Health Minister Greg Hunt says home care providers are badly in need of increased oversight and has foreshadowed increased regulatory requirements in response to the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
He announced the government will immediately move to tighten oversight of the home care packages program, with 500 providers to be audited each year.
Speaking at the release of the report on Monday, Mr Hunt said the audits will crack down on “unjustified” administrative charges.
“In terms of home care we will immediately act on transparency in fees, and commence an audit program of over 500 providers per year,” he told reporters.
Mr Hunt says home care providers must ensure that delivery of care, rather than administrative fees, make up the lion’s share of costs to consumers.
“Enhancing oversight of the delivery of home care packages will lead to more care and services going directly to care recipients and reduce the potential for fraud in the system,” he said.
The government will also implement a “a new quality control system within home care”, Mr Hunt said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after a two year investigation and 10,500 submissions, the royal commission had set out a five year roadmap for generational change across the centre, and the government had responded with $452 million immediate response package.
The eight-volume report contains 148 recommendations.
“The royal commission has now set out a very important roadmap which I think will establish generational change in this country,” he told reporters.
Regulation of home care ‘underdeveloped’
Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Tony Pagone found there has been a rapid expansion in home care providers, with limited scrutiny of their suitability.
“The oversight of home care is particularly underdeveloped,” the commissioners write.
Regulation of home care is particularly inadequate, overly concerned with process and lacking safeguards for older people, they say, and call for it to be urgently addressed.
The report says quality is inadequately measured and notes there are still no quality indicators for home care.
The quality of life of consumers also needs to be monitored, the commissioners say.
The need for oversight of serious incidents in home settings will increase as more people receive aged care in their homes for longer.Report of the Aged Care Royal Commission
They say a proposed Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health and Aged Care should develop suite of quality indicators for care in the home.
“This should include a quality of life assessment tool for people receiving aged care,” they say.
The report recommends that all providers of subsidised aged care services should be required to be approved, and all providers of high-level home care should be accredited.
It notes that CHSP providers aren’t currently approved, unlike HCP providers, and the proposed integration of CHSP and the HCP will need “new approval arrangements to be put in place”.
The report notes that home care services are subject to a quality review at least once every three years, but at last June, 159 approved providers had never had a quality review conducted.
Home care services that provide care management, personal care or clinical care should be regulated, the report says.
The new Serious Incident Response Scheme must be extended to cover allegations of certain serious involving aged care workers.
“The need for oversight of serious incidents in home settings will increase as more people receive aged care in their homes for longer,” the commissioners say.
Read the full report here.
This story first ran on Community Care Review.