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Breaking Royal Commission news heard at ITAC 2018

Breaking news from the Royal Commission into aged care has been heard at the annual Information and Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference which was held 21-22 November at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Written correspondence will be sent out to all aged care providers from next week to help inform the Royal Commission into aged care hearings in February 2019 [Source: Shutterstock]
Written correspondence will be sent out to all aged care providers from next week to help inform the Royal Commission into aged care hearings in February 2019 [Source: Shutterstock]

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Pat Sparrow announced that written correspondence will be sent out to all aged care providers from next week to help inform the Royal Commission into aged care hearings in February 2019.

The Commissioners will be seeking comments on what aged care providers think needs to change within the sector and how it can be changed, as well as seeking data around instances of substandard care complaints and any improvements that have been made by providers.

“They’ll also be asking questions around issues around the interface between health, aged care and disability,” Ms Sparrow says.

Letters will be sent out next week to the top 100 largest aged care providers, with a response due 7th January 2019.

Other providers will be written to a week or so later, with responses requested in February when formal hearings will commence.

“[Royal Commissioners ed.] They are clearly trying to run it as transparently as possible,” she says.

Ms Sparrow says ACSA and other aged care peak bodies will be standing by to assist providers with this process.

“ACSA is supporting its members to deal with the Aged Care Royal Commission through resources and advice from our Royal Commission Advisory Panel and dedicated helpline for members.”

She also says now is the time for aged care providers to start preparing for the Royal Commission.

“Providers should be preparing now for information that may be requested by the Royal Commission, and for some, the formation of an internal Working Group will help.”

“Starting with examination of their documentation systems - to ensure easy and clear access to relevant information that may be requested - and to undertake a review of their ‘Board and Governance’ and ‘Organisational and Operational’ processes, policies and procedures.”

Fellow peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has also expressed its willingness to offer support to providers who need it.

“LASA is continuing to support Members to assist them to constructively engage with the Royal Commission process, including the establishment of a web page to house a range of resources,” CEO of LASA Sean Rooney says.    

To help aged care providers be as prepared as possible, Russell Kennedy Lawyers has recommended providers consider the below preparation strategies and activities.

  • Examine document management systems to ensure fast access to relevant information that may be requested by the Royal Commission

  • Undertake a review of your complaint handling process (have an honest self-assessment) and review Complaints policy/procedure –  based on the open disclosure framework in the new Single Quality Standards (Standard 6)

  • Consider a compliance audit – not just aged care assessment standards, but also include other systems that may be examined by the Royal Commission

  • Consider undertaking internal reviews of each other’s teams

  • Develop a social media policy

  • Develop a Board Code of Conduct that sets the tone for the values/culture of the organisation

  • Form an internal Royal Commission Team and develop a Royal Commission policy/procedure in case the organisation is called to give evidence

    • Determine who will represent organisation – this should be someone who understands the business inside out and can answer questions honestly with real and genuine empathy

    • Identify risks: who may make a submission to the Royal Commission

    • Develop a draft response, ie

      • Apologise if necessary if the complaint was not handled well

      • What has been done to improve care and future response to complaints

      • The organisation’s vision for the future of their service

    • Develop draft communications for residents, families and staff.

More information to help prepare for the Royal Commission can be found here.

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