COTA Australia supports legislative and policy change that reduces the use of chemical and physical restraint in residential aged care.
Establishing a new definition of ‘restrictive practice’, replacing the wording ‘chemical and physical restraint’, is a welcome change as it provides for a broader range of harmful actions and circumstances and aligns with the definition applied in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
We strongly support the proposals in this Bill for improved requirements regarding informed consent and the regular emphasis and focus on restrictive practices being used only as a last resort after other strategies have been employed and informed consent received. Consideration of risk to the older person and others and reference to User Rights principles is also important.
Of some concern is the lack of detail in the Bill regarding what constitutes an ‘emergency’, in which informed consent and last resort principles need not apply. There is no maximum time that an “emergency” may continue before these principles apply again, leaving open the possibility of an emergency continuing for some time. The Explanatory Memorandum states that a change in behaviour can constitute an emergency but provides no other details of which we are currently aware.
Home Care Assurance Reviews
COTA Australia supports greater oversight of home care providers through home care assurance reviews. The Bill enables legislative powers for the Department to both monitor the appropriateness and effectiveness of home care service delivery and inform the development of home care policy, service design and professional development of approved providers.
COTA Australia once again raises its concern that Section 86 in the current Aged Care Act results in restrictions on disclosure that are too broad, and this can contribute to a lack of transparency and diminished public reporting and accountability about the practices and culture of aged care services.
Aged Care Financing Authority
COTA Australia is concerned that, at the present time, the Government is not publicly committing to commissioning and publishing independent annual reports including information on the impact of funding decisions on the viability and sustainability of the aged care sector and the ability of care recipients to access quality aged care.
COTA Australia proposes that the Committee seek assurances from the Government about how independent reports will be prepared and delivered within the new governance arrangements.