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Study finds Government-run aged care averages better on quality indicators

New research released by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has found that Government operated aged care facilities outperform non-for-profit organisations and for-profit organisations on 50 quality indicators. 

Government operated aged care facilities showed the best average results for 31 of the 50 quality indicators and only make up nine percent of facilities across Australia. [Source: iStock]
Government operated aged care facilities showed the best average results for 31 of the 50 quality indicators and only make up nine percent of facilities across Australia. [Source: iStock]

The research paper has found that the indicators are highlighting significant differences between the types of residential aged care facilities that are available throughout Australia - Government, not-for-profit, and for-profit. 

Fifty-seven percent of Australian aged care facilities are run by not-for-profit organisations, 34 percent are operated by for-profit organisations, and only nine percent of facilities are operated by Government organisations.

Government operated aged care facilities showed the best average results for 31 of the 50 quality indicators, compared to only two indicators for non-for-profit facilities and one indicator for the for-profit facilities.

The non-profit facilities showed stronger average results than the for-profit facilities on 25 indicators, and for-profit facilities had stronger average results on two indicators.

Additionally, smaller facilities, with between 1-30 residents, had better average results for 24 of the indicators. Small facilities make up 11 percent of Australian aged care facilities, whereas 26 percent have 31-60 places, 32 percent have 61-100 places, and 31 percent have over 100 places.

Quality indicators that providers were tested against were topics related to clinical outcomes, compliance, complaints, reporting of assaults and missing residents, consumer experiences, and workforce levels.

Non-for-profit and for-profit providers had better results for antipsychotic use, chronic opioid use and high sedative load compared to Government-run facilities.

Government facilities scored better on hospitalisation of people with delirium or dementia, emergency department re-admission for long and short term residents, falls, fractures, medication-related events, pressure injuries, weight loss or malnutrition, and premature death.

They also had the best average results for being well run, making residents feel safe, nursing minutes, direct care staffing minutes, total staff minutes, and staff having competence in the care they provide. 

In other important areas, such as unexplained weight loss (including significant weight loss), pressure injuries (of all four varying degrees of severity), suspected deep tissue injuries, unstageable pressure injuries, and total pressure injuries, Government facilities had better averages than other types of aged care facilities.

According to the research, residents of Government-run facilities also felt more inclined to complain or highlight an issue (like health care, personal care, consultation and communication, personnel, and physical environment) compared to other facilities.

This study was described by the Royal Commission as "the most detailed profile of quality in residential aged care that has been published in Australia".

The Office of the Royal Commission conducted the research and analysed over 100 gigabytes of granular data from different parts of the aged care system. The information utilised was from the 2018/2019 financial year.

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