The new commissioners of the Royal Commission in to Aged Care Quality and Safety has written to the nation’s top 100 aged care operators, asking them to self-report on details of their operations.

The request for information is the first step in the Royal Commission’s information gathering process. The deadline for providing information is January.

Smaller operators will also be contacted, and will be given a later deadline.

The letters mark what will be a huge information-gathering process involving every aged care facility in Australia, and also begins a process of review for all operators of their own individual systems and processes.

With new quality standards coming in next year, as well as the reflections prompted by the Royal Commission, the sector is embarking on a period of intense change.

Operators warned not to fire employees because of Royal Commission

As the Royal Commission gets underway, operators are being encouraged to cooperate with all requests for information.

A webinar by legal firm, Russell Kennedy, ‘The Aged Care Royal Commission, what does it mean for you?’, says the commissioners have “substantial powers” to compel operators to provide documentation.

In the webinar, operators are also warned not to fire staff who who they fear could become whistleblowers.

“If a staff member is called upon to give evidence, you must not interfere,” the webinar says.

“If you dismiss them, you might face criminal consequences and significant financial penalties, both for yourself and for the organisation.”

Evidence of proper staffing and skills mixes

Operators could be asked to show they have the appropriate number of staff with the necessary skills to provide proper care, and to demonstrate they have systems in place to ensure that level of staffing is adequate.

According to the webinar, to say staffing levels are “adequate for the needs of the residents” will not be sufficient. Operators will need to show the research and thinking they have used to determine their staffing levels.

How frequently operators review staffing levels could also likely a consideration of the Royal Commission. Information about systems that minimise the possibility of an employee doing “something appalling” or making an unintentional mistake may also be called for.

HelloCare contacted Russell Kennedy law firm for comment, but at the time of publishing had not yet received a response.

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