Dept of Health and Aged Care reveals makeup of new residential care star ratings set for December

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Residential care operators will be rated on four key areas by the end of 2022 as the Government presses forward on its plan to provide greater transparency and accountability across the sector.

The previous Government pledged $200 million to publish star ratings for all residential aged care services on My Aged Care by the end of 2022 as one of its key Royal Commission reforms.

The Department is developing the ratings with a University of Queensland (UQ)-led consortium that includes the UQ Centre for Health Services Research (CHSR), the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

During a recent online seminar on the new Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) requirements, CHSR researcher Dr Emma Cooke announced that the first round of star ratings will include four sources of data and their weightings which will contribute to the overall five-star rating:

  • The five existing quality indicators (15%) – the facility’s information on pressure injuries, physical restraint, unplanned weight loss, falls and major injury and medication management
  • Service compliance (30%) – the audit and assessment data provided by the Aged Care Quality Safety Commission (ACQSC), which is used in the dot ratings on My Aged Care
  • Consumer experience (33%) – the consumer experience information on My Aged Care previously collected by the Commission, which is currently being refreshed through the new round of Consumer Experience Interviews that are seeing 20% of aged care residents interviewed about their experience of residential care
  • Staff minutes (22%) – the care minutes that will be reported through the QFR on a quarterly basis and used in the AN-ACC funding classifications

Each sub-category will receive its own rating, with one star representing below standard, three being the average and five representing outstanding.

Dr Cooke underlined that there is currently no minimum standard required.

“We understand that that’s not mandatory at this point in time, and so that is being considered and worked through as we refine the design of this and prior to Ministerial agreement,” she stated.

There is worry from operators that the star ratings will prove to be more of a ‘blunt instrument’ than a genuine representation of aged care quality, particularly in terms of the staffing component.

Under the AN-ACC direct care minute requirements, only Registered Nurse and personal carer time is counted – excluding time spent with Enrolled Nurses, lifestyle, and allied health staff.

This could create a perverse incentive for operators to shift resources to these two roles to improve their rating.

Dr Cooke also acknowledged concern about the need for frequent refreshing of the data.

“We are working on a provider interface that will allow you preview access to your ratings before they go live so that you can see them, you can know what they are, you can prepare for those and you can notify us if you have any concerns about the IT that’s in place or the algorithms,” she stated.

Watch this space then.

You can view the 90-minute webinar here.