For many since the announcement of a Royal Commission into Aged Care, this has been an emotive time. From those having loved ones they wished to see championed and protected, to passionate aged care workers who wanted their voices heard in their industry, feelings of hope, justice, frustration and progress have all concurrently been at play.

Close to a month away in Adelaide, January 18th 2019 will see the first of the many hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. As the commencement hearing for the Royal Commission draws near, the desire for transparent, rigorous and positive change are displaying the encouraging passion of Australians striving towards the best sector for our seniors.

Survey Response

In addition to detailing the logistical details for the hearings, Commissioners Justice Joseph McGrath and Lynelle Briggs have appealed to approved aged care providers to make voluntary early submissions to the commission regarding any instances of poor care or complaints since the year 2013.

The country’s 100 largest providers have been tasked with responding to the commission’s eight-question survey by January 7, while the remaining providers have been given until February 8. It has been stated that the report should not be more than 50 pages per service or outlet.

In response to confusion from providers, the commission has clarified its terms and scope of the survey, including the areas of substandard care and mistreatment.

The commission has stated that while cooperation is encouraged, information proffering remains optional at the present time. Yet they have advised that, “The Royal Commission has extensive compulsory powers and may, if necessary, exercise those to secure the information in question.”

Substandard Care Definition

In relation to questions 1 and 2 on the survey, the commission has advised providers to approach it from a certain reference point. Providers are to express where they did not meet the appropriate quality standards under the Quality of Care Principles 2014 or obligations outlined in the Aged Care Act, one of which is the Charter of Care Recipients Rights and Responsibilities.

The commission has stated that, “Providers should also include care which, in their view, did not meet the high standards of quality and safety that the Australian community expects of aged care services.”

In comprehending the interpretation of terms such as mistreatment and abuse, providers are encouraged to adopt a lens of reasonability that incorporates community understandings.

Systemic Failure

The commission has sought to provide clarification when it comes to interpreting systemic failure. Providers are advised to view systemic failure as when there has been a breakdown in appropriate and standard-met functioning across the service at large, not an isolated instance.

As the journey towards the first hearing continues, it is important to acknowledge that open dialogue from all members in the aged care community remains robust and open. Clarification from the commission allows for precise and transparent information to be relayed and interpreted. It is through the communal pursuit of excellence, unity and comprehension that sustained progress can be made for our vital sector.

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