24 August 2020

Aged Care

The Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety has today commented that new research by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) shows Australia could immediately establish independent, transparent, routine monitoring and public reporting of many aspects of aged care quality outcomes similar to leading countries like Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA. 

The Commission notes that the Commonwealth government currently has no care quality outcome reporting for home care and reports on only three indicators for residential care. The SAHMRI research - Research Paper 8: International and National Quality and Safety Indicators for Aged Care - shows a large range of quality outcome indicators can be produced from existing data without any burden to aged care providers, including indicators for

  •  medication-related quality of care, 
  • falls and fractures, 
  • hospital re-admissions, 
  • hospitalisation for dementia/delirium, 
  • pain, premature mortality, 
  • pressure injury, 
  • utilisation of care plans and medication reviews, and 
  • weight loss/malnutrition. 

 The Royal Commissioners state that independent measurement and public reporting is essential for the good operation of the aged care system - 

 Unbiased measurement and reporting of performance is vital to create accountability and continuous improvement in the aged care sector. Without it, problems are hidden from sight and not addressed. 

It is unacceptable that in 2020 the aged care system is still without this. Had the Australian Government acted upon previous reviews of aged care, the persistent problems in aged care would have been known much earlier and the suffering of many people could have been avoided.

The Productivity Commission’s 2011 Caring for Older Australians report recommended that aged care quality indicators be established and published at the service provider level to enhance transparency and accountability. 

That recommendation was reiterated  in the 2017 Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes

SAMHRI considered arrangements in Australia,New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. It recommends an independent body overseeing quality monitoring and reporting in Australia, including data custodianship and establishing evidence based targets. Real-time data collection should be standard with routine public reporting.