The aged care sector has pledged to work towards a smooth transition to new aged care standards, but is urging a consistent and constructive approach from the body charged with monitoring compliance.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the government had delivered a major aged care reform package as he announced the new single Aged Care Quality Standards which came into force on July 1.
He said the standards would make regulation clearer for providers and give them a solid foundation for continuous improvement.
“Senior Australians must have choice and flexibility in the care they receive, and it should be easy to understand what they can expect from their aged care service,” he said.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) said the community could have confidence that providers were working hard to see the changes through.
However CEO Pat Sparrow said the structural and funding challenges affecting aged care in Australia meant the transition was more complex than “a simple need to crack down on providers”.
“Rules and regulations can’t be dealt with in isolation,” she said.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) also said the sector was committed to continuous improvement and the next few months would involve a period of learning.
“Recognising that there will be a period of learning in coming months for both the sector and the Quality and Safety Commission, it is vital that the Commission be consistent and constructive in its approach to assessing providers,” CEO Sean Rooney said.
Mr Rooney also stressed there remained an immediate need to address critical aged care funding issues to ensure providers were adequately resourced to meet the needs and expectations of those in their care.
New standards to apply across the board
The new standards apply across the board, covering home care, Commonwealth Home Support, flexible care and residential services.
They cover the following areas:
- Consumer dignity and choice
- Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
- Personal care and clinical care
- Services and supports for daily living
- Organisation’s service environment
- Feedback and complaints
- Human resources
- Organisational governance
Meanwhile, a new Charter of Aged Care Rights enshrining 14 rights including rights to dignity, control and freedom from abuse has also taken effect from July 1. The rights also stipulate that providers inform consumers of their rights and ensure there are no adverse consequences for people who make complaints.
The government has also strengthened regulations applying to the use of physical and chemical restraints in aged care homes.
“These regulations also mean that restraints must be a last resort. Aged Care providers must now satisfy a number of conditions before physical and chemical restraints can be used,” Senator Colbeck said.
Government funded aged care facitilies are also now required to comply with the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program.
Enhancing safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson, who will investigate complaints and monitor compliance with the new standards, said the reforms would enhance the quality of life of people receiving government-funded aged care.
“The new Standards reflect contemporary best practice and current community views appropriate for all aged care settings,” she said.
Consumer advocacy organisation COTA welcomed the focus on engagement with consumers in the new standards and charter of rights, including a requirement that aged care providers treat people with respect and dignity, provide safe and appropriate care and consult with care recipients.
“The new Standards and Charter of Rights put consumers at the heart of aged care, just as they should be,” CEO Ian Yates said.
Providers had been given ample time to prepare and had not excuse for failing to adhere to them, he added.
“There are no excuses for not meeting the standards or failing to consult with and respect older Australians in the matter of their own care.”
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the new Charter and Standards would benefit people living with dementia, their families and carers by putting the focus on choice and engagement.
“The new Standards place consumers at the centre of their care and focus on giving people greater choice and flexibility, as well as making it easier for consumers, their families and carers to understand regulation and what can be expected from a service,” she said.
It was yet to be seen if more work was needed in interpreting how the standards related to the quality dementia care, she said.
More information is available here.
The VHA has also created a suite of tools and resources including a pack for boards, a guidance resource and an organisational self-assessment monitoring tool aimed at helping services align their align their systems with the new standards, also available for members here or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.