Medication management remains the top reason behind complaints in residential aged care but human resource management is the most frequently unmet outcome during audits, new data from the sector’s regulator shows.

Of the 2,227 complaints made to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission between January and March 2019, almost three-quarters were for residential aged care (1,633), a quarter were for home care (562) and the rest for other services (35), according to the commission’s sector performance report released last week.

Just as for the previous six months, the top issue for residential aged care complaints in the first quarter of 2019 was medication management (238). This was followed by falls prevention and post-fall management (164), personnel numbers and ratios (175), personnel behaviour and conduct (137) and continence management (115).

Throughout the quarter, the quality commission conducted 249 site audits, which resulted in 41 cases of unmet new expected outcomes (16.5 per cent of sites) and 11 serious risk decisions (4.4 per cent).

However, during the 30 review audits conducted, the commission found 29 cases with unmet new expected outcomes (96.7 per cent of audits) and made 26 serious risk decisions (70 per cent).

It resulted in the commission revoking accreditation in two cases and varying it in a further 18.

The most frequent areas where new expected outcomes were not met during site audits and review audits were human resources management (34), behavioural management and information systems (33 each), clinical care (28) and skin care (23).

Of the 1,097 assessment contacts conducted during the quarter, new expected outcomes were not met 75 times (6.8 per cent of contacts) and the commission made 26 serious risk decisions (2.4 per cent).

Behavioural management topped the most frequent areas where new expected outcomes were not met (27) followed by living environment (14), clinical care (13), human resource management (12) and regulatory compliance (8).

Accreditation decisions

Of the 249 re-accreditation decisions undertaken, one facility was not re-accredited and 206 facilities were accredited for the maximum period of three years. Of the remaining facilities, 25 were accredited for two years, 14 for one year and three for less than a year.

More than 82 per cent of residential aged services returned to compliance after completing a timetable for improvement.

The data also shows that the number of complaints notices, which is a written notice informing the provider that the quality commission intends to direct the facility to take specified actions to meet its responsibilities, fell to one in the first quarter of 2019, down from eight in the previous six-month period.

Depending on the provider’s response to the written notice, the quality commission may decide not to enforce the direction.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission said no such directions were issued during the quarter.

“When the commission reports on complaints notices, this includes both notices of intention to give a direction, and also directions issues. The 1 January – 31 March 2019 sector performance data happened to be all notices of intention only – no directions were issued,” a spokesperson from the quality and safety commission told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The statistics also show that at 31 March 2019, there were 2,717 residential aged care facilities, which is up from 2,706 at 31 December 2018, and 35 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) services.

The commission conducted six quality reviews and three assessment contacts of NATSIFAC services during the first quarter of 2019 and found four with unmet expected outcomes during the reviews and one during the assessments.

Data for April to June 2019 will be released shortly, the quality commission said.

Access the report here.

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1 Comment

  1. The results don’t surprise me, it just highlights to me how much the sector is struggling to keep up, mainly due to underfunding and continual workforce issues, especially Registered Nurses, the recent surveys of new Graduates shows that over 60% are not at all interested in aged care and don’t see it as a ‘career’. Medication management does not work without Registered Nurses. So HR and Medication go hand in hand. People can bang on all they want about substandard care and profits going to shareholders, in most cases it is untrue, there are some awesome people out there burning out while trying to do more with less. On top of that is a new Government Agency who have been told to get out there and get runs on the board during the Royal Commission to ensure they don’t get criticised like the Banking Regulators did. I really feel for the hardworking aged care managers and staff trying to do their best under very difficult circumstances this year. Unfortunately a very negative and critical space to be in.

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