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Quality Agency consults with consumers for new standards

The Australian Government statutory agency in charge of setting and monitoring standards and quality within aged care is turning to consumers to develop new standards and resources.

The Quality Agency has been conducting focus groups and one-to-one conversations with consumers (Source: Shutterstock)
The Quality Agency has been conducting focus groups and one-to-one conversations with consumers (Source: Shutterstock)

As part of their work with stakeholders to develop guidance on the standards, pilot the draft standards, and develop the resources to help consumers understand the new standards and what they can expect from their service provider, the Aged Care Quality Agency (The Agency) has been conducting focus groups and one-to-one conversations with consumers from different regions and backgrounds, as well as asking for feedback via emailed questionnaires.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Quality Agency, Nick Ryan, says the focus groups have been looking at what consumers want and need to know about quality standards in aged care, as well as how consumers would like to receive information.

So far the consumers consulted as part of the initiative include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) elders, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, people experiencing social or economic disadvantage, and consumers living with dementia.

“We are looking at all types of consumers,” he explains.

“The Quality Agency wants to understand the different ways people access information, and what they find most useful.

“We also want to know how people make decisions about their care [and] understand how and when people think about quality of care, and how information gets shared.

“The Quality Agency needs to provide information for all aged care consumers [and], as noted in the Aged Care Diversity Framework released by the Government in December 2017, it is important to ‘build an inclusive, respectful, and person centred aged care system’.

“Understanding the information needs of all older Australians will help meet that goal.”

So far, Mr Ryan says the consultations have been “affirming” that there is great diversity in how older people are accessing information, and not just between different groups of older Australians, but within groups too.

Mr Ryan adds that the findings will help the Quality Agency to understand what information on the new standards is important to consumers and how to best deliver that.

“The findings are still being finalised however  it is not surprising to find that consumers appreciate hearing what others have said about a service,” he says.

“What is more surprising to us so far is the extent to which consumers value having someone standing beside them when they are dealing with information and decisions about aged care, the specificity of consumer information needs related to their particular aged care journey, and differences between consumer’s experience and language of quality that is often used by experts to describe ‘quality’.”

While a number of consumer groups have already been involved in the discussion groups, there will continue to be more consultation between now and July, 2018, as well as the testing of resources that will become available when the new standards are implemented.

Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt has also been meeting and working with senior Australians to discuss aged care, hosting a “lively aged care forum” in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs on 16 April alongside local Member of Parliament Julia Banks.

The Minister says he values these forums immensely, adding that they are a great way to meet local seniors, to hear their stories and their ideas for the future of world-class aged care in Australia.

“This is vital input for the Turnbull Government’s landmark reform agenda, which aims to consistently deliver quality aged care that is accessible, affordable and sustainable,” he says.

“Through these conversations we can understand what’s working and what could be improved.”

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