- The Star Rating system (out of five) is the metric used by the Aged Care Commission to determine how well a residential facility provider is sticking to Government standards
- The four categories for assessment are: compliance, residents’ experiences, quality measures and staffing
- Providers must display their Star Rating on all public marketing and information materials, so it’s easy for the public to know the quality of care
This edition of Aged Care Guide will help you or someone you take care of to determine which aged care facilities are right for you. This Guide will provide an overview of the Star Rating system, along with an insight into each of the four criteria and discuss whether it is safe to trust a provider with fewer Stars.
The Star Rating system was introduced in December 2022 and aged care providers are given a Rating based on their performance across four categories which are weighted differently.
Compliance is worth 30 percent of the overall Rating and is the most important for providers, as it caps the Star Rating they receive, meaning that their reporting and transparency with the Commission will determine the maximum Star Rating they can get, even if they do well in other areas. This ensures that clients and their families are not misled by selective reporting or cover-ups.
Providers are eligible to receive assessment after a minimum of twelve months since opening, but a five-Star reputation means the facility has not only succeeded in providing a good quality of care, staffing and positive experience to residents — it has also reported to the Commission on-time and without incident for a minimum of three years.
Here’s what you need to know about each Rating:
One Star — needs significant improvement
Two Stars — needs improvement
Three Stars — satisfactory quality of care
Four Stars — positive quality of care
Five Stars — the highest quality of care
To check the Star Rating of a provider, check the Government register using the ‘Find a Provider’ tool online. Through clicking the option to see the Rating, you will be able to see the Overall number of Stars, but clicking through to the individual facility profile will allow you to see the breakdown of each category.
Compliance is the most important category for the Commission and for residents or those considering residential aged care. Essentially, the Commission will assess a facility periodically and if it finds any issues, it will task the provider with improving or resolving the issue. If the provider does not resolve the issue or intend to resolve the issue by the next assessment, it may be sanctioned or given notice.
The aged care facility must comply with the following eight Quality Standards:
- Consumer dignity and choice
- Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
- Personal care and clinical care
- Services and supports for daily living
- Organisation’s service environment
- Feedback and complaints
- Human resources
- Organisational governance
Although compliance is the most important category for aged care providers, feedback from residents living in the facilities contributes slightly more to the overall Star Rating as it is weighted at 33 percent of the overall score.
Roughly 10 percent of residents will be surveyed in a facility by a third party in an annual face-to-face interview, where they will be asked a series of questions about their experience in the aged care home. Based on four potential answers to each question, ranging from positive to negative, a score is tabulated and assigned to show whether residents are happy staying in the facility.
Through the Quality Indicator (QI) Program, residential facilities must report their findings on the 11 total Indicators, with QIs six to 11 introduced in July of 2023:
- Pressure injuries
- Physical restraint
- Unplanned weight loss
- Falls and major injury
- Medication management including poly-pharmacy and anti-psychotics
- Activities of daily living
- Incontinence care
- Consumer experience
- Quality of life
Providers must report QI program metrics to the Commission on a quarterly basis in order to comply with Quality Standards. QI reports must be submitted no later than the 21st day of the month after the end of each quarter.
Staffing is given a Star Rating based on how many minutes of care are provided to a resident by a Registered Nurse (RN), enrolled nurse and personal care worker, compared to the target set by the Government. Currently, the sector-wide average is 200 minutes of care per resident per day, which includes 40 minutes from a RN. Care minutes do not include time spent with lifestyle staff, general aged care staff, cleaning, allied health or maintenance staff.
The Government is announcing new regulations in September of 2023 for changes set to take effect on October 1. The target of care minutes is set to increase to an average of 215 per resident, including 44 minutes of RN care.
Are providers with less than five Stars safe?
Although horror stories in the news make many people wary of trusting aged care facilities, the vast majority of the sector is rated three Stars or higher, making it a safe bet that you or your loved one will be safe without necessarily having a five-Star home.
As of May 2023, new Government reports revealed that:
54 services (two percent) achieved five Stars (excellent)
964 services (39 percent) achieved four Stars (good)
1,357 services (54 percent) received three Stars (acceptable)
119 services (five percent) received two Stars (improvement required)
Six services (0 percent) received one Star (significant improvement required)