Announced accreditation visits will be replaced with unannounced audits across Australia’s residential aged care facilities, to help ensure safe, quality care standards are maintained at all centres at all times.

Releasing the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM said the Turnbull Government would move as soon as possible to implement Recommendation 8, as it considers the entire review in detail.

“Aged care safety and quality are non-negotiable and must be delivered to residents 365 days of the year, without exception,” said Minister Wyatt.

“I ordered this review after the appalling revelations at South Australia’s Oakden facility, and there have been other high-profile aged care failures which have highlighted where parts of our systems have sadly let us down.

“While the overwhelming majority of facilities provide excellent care and are working to continually improve services, our focus must be on those that are not delivering.”

The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency will continue to conduct initial accreditation audits in consultation with the provider, to allow them to understand the standards and meet licensing requirements.

“The old process of notifying providers ahead of subsequent re-accreditation reviews will go, replaced by comprehensive unannounced audits” said the Minister. “Our commitment to this will be relentless, on behalf of all older Australians, who deserve nothing but the best of care.

“I remain equally committed to working with all aged care providers and the entire care sector, to ensure our quality and safety standards are world-class.”

A statement was issued jointly today by Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia, Sean Rooney, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia and Cameron O’Reilly, CEO of the Aged Care Guild, following the release of the Carnell Review.

“Government, providers and the community all share a desire for a strong aged care sector, supported by an accreditation system that protects consumers’ safety and upholds the standards the community rightfully expects when it comes to quality of care,” the three peak CEOs said in reply to Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt’s address to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

The industry peaks agree with Minister Wyatt’s views expressed today that “aged-care safety and quality are non-negotiable” and his assessment that “overwhelmingly, the majority of facilities provide excellent care and are working continually to improve services.”

“Our commitment to ensuring that outcome is emphatic and we will work with the government to support initiatives that are effective in reaching this end,” the CEOs said.

“The community must be assured of the safety, wellbeing and quality of life they expect when they move into a residential aged care facility and we, as an industry, are determined to have regulation that functions effectively to those ends,” said Sean Rooney, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia.

Cameron O’Reilly, chief executive of the Aged Care Guild said, “We support measures to assist in swiftly identifying those operators who do not meet the standards of contemporary practice and consumer need. However, aged care providers operate in a consumer-driven world. Maintaining a good reputation and the trust of the public is crucial to providers’ ability to attract consumers and this driver is just as important as regulation in delivering the highest quality standards.”

“The industry will work collectively with the Government in coming weeks to ensure any proposed reforms are targeted and effective in their focus on achieving quality outcomes for older Australians in aged care,” said ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow. “If we are to create an aged care sector that truly meets the changing needs of Australians as they age into the future, then regulation must also provide the right conditions for service innovation to thrive.”

However, Wayne Belcher, the CEO of Braemar Presbyterian Care has said that timing of the audits is important. From the perspective of the aged care organisation, he believes there needs to be an understanding between them and the accreditation agency for the process to go smoothly.

“In my view, unannounced visits should be just that – unannounced.  However, entry to a facility needs to be measured so that it is not an inconvenient intrusion into, say, a facility that has already been closed due to a gastroenteritis or influenza outbreak.

“Planned periodic Accreditation visits and audits should remain appropriately scheduled to meet the mutual needs of provider and Quality Agency alike.

“For a proposed change in the assessment process, in my non clinical view, it is paramount that assessors and facility clinical staff have the opportunity to robustly debate with full disclosure the assessed level of care that providers are expected to provide and the basis upon which that care delivery will be funded.  I see the potential development here of all responsibility to be met by the provider against funding delivered for a (Treasury) funding outcome and not always for the best clinical care outcome.  These visits should always be scheduled between both parties.”

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