The upcoming Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety has twenty past reviews to draw upon and still there are inadequacies in the provision of suitable care in some aged care facilities. It is highly desirable that the Commission be designed so that outcomes will provide:
- Improved consumer choice and control in aged care.
- Services in all aged care facilities that meet individuals’ needs.
- Services that are affordable for consumers and taxpayers alike.
Currently aged care homes in Australia are expected to meet 44 accreditation standards and they receive either a pass or fail for each one. These standards are being updated in 2019 with new aged care quality standards, but a pass or fail for each standard is still the criteria. With this system it is nearly impossible for consumers to assess the quality of each provider, do they excel or just scrape through?
In England a different system was introduced in 2014 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). When each aged care home is inspected by the CQC five questions are asked: is it safe, is it effective, is it responsive, it is caring and is it well led? Ratings are given for each. They are: outstanding, good, requires improvement, or inadequate. The aged care facility is also given an overall rating. These ratings must be displayed, by law, within the facility and on its website. As my role, as an Aged Care Placement Consultant, is to assess the quality and suitability of aged care facilities for my clients I would certainly find this rating system of tremendous help if it was introduced in Australia.
It is part of a whole system however, with the CQC drawing attention to poor care through reports it produces about the standard of care, such as its annual State of Care report. They also have strong enforcement and legislative powers and can shut down providers or bring criminal charges. In comparison Australia’s Quality Agency has to refer providers to the Health Department for any action.
As I’ve stated before there are many very good providers and I am pleased to report I find suitable aged care accommodation for my clients on a regular basis in Victoria. I follow up to ensure they are being well cared for and are happily settled in to their new homes. But, as the recent media attention has highlighted, there are some facilities that are inadequate. So, it’s important the Royal Commission can provide answers to how the government can ensure all people who require the support of a suitable aged care facility will be cared for at a standard acceptable to them, their families and society in general.