AACQA data reveals big rise in aged care complaints and serious risk decisions

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The figures, requested by Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), show referrals from the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner to the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) hit 471 between July and December 2017, up from a total of 363 during the entire 2016/17 reporting period.

Overall, 3,205 referrals were received from the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, Department of Health and other sources between July and December 2017, compared to 2,996 between July 2016 to June 2017.

2% of aged care providers have also been assessed by AACQA as not meeting at least one of the 44 expected outcomes in the first half of 2017-18, up from 1% in 2016-17.

The top five outcomes assessed as not met between July and December 2017 were:

  • Human resource management;
  • Clinical care;
  • Medication management;
  • Behavioural management; and
  • Living environment.

ACSA expects these to double this FY, with Privacy and Dignity also ranking highly as not being met.

The data also found the rate of serious risk decisions is on the rise, with 27 made by the AACQA against aged care facilities in the first half of 2017-18 compared to 22 in 2016-17.

Home care services have fared slightly better. 1.1% of services were shown to not meet at least one expected outcome in 2017-18, compared to 1.3% in 2016-17 with regulatory compliance; service user reassessment, information management and information provision the big sticking points.

ACSA also reports that the AACQA is currently asking providers a range of questions at unannounced visits to gauge the provider’s risk management. These include:

  • Has there been any adverse findings by another regulatory agency or oversight body in the last 12 months? (e.g. Healthcare Complaints Commission or similar, Food safety authority, Workcover, etc.).
  • How many care recipients are receiving pressure area care?
  • Have there been any medication incidents in the past six months where a care recipient required hospitalisation or attention by a medical officer?
  • How many care recipients have had falls and required medical attention in the past three months?
  • How many care recipients are subject to physical restraint and/or chemical restraint?

A clear sign that the negative media coverage is having an impact on the way the Government deals with aged care compliance – and providers will need to stay on their toes.