Navigating aged care regulatory reforms in 2024

January 31, 2024 | Aged Care Management

By Katie Airey, Quality, Risk and Compliance Lead 

On 14 December 2023 the Exposure Draft Aged Care Bill 2023 was released for public consultation. The consultation will run until 16th February 2024, feedback is encouraged from all who have an interest in aged care.

Pending approval of the New Aged Care Act, the sector can expect a single go-live date of 1 July 2024, which includes commencement of: 

  • New Aged Care Act
  • New Regulatory Model
  • Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards 
  • Single Assessment System 
  • New Accommodation Framework and 
  • National Worker Screening

In addition to these changes, 2024 will introduce further changes with the Financial and Prudential Monitoring, Compliance & Intervention Framework (Phase 3), along with the increase in mandatory care minutes to 215 minutes, including 44 minutes from a registered nurse starting from 1 October 2024.

The new Act will be rights-based and it differs from the current Aged Care Act 1997, which is structured around approved providers and how they are funded. The new Act aims to be person-centred and relies on international conventions such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) will oversee the performance of aged care providers through risk-based monitoring. The Commission’s risk monitoring approach has commenced, with audits underway to ensure compliance to regulatory changes that are already in effect.  

Under the new Regulatory Model, risk-based monitoring will rely on data and regulatory insights to identify potential risks or issues with the aim to take a targeted approach in identifying risks related to poor care, prior to harm being caused to older people.

Where are we going?

The structure and constitutional foundation of the new Aged Care Act emphasises positive culture changes across the sector, with heightened focus on continuous improvement as well as preventing substandard care by clearly defining high quality care within the Act.

The Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards and reportable requirements will provide the framework and measure for compliance across the sector. Registered providers should already be working towards transitioning to the new Regulatory Model in preparation for the single go-live date. 

What actions should providers be taking?

The government, department and commission have all remained resolutely committed to the July 2024 timeline. Therefore with time running out before the new changes expected to come into effect, registered providers should be considering what resources, systems, data and risk management can be undertaken now, to avoid panic later.  

We all know excellence in governance starts with understanding your organisation. So below are some key questions to consider when undertaking reform transition activities. 

  1. With the focus shifting from provider to older people in the new legislation consider: 
  • How is your organisation engaging with older people? Is the engagement meaningful? What can the organisation do better?  
  1. There are significant changes that relate to ‘responsible persons’ of registered providers within the new Act.  
  • Do all your ‘responsible persons’ understand their obligations and responsibilities along with the penalties and fines proposed in the Exposure Draft Aged Care Bill 2023
  1. The new legislation enhances the powers of the regulator and there is significant focus on risk management and continuous improvement. 
  • Has your organisation conducted a self-assessment and reviewed the PCI to incorporate transition planning, identify and mitigate risks to older people? 
  1. As these reforms are changing the landscape of aged care, planning is key to compliance and a smooth transition.  
  • Does your organisation have a reforms strategy? Does the strategy involve older people? 
  1. Knowledge sharing among your workforce is necessary for optimal performance. 
  • Is your workforce across the regulatory changes? What education/training is planned prior to 1 July 2024 for everyone – from governing body to frontline workers? 
  1. Alignment of systems, policies and procedures is crucial to ensuring effective governance. 
  • Have you completed an audit to determine if you have the right systems in place to support the organisation now and into the future? Do the organisations policies and procedures align with new legislation?

How confident are you in your ability to paint a picture of risk that aligns with the expectations of both the elderly residents and the Commission? 

Now is the time to act.  Through our Aged Care Reform Transition Support, we have been helping providers ranging from single facilities to large-listed organisations to manage the complexities of the aged care reform agenda, demonstrating an understanding of the diverse operating models and structures across the spectrum. To ensure a smooth and successful transition, now is the time for providers to start taking action.

Want to learn more? Reach out to our team.