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Photo: Mick Tsikas. Source: AAP

Nurses react: aged care watchdog legislation, quality standards overhaul

Nurses have welcomed the new aged care quality standards that will take effect mid next year, following a function held in Parliament House to thank those involved in their development.

The Aged Care Quality Standards will replace the existing four sets of standards and cover all aged care services including residential care, home care, flexible care, and services delivered under the Commonwealth Home Support Program.

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) said nurses anticipate better outcomes for aged care residents once the new standards kick into gear.

“It is expected these changes will tighten regulation and make aged care providers more accountable for the care they deliver to residents who rely on these services,” said ACN chief executive, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward.

“Above any other health professional, nurses spend the most time with residents and their families. As such, the profession anticipates these reforms will further support nurses in the delivery of high-quality care for residents and consumers across all aged care settings.”

Ward added that quality and safety in aged care is tied very closely to appropriate staffing levels. “ACN has persistently advocated for registered nurses to be available and accessible on every shift in aged care facilities and we continue to believe this will be important if service providers are to meet these new standards.”

Aged & Community Services Australia chief executive Pat Sparrow said all residents and providers alike need the aged care system to function with “firm but fair regulation”.

“It is vital the community has confidence that the regulation protecting their loved ones enshrines safety and quality of life and also functions effectively, and quickly, to identify and respond to any instances of sub-standard care,” Sparrow said.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the boards and governing bodies of aged care providers will be “clearly accountable for every one of their consumers’ safety and quality of care”.

“Providers delivering clinical care will be mandated to maintain quality clinical frameworks including infection control, open disclosure to consumers, their families and representatives, and minimising the use of restraint,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said the new Aged Care Quality Standards cover:

  • Consumer dignity and choice
  • Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
  • Personal care and clinical care
  • Services and supports for daily living
  • Organisation’s service environment
  • Feedback and complaints
  • Human resources
  • Organisational governance.

Adherence to each standard will require a statement of outcome for the consumer, a statement of expectation for the organisation and requirements to demonstrate the standard has been met.

The standards will be enforced by the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, for which legislation passed this week to see it come into force on 1 January 2019.

Providers will be held to the new standards from 1 July next year.

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