Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt says the new Commission will better target substandard care and ensure the safety and security of senior Australians.
“With the motto ‘Engage, Empower and Safeguard’, the Commission flags a new beginning for aged care quality and safety,” Mr Wyatt says. “A single Commissioner overseeing compliance monitoring, complaints and customer service means no more silos.
“For the first time, senior Australians and their loved ones have one place to go when they need help, want to raise a concern, or access information about an aged care service.”
In another first, the Commission includes a new Chief Clinical Advisor to oversee quality care delivery across the nation.
“The Commission will also be empowered by the new aged care Charter of Rights and will implement the new, stronger set of Aged Care Quality Standards, the first upgrade of standards in 20 years,” Mr Wyatt says.
The Commission has a budget of almost $300 million over four years, with more than $48 million to continue ramping up compliance checks and risk management, including the employment of dozens of new compliance officers and developing options for a Serious Incident Response Scheme.
The Commission website includes details on:
Aged care consumer rights
Access to free advocacy services to support senior Australians
Consumer Experience Reports about individual aged care services
Access to audit reports on aged care homes
How to register complaints, including tips on documenting concerns
New resources to help providers meet the Standards
Translation services to support non-English speaking clients
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pat Sparrow says the peak body is committed to working with the Commission to ensure regulatory functions uphold high standards and fairness at all times.
“All those with an interest in aged care, whether as a resident or a provider, need the system to function with firm but fair regulation that protects the principles of safety and quality of life,” Ms Sparrow says.
“It is vital the community has confidence that the regulation protecting their loved ones enshrines safety and quality of life and also functions effectively, and quickly, to identify and respond to any instances of substandard care.”
The inaugural Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson says she is delighted to open the new Commission.
“Our key focus will be on safeguarding the more than 1.3 million senior Australians who receive some form of aged care service,” Ms Anderson says.
“Unannounced re-accreditation audits of aged care homes will triple in 2019 compared to 2018, with an increase in unannounced inspections to more than 3,000 this year.”
Council of the Ageing Australia (COTA) CEO Ian Yates says the Commission is a significant step towards stronger monitoring of quality in Australia’s aged care system, but says the Government needs to go further and give consumers direct control over their aged care funding.
“This was announced in principle in the last Federal Budget but the development of an implementation plan has been delayed and needs to be given the highest priority,” Mr Yates says.
“The new Commission is a vital step forward, but it cannot do the whole job – we need a concerted array of policy measures and increased funding to raise the bar for the whole aged care sector.”
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney says the system “requires world-class funding to match”.
“The safety and care of older Australians is not negotiable and our industry is committed to continuous improvement of quality outcomes in aged care,” Mr Rooney says.
“Australia spends about 30 percent less as a share of GDP on aged care than the average of other advanced economies and more support for older Australians and age services is urgently needed.”
Formation of the independent Commission was a key recommendation of the Carnell-Paterson Review, ordered by the Government following South Australia’s Oakden aged care senate inquiry.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission can be contacted on 1800 951 822 or by visiting the Commission website.