Australia will have a new rating system for residential aged care services from 1 July 2020.
The ‘compliance rating’ will be published on the My Aged Care website with the aim of making it easier for families and older Australians to assess the quality of an aged care provider, and to make it easier to compare facilities.
The rating system has been developed by the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, with input from senior Australians, caregivers, providers and peak bodies.
The rating will reflect the provider’s “current compliance position”, a statement from the commission says. For example, it will show if a service has been sanctioned or has received a non-compliance notice, and will also reflect the facility’s most recent performance assessment by the Commission.
We believe the ratings will not be based on consumer feedback, they will be based purely on the Quality Commission’s audits and assessments. They will also not be based on a ‘star’ rating system, but rather on a colour-coded scale.
Rating system recommended in 2017
The rating system has been in development for some time. Though not the first to recommend some form of ‘rating’ system, in 2017 the Carnell-Paterson review noted a “striking feature” of Australia’s aged care system was a lack of reliable, comparable information about quality standards in residential aged care.
The review recommended the publication of “clear, readily intelligible information that includes some form of star rating against core standards”.
Australian aged care system lacks transparency
Last year, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety noted in its ‘Interim Report’ that Australia’s aged care system “lacks fundamental transparency”.
“There is very little information available to the public about the performance of service providers,” the report noted.
“The number of complaints against them are not published. The number of assaults in their services are not published. The number of staff they employ to provide care are not published. Participation by providers in the collection of a very limited set of performance indicators only became compulsory on 1 July 2019.”
The report noted The Department of Health’s intention to publish “differentiated performance ratings of residential aged care providers”, but said at that point there was still “no clarity” about what the system would look like.
The Interim Report also noted that the My Aged Care website “often” doesn’t provide “helpful information” about local aged care providers.
“Older people and their loved ones do not know what to look for when choosing a home.”
Ratings systems in America
The rating system could move Australia towards a system more like that in the United States, where a significant amount of care and quality information about every aged care provider is available on the Medicare.gov website.
The ‘Nursing Home Compare’ site provides star ratings for every aged care facility, or ‘nursing home’ as they are called in the US. An overall rating is provided, as are ratings for health inspections, staffing, and quality.
The site also sets out the number of hours registered nurses, nurses aides and physical therapists spend per day per person with residents.
Information about hospitalisations, emergency department visits, falls, uses of antipsychotic medication, urinary tract infections, catheters and abuse can also be found for every home.
Ratings in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the Care Quality Commission provides a summary of inspection findings on its website for all residential aged care facilities.
At the time of writing, no more information about Australia’s new aged care rating system has been made available to HelloCare, despite our request for further details.