The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is now the single regulator of aged care services and the primary point of contact for aged care providers and consumers for quality and safety matters.

Recently passed aged care legislation amendments, which took effect on 1 January this year, see the following functions transitioned from the Department of Health to the quality and safety commission:

  • approval of all residential and home care providers
  • aged care compliance activity including prudential operations
  • the administration of compulsory reporting of assaults by approved providers.
Janet Anderson

These new roles build on the one-year-old commission’s existing responsibilities for complaints and the accreditation, assessment and monitoring of aged care services.

The quality and safety commission’s additional functions and responsibilities enact recommendations from the Carnell Paterson review of regulatory processes to create a one-stop shop for regulation and strengthen regulatory oversight of the sector.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said the commission now had a broader range of tools to drive improvements in aged care consumer experience and care outcomes.

“The commission has an important role to play in holding aged care providers to account for the provision of such care, as required under the Aged Care Quality Standards.

“We complement this role through our work in promoting consumer engagement, providing information and education, and seeking to resolve complaints about aged care providers,” Ms Anderson said.

New rule for popular antipsychotic

Restrictions for repeat prescriptions of the antipsychotic drug Risperidone also came into effect on 1 January.

The reform, which is part of the Government’s response to the aged care royal commission’s interim report, aims to reduce the use of chemical restraint in residential aged care.

Under the new rule, doctors need to apply for additional approval if the medication is required for longer than 12 weeks.

Richard Colbeck

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the government was also developing education resources for prescribers to support the appropriate use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in aged care.

“The royal commission identified an over-reliance on chemical restraint as a priority concern in aged care and the Government has taken this action among other measures to ensure senior Australians receive the care they expect and deserve,” Mr Colbeck said.

He said investment in compliance and preventive actions will be undertaken as and when required.

“But it is important that the key long-term challenges investigated by the royal commission are explored thoroughly to ensure the development of a sturdy response and recommendations for future reform.”

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2 Comments

  1. I have grave concerns now more than ever, for residents in aged care facilities during the current climate of no visiting relatives due to risk of Covid 19 transmission of infection.

    With no relatives visiting frequently, who would normally help with meal supervision, feeding, dressing, exercise & hygiene for their relatives to take the strain off staff (due to inadequate ratios) the risks of poor quality care will dramatically increase.

    What increase in staffing are facilities providing and what is the governments commitment during these ’Covid 19’times?

    Also, without the relatives to oversee care there is no one to observe and hold facilities to account.

    My father was in respite care last year and every day there was a problem with basic day to day care.
    As a nurse of 40 years experience, I understand the difficulties and pressures on staff in such facilities.
    However, when basic nursing care is not done on a daily basis, despite pointing it out and being written on report day after day (ie. cleaning and putting dentures in each morning to be able to eat meals, dressing in appropriate clothes to ensure resident is warm, and appropriate toileting to maintain hygiene and dignity ) I can only be thankful that we were able to take my father back home to be cared for with the dignity he deserved and that he is thankfully now at peace rather than to be at the mercy of a flawed system in these current times.
    My hear goes out to all families and residents in a large majority of aged care facilities where I am sure care will not be adequate.

  2. The problems with our regulation is that it is still based on the free market/economic rationalisation/neoliberal model and as such it depends on self-interest and competitive economic pressures for its success.

    It sees control by society as a threat to the free market. Instead it tries to manage society and in doing so takes control away from civil society.

    This system creates perverse incentives. It is vulnerable to being undermined by a revolving door and so capture by industry. In such a system, the power of the industry regulated steadily erodes regulatory effectiveness after each attempted ‘reform’. This is a global problem and is why regulation has failed repeatedly in the USA, UK and Australia. Simply moving the pieces about does not address this. A single body is more easily captured by industry and controlled by government

    The care of the vulnerable in society is and always has been the responsibility of every citizen and of every community and so civil society. Anyone who provides that care is doing it on their behalf and is their agent. It is every community’s responsibility to see that their agents do what they require. The capacity to hold our agents to account has been taken away from us. What we are doing is to treat the symptoms and not the disease that is causing them. It will progress and reassert itself.

    What is needed is a major structural reform that addresses the disease itself by returning the primary management to local bodies and in building communities so that they have the involvement and the power to hold their agents to account. The late Professor Hal Kendig spent the last 20 years of his life advocating for the primary management and oversight of aged care to be moved locally. He has described the flexibility and responsiveness as well as the many other advantages of such a system.

    While we were unaware of Kendig’s work, Aged Care Crisis has been making submissions to aged care inquiries advocating for a similar system for the last 10 years.

    It is government’s role to support, build and mentor responsible citizenship as well as an active and engaged civil society. Responsible and effective politicians we can trust come from such a society. We have been going backwards in this for over 30 years. Aged care is a good place to start fixing this.

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