Department of Health reveals only one in six aged care homes has had infection controls checked – is the regulator understaffed?

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The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is facing allegations it doesn’t have the staff it needs to monitor providers after data released showed 83% of homes have still not received an in-person visit to check on their infection control procedures.

The visits were announced last month, but according to The Australian, the data shows the regulator had only checked infection controls in 21% of Victorian aged care homes as of 11 September – despite 614 COVID deaths being recorded in aged care homes across the state.

In NSW, just 131 of 883 homes (14.8%) had received a visit while in Queensland, 81 of 472 homes (17%) had been checked.

Tasmania – the home of Aged Care Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck – received the most visits with 70% of facilities checked.

The newspaper reports another 200 homes have since been checked since 11 September.

Senator Colbeck has maintained every home has at least received a telephone assessment, but Opposition aged care spokesperson Julie Collins says the Commission is too slow to act and doesn’t have the powers and resources it needs.

It is worth noting that the border restrictions currently in place are likely to have impacted on the regulator’s work.

However, Commissioner Janet Anderson did concede at the Royal Commission’s recent home care hearings that her organisation has a high turnover of quality assessors and also employs a number of contractors.

“We know it as a characteristic of our workforce and we are now working harder than ever to ensure that our recruitment processes ensure that we have sufficient staff to do the job we have to do,” she said.

COTA CEO Ian Yates foreshadowed in yesterday’s issue of The SOURCE that the 6 October Budget would contain more measures to boost the regulator – could these numbers be the tipping point?