards. For example:

  • Standard 1 remains similar in its focus on the older person
  • Standard 2 draws on Standards 6, 7 and 8 from the current quality standards
  • Standard 3 draws on Standard 2 and components of Standards 3 and 4 from the current quality standards
  • Standard 4 draws on Standard 5 and parts of Standard 3 from the current quality standards
  • Standard 5 draws on parts of Standards 2, 3 and 8 from the current quality standards
  • Standard 6 expands significantly on parts of Standards 2 and 4 from the current quality standards
  • Standard 7 draws on parts of Standards 3 and 4 from the current quality standards.

The pilot

The pilot of the new quality standards – which will run until September – involves 40 aged care providers. These providers were picked so as to be representative of the sector as a whole with consideration given to service type, size, location and the people receiving the aged care.

In addition to how the regulator assesses provider performance, the pilot will inform:

  • how the introduction of graded assessment outcomes can drive performance
  • the support providers need to understand and meet the new standards
  • how to support older Australians to understand the standards
  • feedback to the department on the application of the strengthened standards.

Once the pilot is evaluated, the commission will share the outcomes with providers. Those outcomes will then inform the final design of the audit methodology and the guidance documents.

Providers are invited to register for an online webinar explaining the strengthened standards which will run on Tuesday 20 June.

Providers are also encouraged to regularly review the commission’s website and subscribe to its social media platforms.

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