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Quality and Safety Commissioner ‘first step’ in new era of aged care

An important step in the nation’s transition to the newly announced independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has been taken, with the official appointment of the first Quality and Safety Commissioner.

Highly respected health sector leader Janet Anderson has been appointed to the position of Quality and Safety Commissioner, which will commence on 1 January 2019 (Source: Shutterstock)
Highly respected health sector leader Janet Anderson has been appointed to the position of Quality and Safety Commissioner, which will commence on 1 January 2019 (Source: Shutterstock)

Highly respected and experienced health sector leader Janet Anderson has been appointed to the position, which will commence on 1 January 2019, bringing with her an extensive background across a number of national and State and Territory roles.

In her new role, Ms Anderson will oversee the approval, accreditation, assessment, complaints resolution, monitoring and compliance of Commonwealth-funded aged care providers, and will be reporting directly to the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt.

Minister Wyatt says her appointment and the independent Commission will help usher in a new era in certainty, accountability and confidence in aged care in Australia.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the journey towards a better, safer aged care system, with Australia’s first aged care quality and safety Commissioner appointed to lead the new and independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission,” he says.

“While the Royal Commission into the aged care sector undertakes its critical review, the formation of the Quality and Safety Commission highlights our Government’s absolute commitment to continuing reform.

“The new Commission will immediately integrate and streamline the roles of the current Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.”

The Minister adds that the new Commission is a “key part” of the Australian Government’s response to the recommendations of the Carnell-Patterson review of failures at the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service in South Australia.

He says the Commissioner will be a “one-stop-shop” for aged care residents, their families and aged care providers on aged care quality and safety matters.

“Senior Australians and their families will know who to contact when they need help with a complaint, a concern or when something goes wrong.

“They will know that the aged care system is safe and will support their choices, rather than make choices for them

“Providers will also benefit from being able to deal with one regulatory agency, and know who to contact in relation to their accreditation, quality monitoring and compliance requirements.”

Aged care peak bodies - Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) have both shared their support of Ms Anderson’s appointment to the role.

ACSA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pat Sparrow says she is particularly pleased to see the Government proceed with important reforms to strengthen the safety and quality system.

“All those parties with an interest in aged care, whether as a resident or a provider, need the system to function with firm but fair regulation that protects the principles of safety and quality of life.

“As an industry and a community, we have zero tolerance for poor or inattentive care and Australians have the right to expect a regulatory system to reflect and enforce that at all times.

“We absolutely need regulation that holds to account those who abuse or neglect and identifies those instances of sub-standard care in a timely and effective way.

“The community needs certainty and confidence that the regulation protecting their loved ones is functioning effectively.”

Chief Executive of consumer advocacy peak body - Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Ian Yates, says the timely appointment of the Commissioner was one more important step forward in fostering accountability and confidence in the aged care system and ensuring older Australians receive the highest quality aged care they rightfully deserve.

“Over the last few months we have been confronted with shocking stories of older Australians being neglected, mistreated and quite frankly, badly let down by some providers in our aged care industry.

“The imminent launch of the Commission, and the appointment of Janet Anderson, is another step toward a new era for aged care in Australia, an era in which older Australians and families can get the aged care they want and deserve and be confident it will be a high-quality service,” he says.

“Janet Anderson has an impressive resumé and is well equipped to lead the Commission in tackling the complexities and specific challenges riddling our aged care system and its effective regulation – COTA Australia congratulates Janet on her appointment and looks forward to working closely with her in her role as Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner.”

Minister Wyatt says Ms Anderson will be assisted in her new role by aged care medical expert Associate Professor Michael Murray, who is working as the new interim Chief Clinical Advisor to support “key establishment activities”, until Ms Anderson appoints a permanent clinical advisor to the role.

Unannounced re-accreditation audits and unannounced inspections are both set to increase this year, with $48.2 million allocated specifically to expand monitoring and compliance teams, continue the unannounced inspections, better identify substandard care and to develop options for a Serious Incident Response Scheme.

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