Legislation to change to a single set of quality standards across aged care programs has been introduced into Parliament ahead of the proposed July implementation date.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt introduced the Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018 to Parliament last Thursday.

The new single set of eight standards will replace the four sets of standards currently covering residential care, home care, Aboriginal flexible care and transition care.

The standards are structured so organisations only have to meet the standards relevant to their service.

Minister Wyatt said the reforms would strengthen and streamline the regulation of safe, quality aged care.

“Applying a single set of standards across all aged care programs will drive improvements to the quality of care delivered to older Australians and encourage innovation, excellence and continuous improvement,” Minister Wyatt said.

He said a single set of standards would complement the introduction of a proposed single Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which will uphold and enforce the standards.

The Government announced its intention to move to a single framework among accreditation reforms in the 2015-16 Budget (read our story here) and the measures were further outlined by bureaucrat Michael Culhane at an industry conference the following year (read our report here).

The single set of aged care standards is expected to come into force from 1 July 2018 and providers will be assessed under the new standards from 1 July 2019.

This month’s Federal Budget provided $50 million over two years from July for a “Quality Care Fund” to assist residential providers with implementing the new standards.

The second draft of the new aged care standards was released in February and left providers seeking more detail (read our report here).

A public consultation underway on the draft guidance material complementing the new quality standards by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency closes 31 May.

A pilot being undertaken by the quality agency testing the draft standards and guidance material with a wide range of service types, sizes and locations is also still underway.

The Final draft Aged Care Quality Standards are available here.

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