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Change is coming to aged care, so what does that mean?

The new Aged Care Quality Standards will be coming into affect on 1 July, which will change to the level of care received by consumers and the systems and practices utilised by aged care providers.

On July 1, the new Aged Care Quality Standards come into affect and will have an impact on those receiving aged care services as well as the providers of aged care services. [Source: Shutterstock]
On July 1, the new Aged Care Quality Standards come into affect and will have an impact on those receiving aged care services as well as the providers of aged care services. [Source: Shutterstock]

The aim of the new standards is to implement a single charter of rights and responsibilities for all consumers to receive from their provider, as well as clear directions for organisations of what they need to provide.

A spokesperson from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission says, “The new Standards place greater emphasis on ensuring that people accessing aged care services are treated with dignity and respect, and that they have good experiences and outcomes of care, as far as possible. Along with the new Charter of Aged Care Rights (also commencing on 1 July), the Standards clarify what consumers can expect from aged care services.

“For providers, the core elements of the Commission’s approach to performance assessment will continue under the new Standards. The new Standards require aged care providers to work with each consumer to plan and deliver safe, quality care that is shaped by the consumer’s individual needs, goals and preferences.  

“Within the broad parameters of the new Standards, providers have scope to innovate in delivering best practice care and services for their consumers.”

Changes to the new Quality Standards will replace the Accreditation Standards, Home Care Standards, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework Standards and Transition Care Standards.

With the 2016 Oakden nursing home scandal, which triggered the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, these changes have been long awaited for by both aged care workers and consumers to improve the sector.

Under the Standards, there will be better safeguards for those receiving aged care along with greater transparency in the sector, as well as a clear duty for aged care providers to adhere to.

The new Aged Care Quality Standards are a set of eight aspects of care that will contribute to the health, safety and wellbeing of older Australians.

1. Consumer dignity and choice

Each consumer will be treated with dignity and respect and make sure their identity, culture and diversity are valued.

It also means consumers will have the ability to exercise choice and independence, which includes being supported when taking risks to allow for better living.

Privacy and personal information are expected to be respected and kept confidential and all information provided to a consumer needs to be current, accurate and timely.

2. Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers

Every consumer will be included in the assessment and planning for their safe and effective care and services.

The planning will support the needs, goals and preferences of the individual, including advance care planning and end of life planning. This will include regular reviews for care and services to make sure goals are being properly delivered.

3. Personal care and clinical care

This requirement makes sure effective personal care and clinical care is provided to the consumer which is tailored to the needs, health and wellbeing of the individual.

If their mental health, cognitive or physical function changes, the provider will recognise this and respond with new care plans.

4. Services and supports for daily living

Every consumer will be able to engage in safe and effective services that support a healthy daily living optimising their independence, health and quality of life.

All holistic care will be taken into account when providing services along with active participation in their community and allowance to maintain social and personal relationships.

There are also requirements for meals to be suitable in quality and quantity, and for any equipment to be safe and well maintained.

5. Organisation’s service environment

The provider environment needs to be welcoming, safe and easy to understand, so the consumer feels like they belong and are able to maintain their independence.

This also means the environment will be clean, well maintained and comfortable with easy access to the indoors and outdoors. All furniture and equipment will be kept to a clean standard and are suitable for consumers to use.

6. Feedback and complaints

This requirement allows for open feedback and complaints from consumers, family, friends and carers towards the provider.

All consumers are aware they have access to advocates, language services and other groups to resolve or help with any complaints.

Any complaint will be appropriately acted upon by the provider and an open disclosure process will be in place if anything goes wrong. The feedback and complaints will also be reviews to help improve the quality of care.

7. Human resources

A provider must supply a workforce who will undertake work with care and respect towards their consumers and their identity, culture and diversity in mind.

All of their staff must be competent and have the qualifications and knowledge to perform their roles well.

The aged care workforce going forward will be trained, equipped and supported to deliver the best standards possible.

8. Organisational governance

Providers will need to engage with their consumers for development, delivery and evaluation of care and services.

The organisation’s governing body will also have a culture of safety and inclusivity, and be held accountable to the delivery of services.

Governance of aged care services will include risk management systems in place to identify and respond to abuse or neglect and support the best life possible for consumers.

All clinical care needs to minimise the use of restraints and supervise environments for transferable sicknesses, like the flu.

So how will these new Aged Care Quality Standards impact me?

Consumers can look forward to a safer, more accepting aged care system that is catering towards better care and happier living for their clients.

Providers will need to explain to consumers what these changes mean to them and how it will affect their care.

Consumers can feel assured that they will be receiving an appropriate amount of care and know what to expect from their service provider.

Providers are expected to do continual improvement in their care plan for their organisation as well towards the consumers receiving that care.

The providers will need to meet these standards and demonstrate they are doing so during a quality assessment from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Workplaces will need to self-assess whether they are meeting the current standards and find ways to improve their care systems.

Regulation of the sector will be simpler for providers across multiple aged care services, and encourages all providers to support innovation, excellence and continuous improvement.

Providers should be currently preparing to put these new systems into place by July 1.

For more information on the Aged Care Quality Standards and Charter of Aged Care Rights, visit the Commission website

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