Quality Indicators in Residential Aged Care – Resource for GPs
AMA members are advised that from July 1 this year the new Aged Care Quality Standards come into effect. On the same day the reporting under the National Quality Indicators in Residential Aged Care Program will become mandatory for all residential aged care facilities (RACFs) receiving Commonwealth subsidies.
The National Quality Indicator Program was introduced by the Government as a voluntary program for residential aged care providers in 2016. Under its provisions RACFs were expected to report to the Department of Health on three clinical indicators: pressure injuries, use of physical restraints and unplanned weight loss.
Since its introduction in January 2016, the program has had relatively low uptake, with about 10 per cent of RACFs collecting the three clinical measures, in spite of evidence overseas and in Australia demonstrating significant quality improvements achieved with the implementation of Quality Indicator programs.
With mandatory reporting in place from July 1, every three months RACFs will be required to collect and submit their quality indicator data to the Department of Health, which processes the data and generates a report about the indicators. The data is then consolidated and published on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s website. That way consumers, their families and carers can use this information to make decisions about their care, and to choose the right service provider for their needs.
In order to prepare the sector for the mandatory reporting, the Department of Health has developed a number of resources and fact sheets. They include an Information Sheet for General Practitioners. The program recognises the critical role of GPs in clinical care and their vital contribution to examining practice to understand changes in the quality indicator rates. The factsheet advises GPs to ask RACFs for quality indicator reports, be involved in interpreting the information and to be thorough and accurate when competing documentation about clinical care provided.