The Federal Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, has announced an independent review to find out why aged care quality regulators failed to identify the extent of mistreatment of residents at the South Australian Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service.

This comes as the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) faces growing pressure from consumer advocate groups who say the agency routinely fails to protect elderly Australians. Critics describe the process as a box-ticking exercise that’s too focused on compliance through paperwork rather than actual resident care outcomes.

So what is going wrong? Many experts believe the problems lie in the provisions of the Aged Care Act, and in particular, the allocation of staffing levels. The Act makes no reference to a mandated staff mix within facilities, stating only that “approved providers are required to maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure that the care needs of all care recipients are met.” This ambiguity has the unwanted side effect of inadequate staff ratios and reduced care standards.

Of course, most providers deliver high quality care services to their residents. When families see their loved ones treated poorly, their distress should deeply affect us all. Regardless of the outcomes of this review, public faith in the AAQCA’s ability has suffered a huge blow.

More than ever, we have an obligation to ensure the care we provide exceeds the AACQA standards. By acknowledging the current system only relates to a minimum standard of compliance, we’re free to implement our own higher standards that can withstand any formal scrutiny. Not only will you be providing better quality care, you’ll also be distancing yourself from the ongoing adverse publicity that surrounds the accreditation agency.

AHP specialises in helping your facility perform at its best. We provide a full range of pain management and allied health services, as well as on-call casual nursing coverage. For more information on our range of allied health and specialist services, please contact an AHP consultant.