Quality in aged care not about eliminating adverse incidents

Quality in residential aged care must not be reduced to the elimination of risk or the absence of adverse incidents, according to leading health and aged care provider, HammondCare, in its submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities, released on March 5.

The submission says that risk aversion in age care impacts negatively on residents’ quality of life, and regulatory approaches and policies aimed at reducing adverse incidents often have unintended consequences: “They can lead to the establishment of risk averse, institutionalised homes that are safe but where people’s rights are undermined by prescriptive rules that prevent them from engaging fully in life.

“When blunt, top-down regulatory approaches are used to reduce the number of falls, more people are restrained. When they are used to prevent choking, more people are forced onto modified texture diets. When certain foods are labelled high-risk for vulnerable populations, older people living in residential aged care are unable to eat soft-boiled eggs or lettuce, while their community dwelling peers continue to do so. While safety and clinical excellence are paramount in residential aged care, they must not come at the cost of residents’ quality of life.”

General manager of Residential Care, HammondCare, Angela Raguz said aged care services should focus instead on understanding an individual resident’s needs and providing services that are tailored to them: “It is not about a one size fits all approach and ticking a box that ensures quality is delivered. It is about developing a regulatory framework that is not prescriptive and allows providers to focus on how best to improve quality of life for each individual resident,” Ms Raguz said.

HammondCare’s submission argues that every effort should be made to ensure any proposed changes do not add regulatory and administrative burden to regulators and aged care providers, without leading to significant improvements in quality of life for residents.

It also says non-regulatory mechanisms, like the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS), Severe Behaviours Response Teams (SBRT) and Dementia Training Australia (DTA) already exist and provide good on the ground support for residential aged care facilities to assist with challenges involved with behaviours management related to dementia.

HammondCare’s submission also supports a broad outcome focus for aged care quality standards.

Media Inquiries: For more information, please contact HammondCare: Jenny Stevenson jkstevenson@hammond.com.au M: 0402 214 039.

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