Government accreditation is meant to ensure that the aged care facilities that older Australians are living in are up to scratch and providing adequate care to their residents.

But as the 7.30 on the ABC reported last night, some facilities are still able to get “top marks” despite having a number of complaints against them.

In part one of their two part investigation, 7.30 spoke to families whose loved one experiences acts of neglect and elder abuse during their time in aged care – and yet, each of these facilities managed to pass accreditation with flying colours.

Accreditation inspection in aged care happens every three year, with “unannounced” spot checks to happen at least once every year.

One of the daughters on 7.30 said that if facilities know well in advance when the inspections are to occur then they are able to prepare for them so that they pass.

This woman, who was visiting her mother at the time, saw the assessors arrive, “[the facility] would employ extra staff on the day that the accreditation came in and they would also have diversional therapy and activities that went all day and that never, ever happened”.

One of the incidences reported saw an elderly woman diabetes so poorly managed – she was given sugary meals and not receiving adequate treatment – that she eventually died from complications from her condition.

However, that facility was able to receive 100% on their last accreditation. 

Nick Ryan, the CEO of Australian Aged Care Quality Agency explained that “an accreditation scheme, especially in health accreditation, which accreditation standards are for aged care homes, is that they provide a safety net and a minimum standard that providers must meet.”

“They can’t guarantee that those policies and procedures, that the home is able to document, can be applied in 70 million days of aged care every single year.”

There’s a lack of transparency in the aged care sector, explains Lynda Saltarell  from Aged Care Crisis, “we can look up information about cars, computers, when you buy a mobile phone or any product except for when you are looking to place your mum or dad in a nursing home”

After part one of 7.30’s investigation, which aired on Wednesday nights, they received more stories of abuse and neglect from former aged care staff and families around Australia.

All of whom believe that “it’s the accreditation and complaints system which is broken”.

One of the accreditation’s biggest failures was seen in the Oakden nursing home in South Australia, which was closed down after allegations of years of neglect and abuse.

Due to this The Federal Government ordered an inquiry into the accreditation process and the agencies involved.

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ACRC’s Responsible Care initiative seeks to promote dialogue and engagement between all stakeholders in the sector. The sector has faced a history of limited transparency and accountability due to structural challenges of the sector. These issues are often left unresolved and deferred through a sector wide systemic trend historically to openly engage and commit to improvements.  We believe that the sector requires a concerted effort to look beyond negative events and individual stories of distress however important these are, and for real change, to ask questions and accept answers focusing on constructive intent, innovation, cultural change, accountability and leadership rather than blame and avoidance.

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