In a few months’ time the accreditation systems and quality standards for aged care provided in nursing homes and at home will be replaced with the Single Quality Framework.
The eight draft standards that make up the Single Quality Framework have now been published. They are:
1. Consumer dignity and choice;
2. Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers;
3. Personal care and clinical care;
4. Services and supports for daily living;
5. Organisation’s service environment;
6. Feedback and complaints;
7. Human resources; and
8. Organisational governance.
The problem with the Single Quality Framework is that its wording never gets down to the nitty-gritty of what care is supposed to do.
For example, the key Standard 3. – personal care and clinical care – requires the care provider to demonstrate that “Clinical care is best practice”. However, it doesn’t define “best practice” or refer to specific medical standards.
Any personal care and clinical care standard should be based on a professional medical assessment of care recipients. Are they as healthy as they can be given their medical history?
The key word in Standard 3. is “demonstrate”. The care provider is required to demonstrate personal care and clinical care are adequate. Typically, a care provider will demonstrate this by keeping a record of the things they have done.
Adequacy of personal care and clinical care will be determined by inspectors from the Aged Care Quality Agency, who are not required to have medical qualifications.
They check the records, not the people.
This approach to determining the adequacy of a care provider’s performance differs not a lot from the current approach.
That’s why, for example, 50 per cent of nursing home residents across Australia can be malnourished. At the same time, more than 90 per cent of Australian nursing homes can pass accreditation audits, including the nutrition standard, with flying colours.
Despite all the fanfare surrounding the Single Quality Framework, don’t expect the quality of aged care to improve. Instead, hope that the new system will not be used by care providers to cut even more corners.