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What does accreditation mean in residential aged care?

Accreditation is an important process for the Government to know if an aged care provider is providing good care to their residents.

Key points:

  • Aged care providers are reviewed against the Aged Care Quality Standards introduced in 2020

  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) handles all accreditation and monitoring matters

  • Accreditation is a process of monitoring the quality of care provided to older Australians living in aged care facilities 

Older women receiving care and happy about it
Sometimes you, the resident, might be asked to be involved in an accreditation process. [Source: Shutterstock]

It can also highlight to you if you are receiving substandard care or help inform your selection of an aged care facility before you move in.

The accreditation process for aged care providers has changed since 1 January 2020. 

Originally, accreditation procedures were handled by the Department of Health, but the regulatory functions have been passed onto the independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission).  

Audit teams from the Commission are tasked with reviewing aged care services and they may be asking you for feedback on how well your provider is doing in providing care and fulfilling their obligations.

The quality of care of aged care providers will be assessed against a number of Aged Care Quality Standards that revolve around the wellness and safety of consumers.

And the Commission is making sure that providers are meeting those standards and provide a safe environment for you to live.

What is accreditation and how does it affect me?

Accreditation involves an aged care facility being reviewed or audited against the Aged Care Quality Standards by the Commission.

Sometimes you might be asked to be involved in an accreditation process!

The experience of consumers and the care they receive from their provider is incredibly important for the Commission.

It helps site auditors make judgements on if a facility is meeting the accreditation standards and are providing adequate care to their consumers.

Because consumer experience is an important part of aged care audits and reviews, a minimum of 10 percent of residents and their families in facilities can be interviewed by the Commission.

If a facility is going to be audited, your nursing home will let you, or your representative, know the date of the site audit, which provides you the opportunity to be involved in the assessment.

If the visit is unannounced, there is no set schedule by the assessment team, and they will undertake the site audit based on the entry meeting. During the entry meeting, the assessment team will arrange for interviews with staff and consumers.

You can provide any opinions you have about your aged care facility, the care you receive, good or bad, and if you are receiving adequate services.

Your interview will be used alongside the rest of the audit team's assessment and observations of the facilities management practices, systems and processes.

You are able to contact the Commission at any time about the quality of care and services you receive by ringing 1800 951 822. 

The new Aged Care Quality Standards consist of eight main standards:

  • Standard 1 - Consumer dignity and choice

  • Standard 2 - Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers

  • Standard 3 - Personal care and clinical care

  • Standard 4 - Services and supports for daily living

  • Standard 5 - Organisation’s service environment

  • Standard 6 - Feedback and complaints

  • Standard 7 - Human resources

  • Standard 8 - Organisational governance

Assessment teams will be looking for any potential failure by a facility to uphold the aged care standards of care or service that would put a resident at risk.

If a nursing home is found to be breaching the standards, the assessment team will pass this information along and escalate the matter further. This means your nursing home will receive a notice of non-compliance. Depending on the severity of the standards breach, they may even receive a sanction.

Providers not meeting the quality standards

If an assessed aged care provider doesn’t meet all the standards, the Commission will direct the provider to review their current plan for continuous improvement (PCI), set a timeframe to make improvements, and monitor their progress. 

Under the new standards, there is a big focus on providers having a written PCI. This encourages more focus on self-assessment through the continuous improvement process component.

A PCI shows your provider is taking active steps to either be constantly improving their systems or to improve problems that have been found by the Commission.

If your provider does not meet the standards, they may have to set more targets on their PCI.

If a provider has been deemed as putting their consumers at serious risk or shows no improvement, the Commission can place them under sanction or they could have their accreditation removed. For more information about sanctions and how that can affect you, head to our article on what sanctions are. (link to sanctions area)

If you are concerned about the residential care or home care you are receiving or your complaints have not been heard, there are a number of options you can take to get your complaints resolved.

What would you like to see included in the accreditation process? Tell us below.

Related content:

What do I do if I have a complaint about my care?
How do sanctions work?
The role of advocacy in aged care

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