Submission to the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes

COTA Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide written comments to the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes (the Review) led by Ms Kate Carnell AO in conjunction with Professor Ron Paterson ONZM. COTA Australia has also met with the Review team to convey these views.

COTA Australia notes its appreciation to Ms Carnell and Professor Paterson for the time taken to meet with consumers in Melbourne and Brisbane as part of their consultation process. From all accounts participants felt this opportunity was valued, that they were listened to and they were provided an opportunity to say what they felt was not working in residential aged care from their unique perspectives.

COTA Australia is pleased that this inquiry has been undertaken. For some time, we have held concerns that a 97% accreditation pass rate1 may indicate that the accreditation system has lost some of its edge. We believe in general providers have become skilled at passing accreditation, which is to be expected, but that in a minority of facilities across Australia this does not flow onto normal practice outside the accreditation period.

In this submission, we submit that:

  • The aged care sector needs to increase the transparency of accreditation for residents and their family or friends, and much more effectively gather and incorporate their views about and experience of the facility in which they or their oved one lives
  • The culture of ‘complaints’ needs to shift from one of fear of retribution if I make a complaint’, to one where feedback and complaints are a ‘promoted, normal and welcome part of customer service’ in aged care.
  • The Government should prioritise the portability of bed licenses to permit consumers to change their residential aged care provider and to permit good providers to expand their services in response to positive consumer demand.
  • The Government should accept all aged care recommendations from the Elder Abuse- A National Legal Response Final Report3
  • Consideration of a national ‘official visitors scheme’
  • The introduction of an accreditation marketplace should be operationalised by July 2018

Broadly COTA believes that the quality of residential aged care over the past two decades has improved substantively due to both the Accreditation Scheme and other efforts. We note that of the 2,681 residential aged care facilities in Australia the non-compliance across the sector of quality is relatively low. Nevertheless, improvements can be made to ensure these outliers are identified sooner and performance managed in a superior manner than is currently achieved through the regulatory system. We remain concerned that there is insufficient competitive pressure in aged care at the moment to drive quality to higher levels that meet growing consumer and community expectations.