This presentation will describe how accreditation of aged care services is evolving alongside other tools such as outcome measures and consumer ratings as an instrument of better understanding the quality of care for older Australians. It will profile the challenges of quality assessment across diverse populations and a vast continent.
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (the Quality Agency) provides a framework for ensuring that all residential and home care services meet minimum standards of care. The accreditation system has set clear expectations for residential aged care and, over time, systems and practices improved and fewer and fewer residential aged care services failed to receive full accreditation or meet the Accreditation Standards.
The picture for aged care services is changing. An improvement in health means that older Australians are more likely to remain active for longer. People are choosing to stay in their own homes if the circumstances are right. This is reflected in the growth of home care services which are growing at 13% per annum (much higher than residential aged care). Performance against home care standards is variable, as services adjust to meet the challenges of a changing demographic and policy environment.
In the meantime, consumer expectations of quality in goods and services have grown. Consumers are now more empowered to determine for themselves what constitutes quality; and more adept at accessing and sharing information about the quality of services they receive.
Several changes are underway to improve aged care in Australia, to reduce regulation and to provide the individual with greater choice over their future. The Quality Agency has committed to work with the aged care sector to identify opportunities to improve the quality assessment and risk management system, and improve consumer participation in quality assurance processes. The question of quality is now live.