Regulatory Update – Strengthened Quality Standards

July 10, 2023 | Quality

Update - Key concepts for Strengthened Quality Standards

By Katie Airey, Quality, Risk and Compliance Lead 

On 30 May 2023, the Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) released an updated version of the Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards – Pilot Program. The changes made reflect input from participants of the public consultation process which took place 17–25November 2022. In addition, a Consultation Summary Report was also released, outlining the details on the feedback received and the Department’s response to feedback received.

Overall, public feedback on the drafted Quality Standards was positive, with some insightful and constructive ideas put forward to improve clarity and ensure associated actions are practical and achievable for providers while also improving outcomes for older people.

In addition to the release of the updated Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards – Pilot Program, on 20June 2023, the DoHAC held a webinar on the Stronger Standards, Better Aged Care program which provided guidance on how the program will support providers to rollout the strengthened standards.

During the webinar, providers were advised that the time to start transitioning is now. Bearing in mind that the Strengthened Quality Standards will not be finalised until the relevant legislation has passed Parliament.

Expected Program Timeline

Source: Stronger Standards, Better Aged Care webinar

Where are we now?

  • Currently, we are in the early stages of the process having commenced the design & test phase of audit methodology for the Strengthened Quality Standards. This encompasses the Strengthened Quality Standards Pilot, which commenced in April 2023 and is due to conclude August 2023. 
  • Public consultation has also finished on the new model for regulating aged care on 23 June 2023.

Next Steps

The DoHAC have an ambitious timeline, with the proposed single Go Live date planned for 1 July 2024. Therefore, it is important that providers continue to stay up to date with changes as they become available to the sector.

In order to help providers clearly understand the Strengthened Quality Standards framework, the DoHAC have published a framework analysis which details how the Strengthened Quality Standards compare to the current Quality Standards. With the introduction of 22 new concepts and enhanced expectations across Standards 2,3,5 and 6.

Summary of Key Concepts

Standard 2: The Organisation

  • New/enhanced requirements on the governing body:
    • for strategic and business planning and
    • to address, through strategies and business planning, access issues for First Nations people and older people living with dementia.
  • New/enhanced requirement which ensures investments in priority areas deliver improved outcomes for older people.
  • New/enhanced requirement to regularly report on quality system and performance to older people, families, and carers.
  • New/enhanced requirement regarding supporting and maintaining a satisfied and psychologically safe workforce.
  • New/enhanced requirement for emergency and disaster management planning to include engagement with older people, families, carers, and workers.
  • New/enhanced requirement for regular testing and review of emergency and disaster management plans.

Standard 3: The Care and Services

  • New/enhanced requirement to have a system to identify and review the skills and strengths of people living with dementia and encouraging their use on a day-to-day basis.
  • New/enhanced requirements to:
    • identify and match older people to their care and services and
    • provide monthly care statements.

Standard 5: Clinical Care

  • Clinical care is articulated as a Standard.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to implement processes to ensure clinical care is trauma aware, healing informed.
  • New/enhanced requirement for the provider and health professionals to agree on their respective roles, responsibilities and protocols for providing clinical care – which is not included within the scope of the current requirements under Standard 8.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to work towards implementing a digital clinical information system.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to ensure relevant health professionals review, plan and make changes to medicines for the older person when they are acutely unwell.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to have processes to ensure medication reviews are conducted and includes actions to specify when these must occur.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to report adverse medicine and vaccine events to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to regularly review and improve the effectiveness of the system for the safe and quality use of medicines.
  • New/enhanced requirement to maintain oral health and prevent decline including through assessing, monitoring, reviewing and responding to oral health needs, and assistance with daily oral hygiene needs.

Standard 6: Food and Nutrition

  • Food and nutrition is articulated as a Standard.
  • Introduces a new action to partner with older people on how to create enjoyable food, drinks, and dining experience at the service.
  • Introduces a new action to monitor and continuously improve the food service and specifies what this should include.
  • New/enhanced requirements regarding development and review of menus, in partnership with older people and relevant health professionals.
  • New/enhanced requirement for older people to exercise choice about what, when, where and how they eat and drink.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to offer and enable access to nutritious snacks and drinks (including water), at all times.
  • New/enhanced requirement for providers to ensure there are opportunities for older people to share food and drinks with their visitors.

Providers can use this list as the basis for transitioning their current framework to the new model. The Mirus Quality team can support your organisation throughout the transition – contact us to find out how.