Last week it was announced that the Government will launch a new inquiry investigation the quality of care in Australia’s aged care sector.

Following a referral from the Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, the eight persons Committee will inquire into and report on the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia.

The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport will inquire into and report on a number of different aspects. This includes:

  • The incidence of all mistreatment of residents in residential aged care facilities and associated reporting and response mechanisms, including the treatment of whistleblowers;
  • The effectiveness of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, and the Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities in ensuring adequate consumer protection in residential aged care; and
  • The adequacy of consumer protection arrangements for aged care residents who do not have family, friends or other representatives to help them exercise choice and their rights in care.

The Inquiry, to be Chaired by Trent Zimmerman MP, will examine Australia’s residential aged care system, in particular the quality of care and services provided to aged care residents.

Zimmerman explained that the “the Committee will also consider the consumer protections available for aged care residents, including those who do not have family members to help them exercise their rights.”

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said aged care safety and quality are not negotiable.

“Age services providers, government and the community all share a desire for a high performing aged care sector, supported by a quality assurance and accreditation system that meets the needs of older Australians and upholds the standards the community rightfully expects when it comes to quality of care,” he said.

“LASA leads and supports efforts to continuously improve quality in the age services industry.

Concerns Over Slowing Down the Reform

Mr Rooney has said that “we support this Inquiry but are concerned that with the Federal Government already considering a number of significant inputs that will further drive aged care quality and reform, the work of the Inquiry may duplicate research and findings already undertaken and slow down the process of reform at a critical time.”

There have already been a number of different reviews in the the aged care sector – with the Carnell and Paterson review of regulatory process in October and the Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017 but David Tune in July.

There has also been a Senate inquiry into aged care quality assessment and accreditation, an Aged Care Single Quality Framework, a Resource Utilisation and Classification Study, Increasing Choice in Home Care changes, and the latest Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia is also concerned about this – saying that these reviews must be targeted towards policy that supports the future of quality aged care in Australia.

“With numerous lines of inquiry currently open and under consideration by the government, there is a need to focus on those areas where reform efforts will have the most impact on quality and safety,” she says.

“The sector is in favour of a firm but fair regulatory system that supports consumers’ safety and upholds the standards the community rightfully expects when it comes to quality of care.

“With the announcement of yet another inquiry, we urge government to take a considered approach to all current review findings to ensure quality of care for older Australians”.

“Overwhelmingly, the majority of facilities provide excellent care and are working continually to improve services,” she says.

“Providers should be supported in those efforts by regulation that is firm but fair and allows providers the ability to innovate and stay ahead of consumers’ needs.

“For these reasons, providers want to see beneficial outcomes from these reviews for consumers and providers alike.”

Mr Rooney said data from the aged care complaints commissioner demonstrates that “overwhelmingly, the majority of facilities provide excellent care and are working continually to improve services.”

“However, our commitment to ensuring quality and safety is emphatic and we will work with the government to support initiatives that are effective in reaching this end,” Mr Rooney said.

Submissions from interested individuals and organisations are invited by Thursday, 8 February 2018.

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