Is your aged-care home delivering the best level of care possible? Perhaps you’re not sure, and you’re wondering: how can I tell?
Since 1 July 2019, a set of eight Aged Care Quality Standards has been in place to clearly define what good care looks like.
All Australian Government-funded aged-care providers need to meet these Quality Standards, and they apply not only to aged-care facilities but also to home-care services and support providers.
Your provider’s performance is independently reviewed, assessed and monitored by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (of course there’s an acronym attached: ACQSC), and you can read the Commission’s reports online. The Commission’s assessment teams carry out site, review and quality audits on aged-care homes nationwide; these audits can be scheduled or they can come out of the blue.
The eight Quality Standards range from the purely practical, such as your personal and clinical care; to the managerial and environmental, including your level of comfort and ability to provide feedback.
So what happens if the Quality Standards aren’t being met? The Department of Health’s ACQSC steps in to issue a Notice of Non-compliance or a sanction.
Notice of Non-compliance
If the services provided by your home fail to meet the Aged Care Quality Standards, and the non-compliance is identified as low or medium risk, the Commission can issue a Direction to Revise a Plan for Continuous Improvement.
If the non-compliance is identified as high risk, a Notice of Non-compliance will be issued. This notice:
- identifies the issues that need to be addressed by your service provider, and notes any failure to meet Accreditation Standards outlined in a range of Qualify of Care Principles
- sets an agreed time frame for these issues to be addressed.
Problems raised in a Notice of Non-compliance can range from administrative failures or lack of staffing development to environmental, health and safety concerns affecting residents.
If your service provider doesn’t address these issues before the deadline imposed, a sanction can be placed on them by the Department of Health.
A Notice of Non-compliance is serious. A Notice of Decision to Impose Sanctions is more serious still.
A sanction can apply not only to service providers who fail to address high-risk issues indicated in a Notice of Non-compliance within an agreed period of time. More seriously, a sanction can be placed on providers of aged-care services whose failure to meet the Quality Standards is deemed to be putting residents’ safety, health or wellbeing at immediate and severe risk.
Depending on the results of the Commission’s audit, and the types of issues identified, a range of sanctions may be placed on a service provider. The issues might relate to how a home is managed, organised and staffed; whether standards are being upheld in areas such as clinical care, pain management and behavioural management; or the quality of leisure interests and activities provided.
A sanction will call for the provider to:
- enlist expert assistance, at their own expense, to help with providing solutions as quickly as possible
- assist with compliance in providing care and services
- provide training for staff and managers.
A time frame will be imposed, usually a period of six months. If the issues have been rectified by the end of this time, the sanctions will be lifted.
While a sanction is in place, a service provider may be unable to take on new care recipients. In extreme cases, the home can lose its status as an approved provider of aged-care services.
What happens if your home is sanctioned?
If your home receives a sanction, you will be sent a letter alerting you to the problems that have been identified, and explaining what the sanction means. The onus is on your service provider to arrange a meeting with residents and family members to clearly explain what the problems are, how they will be fixed and when. The Commission will follow up to check that the issues have indeed been fixed.
If a sanction has been placed on your home, rest assured that your care will still be ensured, as the provider will continue to receive funding for existing residents.
What to do if you have concerns
- Speak to your provider directly.
- Call the National Aged Care Advocacy Program on 1800 700 600.
- Lodge a complaint with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, either via their website or by calling 1800 951 822.
Want to check your home’s status? The Government’s non-compliance checker will tell you if an aged-care home or Home Care Package service provider has received a Non-compliance Notice or sanction.