Bupa backs better aged care monitoring

Bupa reiterates its call for a collaborative approach to improving services in aged care homes as outlined in its submission to a Senate Inquiry in August.

Bupa's submission to the Inquiry into the Effectiveness of the Aged Care Quality Assessment and accreditation framework by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee included 25 recommendations.

Backing a more robust reporting process to protect aged care residents from abuse was fundamental to the submission. 

This is not about weakening existing guidelines and requirements, but rather having additional processes that can empower providers to seek help before an incident occurs, or alternatively require providers to be more involved in the management of serious incidents.

We believe improvements could be made to the aged care quality regulatory processes through a focus on enhancing consistency and reducing subjectivity in the accreditation and monitoring process.

Redirecting accreditation and monitoring resources so there’s an increased scrutiny on providers at ‘high risk’ of non-compliance would focus on preventing incidents rather than on punishments after something has gone wrong.

Bupa would also like to see one, integrated organisation that is responsible for all aged care quality and complaints issues; shifting from a punitive approach to one that is based on collaboration; streamlining the complaints process; and improving injury prevention, monitoring, reporting mechanisms.

Currently, the Quality Agency acts as a regulator and does not play a significant role in assisting providers who may be experiencing, or are at risk of having quality issues, to improve.

We believe if an issue is identified, the Quality Agency could improve aged care quality if it were to play a role in enabling continuous quality improvement by working with the provider on strategies to improve outcomes.

Working collaboratively would be a shift away from the existing punitive approach to promoting enhanced aged care quality.

Therefore, we ask that consideration be given to the establishment of a new ‘amnesty’ arrangement, whereby providers can proactively contact the Quality Agency and work collaboratively on setting out and activating a plan to rectify issues the provider is experiencing.

A shift to this collaborative but structured type of approach could improve aged care quality and avoid situations where providers focus on simply passing accreditation, without embedding sustainable system and process improvements for the long term.

The current approach is quite punitive and so doesn’t encourage openness. It may instead lead some providers to avoid fully disclosing the full extent of an issue, which is not in the best interests of the people in their care.

Further, we believe regulatory activities and oversight should be more outcomes-focused (shifting away from the current output focus).

Bupa also believes that aged care quality could be improved if the Quality Agency and the Department provided industry with more information on what non-compliance themes are coming through at an industry level, along with key learnings, so that we can work together as a sector to continually improve.