The new audit system was a key recommendation of the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes, released in October 2017, and was enacted by the Federal Government in March of this year.
Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt says the introduction of the unannounced audits, which will see aged care homes no longer receive notice of the date of their re-accreditation audit, marks the beginning of a “quantum shift” in aged care quality compliance and customer-directed care.
“There will be no compromise,” he says.
“Audit teams will arrive at any time, to monitor and ensure the provision of safe, quality care 365 days of the year.
“This is about certainty and confidence for older Australians and families whose loved ones are receiving care.
“Statistics show that, overwhelmingly, Australia’s aged care homes provide outstanding services but our focus must be on maintaining high standards across the board and at all times.”
He adds that the new re-accreditation audit regime builds on the existing system of unannounced inspections by the Quality Agency.
“Since last July, the Agency has conducted almost 3,000 unannounced assessment visits on homes, targeting specific quality standard requirements, with nine homes losing their accreditation,” he explains.
“During re-accreditation audits, aged care residents are also encouraged to provide feedback.
“It is a requirement that the audit teams meet with at least 10 percent of a home’s care recipients and conduct Consumer Experience Interviews with a minimum number of randomly sampled residents.
“The audits also include opportunities for family feedback.
“The results of these interviews are then published on the Quality Agency website, along with the outcomes of the audits.”
The audits conducted require aged care homes to comply with four standards comprising 44 required outcomes, including the adequate provision of qualified staff, clinical care, nutrition, hygiene, dignity, privacy and security, to maintain their approval to receive Commonwealth funding.
As well as the introduction of the unannounced audits, the Federal Government has also been working on the nation’s new independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which is set to begin operations on 1 January 2019, as well as dedicating a funding commitment of more than $32 million for the Commission to “intensify compliance and strengthen risk profiling of aged care providers, with the aim of preventing care lapses before they occur.”
Minister Wyatt highlights that the Commission will also combine the functions of the current Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the aged care regulatory role of the Department of Health, as well as develop a Serious Incident Response Scheme, in consultation with the aged care sector.
When the decision was made to introduce the unannounced re-accreditation audits, aged care peak body Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) noted that the introduction “must be considered alongside the staffing and administrative practicalities the approach creates.”
All aged care accreditation, compliance decisions and resident feedback results are available to view online.