What is Aged Care Accreditation?
The aged care accreditation standards 2019 apply to residential aged care, including short-term restorative care services, and the delivery of home care packages. It also includes the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program.
Accreditation is an evaluative process. It assesses the quality of care and services that an organisation provides against a set of legislated standards (see more below). It’s part of the government’s safety and quality framework to protect Consumers. Accreditation programs are also geared to promote continuous quality improvement strategies.
A great deal rides on accreditation compliance, as aged care services must be accredited to be eligible to receive Australian Government subsidies.
Aged Care Accreditation Standards and Outcomes
Since 1 July 2019, a new single set of standards, called the Aged Care Quality Standards, replaced the following:
- Accreditation Standards for Residential Aged Care (formerly 44 expected outcomes)
- Home Care Standards
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework Standards
- Transition Care Standards
There are now 8 new standards that apply across all aged care areas. This is meant to make regulation easier and possibly more streamlined as Consumers transit through different parts of the aged care system e.g. from home care to residential aged care.
The new aged care standards have much greater emphasis on meeting the needs of Consumers. They’re geared to helping services better identify quality and safety as experienced by the Consumer. In this way the new standards are very much focused on quality outcomes for Consumers e.g. better consultation and collaboration, involvement in decision-making, ensuring better clinical outcomes.
Read an overview of the standards via this link Overview of Quality Standards
What Does Accreditation Involve?
An accreditation audit takes 2-3 days (or possibly longer, depending on the size of your service). It’s conducted by an external accrediting body (currently the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission or the “Commission”). Services are also monitored in between the formal accreditation visits by the Commission. Frequency of monitoring contacts is commensurate with information that the Commission gathers about a service and any perceived risk to Consumers. Accreditation generally involves:
- A self-assessment
- A review or assessment of your performance against predetermined standards by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
- Ongoing monitoring of performance against the standards by the accreditation body
There are many resources to assist you in your accreditation preparation, and the aged care quality resources are being updated regularly.
When do Accreditation Audits Take Place?
Under the Aged Care Act (1997) Approved Providers must undergo an accreditation audit at least every three years to maintain government funding.
Accreditation audits are now unannounced, meaning services need to be much better prepared. The idea is that an unannounced accreditation audit will more accurately capture everyday performance.
Where a service provides residential as well as home care, the accreditation audit may cover both areas at the same time.
Aged Care Quality and Safety Rules
The Quality Commission has increased powers under new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules from 1 January 2020. Bottom line, the regulator has more powers to act to protect Consumers. More information is being progressively added to the Commission’s website.
What is a Risk Assessment and Why Do I Need it?
A risk assessment is a report that helps you to understand your main areas of risk as they relate to accreditation compliance. We also look at broader aspects of operations that may underly why the risk exists. We know the hot spots that attract unwanted attention from the Commission. A key area that we review is your clinical governance.
Regulatory rules are changing all the time as the new Commission comes into action. Adverse Consumer outcomes highlighted in the Royal Commission is placing the regulator under more pressure to act. It is important that you do our own check of the integrity of your service. This is an integral part of your risk management program. Monitoring will also be assessed under the new accreditation standard 8, organisational governance, as well as the Board’s broader corporate governance responsibilities.
Click here to find out more about unannounced re-accreditation audits.
What is the AgeWorks General Process for a Risk Assessment and How Does it Help?
Our first step is to consult with you to identify your main concerns around risk. We have a standard process that will involve your key team members doing their own self-assessment. This provides us with further information before we progress to an onsite visit. We can tailor our approach pending your input, our initial findings and your budget.
Click here to contact us for your FREE Health Check Self-Audit Tool to begin your foundational compliance and risk assessment.
What Happens if my Organisation Fails to Meet Accreditation Standards?
Regulatory action will depend on the nature of non-compliance or the assessed degree of risk to Consumers. The Quality Commission has increased powers under new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules from 1 January 2020 (see above). There are obligations to comply with accreditation standards as soon as possible or risk costly non-compliance, frequent monitoring, performance reviews, expensive sanctions or ultimately losing accreditation and approved provider status.
The Main Accreditation Related Problems AgeWorks Helps You Control
Managing risk is a part of everyday business, however there are times when risk of harm intensifies and failure to be proactive may threaten the well-being of people and integrity of operations. This is when our risk assessment can be vital. We have helped many clients avoid non-compliance or sanctions during these times, which may be, for example:
- A new manager
- A frequent change of manager or care manager
- Changes in management systems
- A loss or change in key personnel
- Rapid increase in Consumer numbers
- Significant change in Consumer mix or more complex Consumer mix
- Building programs or relocation
- Changes in processes and procedures not supported by training
- Change of provider such as a sale, merger or an amalgamation
What to do if Your Organisation, CEO or Board has an Issue with Accreditation
If there’s been an interruption to operations or plans to change your business such as noted above, then it’s vital you get an independent check. Don’t wait for external complaints to the Quality Commission to trigger a monitoring visit or non-compliance to be called.
Accreditation has both compliance and quality elements. These elements are supposed to work in a complementary way to promote quality and safety, however, compliance action will always trump quality when it comes to consumer safety. The Commission looks at your organisation through a very different lens if they believe there’s risk to Consumers. Their monitoring is much tougher and frequency of visits much more intense.
Support AgeWorks Provides to Rectify Aged Care Accreditation Issues
Our risk assessment report will help you to prioritise what’s most important e.g. via a colour coded traffic light system. We can help you to develop a prioritised action plan.
Our independent report supports your risk management program as part of standard 8, Organisational Governance. Our plan can help you to pinpoint clinical risk and update your Risk Management Plan.
While accreditation compliance is an important risk that must be managed, there are other business risks (as noted above) that we can help you to identify. Often its other operational problems that occur first that bring attention to a service, triggering a visit by the Commission.
The Biggest Mistake CEOs and Managers Make with Accreditation
Our experience over 20 years shows many services are lulled into a false sense of security when they have their accreditation certificate. Compliance in all 8 standards does not necessarily mean there is no further risk of non-compliance, that the service can “ease off” until the next accreditation visit. While the Commission is now assessing Consumers’ experience, an accreditation tick does not guarantee quality or that Consumers are truly happy with your service.
Importantly, an accreditation tick does not mean that your risk is being managed. It’s a snapshot of your service at given point in time. We’ve found that things can change very quickly. And they do.
Why Choose AgeWorks for Consulting Support?
We have developed our technical expertise over many years. We can spot risk quickly and help you develop a deeper understanding of why some areas must be prioritised over others. We can help you understand the detail as well as see the bigger picture.
AgeWorks understands that developing a culture of accountability is key if risk is to be managed over the longer term. We’re able to help individuals and teams get greater clarity on their role, and what’s required to optimise a healthy and safe environment for all.
For more related information, check out aged care standards and non-compliance
Call AgeWorks today for a confidential chat about aged care accreditation standards risk assessment.