Nearly half of all aged care ‘site audits’ in the final quarter of 2019  found at least one of the new quality standards was ‘not met’, according to new data released by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Of the 173 site audits conducted between October and December 2019, 45 per cent identified a ‘not met’ standard.

By comparison, in the six months from July to December 2018, only 11.1 per cent of site audits resulted in a ‘not met’ finding.

And in the July–September quarter of 2019, just over one-third – 37.3 per cent – of all site audits identified a ‘not met’ standard.

New person-centred aged care quality standards were introduced in Australia in July 2019, and were a significant shift in emphasis for the sector. Aged care providers asked to put the ‘client’ at the centre of operations.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson PSM, told HelloCare there has been an increase in non-compliance since the introduction of the new standards.

“The Aged Care Quality Standards were implemented on 1 July 2019. This represents a significant change in the performance data for the Commission’s Sector Performance Report,” she said. 

“The first two quarters of the Aged Care Quality Standards have shown a higher rate of non-compliance with the requirements than was the case under the previous Accreditation Standards. 

“Requirements under the new Standards have a stronger focus on outcomes for consumers and providers are expected to demonstrate that they understand and apply this in practice. 

“The Commission has found a higher rate non-compliance as services adjust to the new settings.”

The change has coincided with a period of unprecedented scrutiny of the aged care sector, both in the media and from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission as well as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. 

Both the new standards and a sharpened focus on the sector are likely to be the causes of the jump in non-compliance.

Ms Anderson said the commission has a range of tools it can use to ensure providers meet the requirements of the new standards, including education of providers, varying of the period of accreditation, revoking accreditation, further monitoring, making a plan for continuous improvement, monitoring return to compliance, and, in the most serious cases, imposing sanctions, or suspension or revocation of approval of an approved provider.

“It is important to note that it is not one size fits all,” Ms Anderson said. She said those providers who adopt a positive approach to improvement are treated differently to those more reluctant to adapt.

“Where non-compliance is found, we direct the provider to improve but the action we may take if a provider of a service demonstrates they are willing and able to comply and to take all reasonable steps to do so will be different from the escalating action to sanction a provider that cuts corners on quality and safety or deliberately avoids compliance obligations and, perhaps, places consumers at risk of harm,” Ms Anderson said.

The most common unmet standards were risk management, clinical care, and governance.

Medication management top aged care complaint

The number of complaints were down slightly, from 1,456 in the September 2019 quarter to 1,346 in the December 2019 quarter.

During the six months to December 2018, there were 2,614 complaints.

The most common complaint during the December quarter was medication management (427 complaints), which remains consistently at the top of the list. Personnel (318) was the second most complained about aspect of aged care, and personal and oral hygiene (315) the third most complained about aspect. Fall prevention and management (284) and consultation and communication (224) were fourth and fifth on the list.


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