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Review of Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes put on hold

The signatories of the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes have decided it is still too early to tell if the Code has been effectively implemented across the sector and will need more time to receive feedback.

There is evidence to show that the new Code has made a substantial difference in the sector and that visitations in aged care facilities are being undertaken.[Source: iStock]
There is evidence to show that the new Code has made a substantial difference in the sector and that visitations in aged care facilities are being undertaken.[Source: iStock]

After much tension between the Federal Government and the aged care sector over visitation bans in individual aged care facilities, the Industry Code was introduced on 12 May in a bid to regulate visitation rights in aged care during COVID-19.

It was created to ease the stress and concerns many family members and residents were experiencing after many providers went in to full lockdown, not allowing any visitors on site.

It has been noted that there is substantial evidence proving that the Code has made a stark improvement in the sector and there has been an increase in the availability of visits to residents.

Additionally, there has been a decrease in complaints around lack of visits on compassionate grounds, however, there are some issues that remain.

At this stage, there will be no changes made to the Code in its current state, even after the first review of the finalised Code on 29 May.

The organisations involved in the creation of the Code will continue to monitor the implementation of the Code and any highlighted shortcomings over the next several weeks.

There are 13 aged care peak bodies and advocacy groups who are signatories of the code, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), National Seniors Australia, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Dementia Australia, Carers Australia, UnitingCare Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Aged Care Guild, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, and Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA).

In a joint statement from the involved organisations, a few issues with the Code were highlighted that need to be monitored further and may result in a code readjustment.

This includes issues around medical appointments, the impact of limitations in frequency and duration of visits, the appropriate use of window visits as an alternative to in-room or in-person visits where those cannot occur, external visits by residents, and other matters.

All of the signatories agreed that rather than changing a relatively new Code, they believe the best first step is to create Questions and Answers (Q and A's) which explain Code provisions in better detail with best practice examples, and these Q and A's need to be communicated to the Peaks members to assist with the broad implementation and adherence to the Code.

If this approach is successful and there is a need for the Code to be amended, then there will be further discussion and considerations before the next review which will take place in three weeks.

The Code was finalised and released in the middle of May and the involved organisations have been collecting feedback from the public on how the Code has been working on the ground in aged care facilities.

The public is still encouraged to provide feedback on how the Code is working ahead of the next review.

To find out more about the Code, read the Talking Aged Care article overview from last month.

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