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Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission: Bill needs strengthening and lacks reference to the rights of older Australians  

The Australian Greens have provided additional comments to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bill 2018 inquiry report  which has tabled this morning.

“While the Greens are broadly supportive of this bill we believe there are a series of amendments required to ensure that we are doing the best to ensure safety and quality of care for older Australians, Greens spokesperson on ageing Senator Rachel Siewert said.

“I have concerns in regards to the Chief Clinical Advisor’s role and the undefined scope of this position. The role is not set out in the Bill and is therefore not a statutory office. To ensure certainty the role must be explicitly included in the Commission Bill.

“The Chief Clinical Advisor’s role must also be given responsibility for oversight and monitoring of physical and chemical restraints and medication management. Both of these areas came up repeatedly during the hearing of the inquiry.

“In relation to restrictive practices, the Carnell Paterson review recommended the Commission have oversight of the use of restrictive practices in residential aged care. While the Carnell Paterson review also recommended the Chief Clinical Advisor have responsibility for approving the use of antipsychotic medications, I would be satisfied with the Chief Clinical Adviser having oversight and monitoring responsibilities for restrictive practices and medication management in the first instance.

“This is incredibly important; we need to ensure that there is someone responsible for ensuring that restrictive practices are used only as a last resort and in the least restrictive way. Ultimately we want to see the elimination of their use. Medication management is also desperately in need of oversight, as we saw on Four Corners.

“The Commission is referred to as ‘a single point of contact’ for older Australians and their families with regards to concerns and queries about their aged care. Unfortunately, the Commission will not actually be a ‘single point of contact’ as the Commission will be unable to receive complaints about My Aged Care or the assessment processes. This seems counterintuitive and it was the view of peak bodies that these should be included in the role of the Commission.

“The Government should not be separating the processes of assessment and determination of eligibility from the service delivery.

“At the inquiry we heard that advocates and some legal services have been turned away from residential aged care.  We have to ensure that advocates and other representatives are able to enter aged care services and Commonwealth-funded aged care services.

“This Bill should include a definition of “representative of aged care consumer” in the Bill that aligns with the definition in the Quality of Care Amendment (Single Quality Framework) Principles 2018 and provide the Commissioner the power to determine additional classes of “authorised officers” who may enter aged care services and Commonwealth-funded aged care services with consent.

“There is a distinct lack of reference to the human rights of older Australians, how can we go forward, after what we have seen in the sector following the Four Corners investigations and not have the rights and safety of older Australians at the forefront when we are creating a quality and safeguards commission.

“Stakeholders raised the lack of reference to quality improvement. I would like to see a quality improvement framework adopted – in some form – to ensure that near-misses are being reported and that work is being done to continuously improve care for older Australians.

“The Australian Greens are concerned that the education functions of the Commissioner, as set out in section 20, refer to providers, but not the workforce of these providers – education and training of the workforce is a key issues that we need to address.

“The Senate would not be doing its job if we just wave this through. This Bill requires some amendments to ensure that we are doing the best for older Australians.”

The Australian Greens additional comments can be found here

Media Contact:

Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180

 

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