Unannounced Visits to Nursing Homes and Hostels
The Australian Government released a report card on the unannounced visits conducted by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency for the last six months.
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22 December 2008
The Australian Government today released a report card on the unannounced visits conducted by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency for the last six months.
The Government is undertaking a record 7,000 visits – including 3,000 unannounced visits -- by the Accreditation Agency to ensure proper care, including nutrition and hydration.
These protections complement the extension of police checks to all nursing home staff - that comes into effect on January 1, 2009.
So far, the Accreditation Agency has conducted a record 1,796 unannounced visits for the period – July 1, 2008 to December 15, 2008.
In addition, the Department of Health and Ageing has conducted 742 unannounced visits for the same period.
Last financial year, the Accreditation Agency found 199 nursing homes or hostels which did not comply with at least one of the 44 standards quality outcomes.
There are currently 15 nursing homes – out of a total of nearly 3,000 aged care homes around Australia under sanction. Nine of those nursing homes were identified through direct or indirect result of unannounced visits.
Over the next four years, funding for aged and community care will reach record levels of more than $41.6 billion -- with $29.5 billion of that on residential aged care alone.
This means that over the next four years, the Government will be providing an average of $43,000 for every aged care home resident in Australia.
This year the Government will spend $5.6 billion on residential aged care. This represents an increase of 10.8 per cent over the final outcome for the 2007-08 financial year.
“The care and welfare of residents is our primary concern – they come first,” the Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot said.
"There are nearly 3000 nursing homes in Australia and the vast majority are doing an excellent job providing quality care for older Australians, but when action is required this Government will move swiftly.
"Nursing home operators have a legal obligation to provide proper care for nursing home residents.
“Unannounced visits are commonplace in Australia across a range of sectors. They are even more important in aged care where frail elderly residents are cared for 24 hours a day and are often unable to speak out if they have concerns about their care.
“Unannounced visits give an accurate picture of a facility’s day-to-day operation.”
The Accreditation Agency undertakes different types of visits for different purposes.
For example, a support contact can assess a home’s performance against a subset or all of the accreditation standards and will generally also provide information or education to the home to improve care.
A site audit assesses the home against all 44 expected outcomes, and takes into account the views of staff, residents and relatives. Site audits are scheduled when the provider applies for a period of accreditation.
A review audit is undertaken when there are concerns about a home’s compliance with the Accreditation Standards. A review audit generally takes two to four days and the home is assessed against all 44 expected outcomes, Support contacts and review audits can be either announced or unannounced.
In the case of a nursing home where “serious risk” has been identified, the Accreditation Agency visits daily until the “serious risk” has been removed.
The Department of Health and Ageing will also send Commonwealth Nursing Officers to monitor the quality of care being given to residents.
The Accreditation Agency has a set of “at risk factors” to identify nursing homes for further unannounced visits. They include:
- Existing non-compliance problems in any of the areas of the 44 standards including nutrition and hydration;
- Number of complaints against a facility;
- Known financial difficulties or business restructuring;
- A change of approved provider;
- Major changes in key personnel and senior staff;
- Ambitious building programs; and
- Sudden change in resident population and mix of residents.
“I will continue to work in partnership with older Australians, aged care providers, unions and consumer groups to improve the quality in residential aged care and ensure the long-term viability of the sector.
“Staff working in our nation’s nursing homes are dedicated, hard working and the backbone of the sector. They are on the front-line providing quality care; these visits support their important work.
“For the past 12 years, the previous government neglected nursing homes and neglected our older Australians; we plan to change that,” Mrs Elliot said.
Anyone with concerns about the care or welfare of residents should immediately contact the Department of Health and Ageing’s Complaints Investigation Scheme – 1 800-550- 552.
For more information, contact Mrs Elliot's office on (02) 6277 7280
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