Focus on outcomes for aged care standards – not tick a box says HammondCare

Outcomes for residents should be the focus of accreditation standards for residential aged care, rather than compliance with prescriptive protocols, according to recent submissions by leading health and aged care provider, HammondCare.

The submissions show that any standards must encourage providers to consider the needs of each individual, rather than simply ticking a box for accreditation. The submissions were to the independent Carnell Review and the Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of the aged care quality assessment and accreditation framework, following on from the SA Health report on the Oakden Aged Mental Health Care Service.

Policy Manager for HammondCare, Tim Dixon said evidence shows that the best way to regulate aged care services is to have a small number of broad-based, outcomes focused standards to ensure reliability.

“If there are too many standards with too many specific protocols, neither nurses, care staff or inspectors can keep up with them all. When you have a small number of standards that aren’t too prescriptive, it works better for everyone,” Mr Dixon said.

“The regulatory researchers have looked into this carefully and they’ve found that is the best way to monitor care.”

The submission to the Carnell review also raised the issue that people with very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms related to a primary diagnosis of dementia should be supported separately to people diagnosed with mental health needs: ”There are significant differences in the care needs of older people with an ongoing mental illness and people with very severe and persistent challenging behaviours who have a primary diagnosis of dementia. Their disease trajectories and types of support required are not the same.”

The HammondCare submissions argue that the draft standards released in March go some way to addressing the shortcomings of current arrangements. They also highlight the need for non-regulatory processes for responding to incidents including strong risk management systems and online feedback sites that focus on communication and service improvement.

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