Commencement of Australia’s first aged care quality and safety commission
03 Jan 2019
1 January 2019 marked the commencement of the new unified Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission). The Commission’s aim is to integrate and streamline the governance roles of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency to create a “one stop shop” for overseeing compliance monitoring, complaints and customer service. From 1 January 2020, the Commission will also take on the regulatory functions of the Department of Health including the approval of providers of aged care, compliance and compulsory reporting of assaults.
The new Commission was established by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 (the Act), which was assented on 10 December 2018, to provide aged care consumers and providers of aged care with a single point of contact in relation to quality of care and regulation. Led by independent Commissioner Janet Anderson, the Commission brings together the Commission’s monitoring functions including assessment contacts, review audits of residential aged care services and maintenance by providers of plans for continuous improvement, and all aspects of non-compliance. The Commission will be responsible for the accreditation, assessment and monitoring of, and complaints handling of aged care services and Commonwealth-funded aged care services. The new Commission also features a new Chief Clinical Advisor providing advice to the Commission, particularly on complex clinical matters.
Changes to Regulatory Processes
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018 (the Rules) give operational effect to the process of the Commission, combining a number of previously separate legislative instruments and replacing a number of Principles including the Quality Agency Principles 2013. Although the new Rules look quite different due to the combined functions under the Act, the Commission has ensured that the core processes have been preserved. The Commission has also clarified the concepts around requirements for consent to access a service, and applied them to every form of a visit to the premises of a service, whether for the purposes of re-accreditation, a quality review, a review audit or an assessment contact.
The Act and Rules also introduce a number of changes to previous terminology and introduce new terminology that providers are likely to see and hear used by the Commission. For an overview of the new terminology please refer to the Language Glossary.
What this means for providers
The establishment of the Commission is intended to build on the Government’s recent introduction of unannounced re-accreditation audits across Australia’s residential aged care facilities. According to a media release by Ken Wyatt, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, the Commission will see a tripling of unannounced reaccreditation audits of residential aged care homes in 2019, compared to 2018, and a significant increase in unannounced inspections, to more than 3,000 care homes.
From 2 January 2019 providers will also be able to access a Regulatory Policy Helpdesk for support in understanding the Rules and their operational implications. The Commission’s new website also includes resources to help Providers meet the Standards, access to audit reports on aged care homes and Consumer Experience reports about individual aged care services.
The content of this report is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding the new commission, please contact Julie McStay, Director – Aged Care and Retirement Living, Hynes Legal.