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Unannounced audits set to shake up residential aged care in sector reforms

Reforms to introduce unannounced quality and safety audits throughout all Australian residential aged care homes have come into play over the weekend at the hands of federal government as part of a commitment to “consistently maintain standards of care” across the industry.

Australian aged care homes will now be subject to unannounced audits (Source: Shutterstock)
Australian aged care homes will now be subject to unannounced audits (Source: Shutterstock)

The reform rollout was enacted as part of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency Legislation Amendment (Unannounced Reaccrediation Audits) Principles 2018, an means that aged care homes across the country will no longer be given notice of the date of their re-accreditation audit.

Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt says the decision to introduce the new audit system was a key recommendation of the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes, which was released in October 2017.

“The introduction of unannounced accreditation audits builds on existing unannounced compliance monitoring by the Quality Agency,” the Minister explains.

“These changes will strengthen the oversight of aged care services to provide greater assurance that standards of care are consistently maintained, not just at re-accreditation times.”

Minister Wyatt adds that while the vast majority of aged care homes provide excellent service all year, this reform is designed to give residents and their families’ greater confidence in care delivery.

“Our commitment to safe, high-quality care is non-negotiable and I am sure is shared by all Australians,” he adds.

“Every senior Australian deserves to be treated with dignity and to receive the best cane and I am committed to working with providers and everyone involved in this vital sector to ensure Australia continues to provide world-class aged care.”

Aged care peak body, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has been heavily involved and invested in the changes and proposed changes within the industry, with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pat Sparrow saying the organisation’s position on unannounced re-accreditation remains the same.

“ACSA’s position on unannounced re-accreditation audits remains unchanged,” she says.

“However the legislation introducing them from 1 July 2018 has now passed and they will become a reality.

“Their introduction must be considered alongside the staffing and administrative practicalities the approach creates without any evidence that this approach will improve the care outcomes for residents.”

Minister Wyatt adds that since the release of the Review in October last year, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency has conducted over 1,500 unannounced assessment visits on homes, targeting specific quality standard requirements.

In addition, the Agency has also increased its focus on broader areas of risk, conducting unannounced review audits of all 44 required quality outcomes at 22 homes - leading to five homes’ accreditation revoked since July 2017.

The new reforms to re-accreditation audits also include:

Improved avenues for resident and family feedback

Tighter profiling of homes to identify potential care and safety risks

Self-assessment of performance prior to the audit

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