In the wake of numerous findings of grievous neglect and malpractice in many aged care facilities in Australia, the Turnbull government has announced a new ‘one-stop-shop’ agency, to be called the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

This new agency bringing together the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the aged care regulatory arm of the Health Department will be the first and all encompassing point of call for complaints and quality control in aged care, beginning 1 January 2019.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt released the information this week and has gone on to outline the changes that will be taking place.

Mr Wyatt has articulated that “The unified new commission will be a responsive, one-stop shop to prevent failures, highlight quality concerns and have them quickly rectified,” a move to bring efficiency, awareness and agency to a sector that has long been plagued with scandal.

In response to the allegations from one family whose loved one had been receiving care at the government run Oakden facility, a review of national aged care regulation was conducted.

The review and a later scathing report that looked into the Oakden facility found in March that elderly dementia patients at the facility were abused and neglected by their carers for over ten years.

The author of the report, South Australian anti-corruption commissioner, Bruce Lander found damning maladministration instances against five individuals and the public authority overseeing the facility.

The issues relating to care and management were found to not be just facility based but be prevalent in higher elements of government administration.

The consolidation of aged care watchdog services is a direct recommendation from the review and findings.

The Council on the Ageing has weighed in to comment that these latest federal reforms are a “significant step” towards “better monitoring and enforcement” of aged care compliance and tentatively starting the journey to rebuilding trust within the system.

Mr Wyatt continued by stating, “We’ll also have a serious incident response scheme, which came out of the Australian Law Reform Commission recommendations, so that we protect senior Australians who are vulnerable in facilities.”

Importantly a chief clinical advisor will be brought on board to assist the commission on complex clinical issues including the fraught issue of worker skill level and qualifications.

The advisor will seek to advise on the risk profiling of aged care workers, Mr Wyatt acknowledging that “”What we’ve seen around this country is that … staff who have been trained in a very short timeframe, and who have not had hands-on experience, struggle.”

In an industry where patients have tremendously large barriers to voicing their concerns and protecting themselves, a huge part of the reform will seek to train an eye upon worker training and recruitment.

The taskforce will be up and running come January 1 2019.

By Amy Henderson – HelloCare Journalist

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