This blog canvases CPSA’s concerns about the quality of residential aged care, focusing on the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency (the Agency) and the Aged Care Complaints Scheme (the Scheme). These bodies, in theory, ensure that homes meet a minimum standard of care and that episodes of poor care are picked up and acted on by the Department of Health and Ageing. However, in practice, they often fail to uphold these minimum standards.
In CPSA’s experience, and much to the chagrin of thousands of care recipients and their families, the Agency and the Scheme have failed to promote and uphold quality care in many aged care facilities. Reports of poor care are regularly brought to the public’s attention, often in fully-accredited homes. The accreditation process is broadly acknowledged to be insufficient, partly because of the standards that it bases its audits on, and partly because it looks at processes and systems rather than actual care provided. Furthermore, homes are given up to three months’ notice of accreditation visits that look at all 44 care standards, giving them ample time to put their best foot forward for the inspectors.
Many complainants of substandard care express dissatisfaction and frustration at the Aged Care Complaints Scheme. Even in cases where a complaint has led to the Department finding fault with the facility, it is common to hear that shortly after the complaint being ‘resolved’, the home has reverted to poor care standards. In these cases, complainants are often too tired or disillusioned to go through the complaints process again and give up.
This blog highlights some of the reasons why the system is failing to protect people living in nursing homes from poor care. It uses case studies to show how complaints are processed and how matters raised by complaints come to be ignored. It also draws from cases of poor care and how such cases were not picked up by either the Agency or the Complaints Scheme.
CPSA does not believe that all homes provide poor care. CPSA also believes that the majority of nursing home staff are dedicated individuals and committed to ensuring that nursing home residents get the care they deserve. In CPSA’s experience, poor care often results from insufficient staffing, poor management and reliance on inadequately trained staff.