2021 – that’s a wrap!

It has certainly been a busy year for service providers and compliance professionals in our sector. Providers have been truly tested by the challenges of the pandemic and a changing regulatory landscape. We invite you to reflect with us on the key developments of this past year.

Child safety

In the child safety space, progress has been underway over the last couple of years to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We published a blog post on this topic in March of this year.

On 1 July 2021, the new Victorian Child Safe Standards were released, bringing these standards into alignment with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Our mapped self-assessment for the Victorian Child Safe Standards is available on SPP.

NSW followed in a similar vein and in November 2021, legislation passed in NSW Parliament mandating compliance with the NSW Child Safe Standards by certain ‘child safe organisations’. The NSW Child Safe Standards, which also map to the National Principles, can be accessed in SPP.

At present, Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd is finalising the Second Edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, and we expect to be providing assessment modules of these standards early in the New Year.

Aged care

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was the focal point for aged care this year, with some regulatory changes already implemented and others underway.

The Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) brought in new compliance requirements for residential aged care providers in April. Our Incident Management Procedures (Aged Care SIRS) Policy can help get you up to speed on this. In correlation with SIRS, the Aged Care Quality Standards were updated to include a requirement on incident management, and our ACQS self-assessments have been updated accordingly.

Rules around use of restrictive practices changed, with shift in terminology from ‘restraints’ to ‘restrictive practices’, bringing aged care into alignment with disability regulation. Our updated Use of Restrictive Practices (Aged Care) Policy reflects this.

This year we released an educative version of the Aged Care Quality Standards on SPP, based on the Commission’s Guidance and Resources for Providers document, and which walks providers through their requirements in greater depth. We have also released the Board Governance Toolkit, a comprehensive suite of resources designed specifically to support board members to fulfil their responsibilities under the Aged Care Quality Standards.

Disability

In late 2021, the NDIS Practice Standards saw their biggest overhaul since their inception. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission identified emergency and disaster management and mealtime management/swallowing problems as key focal areas for additional guidance and regulation, and brought in three new Practice Standards to reflect this. In addition, a number of Quality Indicators were added and amended, reflecting a focus on infection control, staff training, individualised risk assessments and insurance requirements. Our blog post will flesh this out for you.

All changes to the NDIS Practice Standards are available for completion in SPP, and you can choose from mapped or stand-alone modules, depending on your organisation’s needs.

Health care

The National Safety and Quality Healthcare Service Standards (Second edition) were updated in 2021, to include new requirements around infection control. We added two new modules to our NSQHS self-assessment on SPP to address the new Standard 3 – Preventing and Controlling Infections.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has also begun releasing a number of new standards, aiming to ensure a consistent approach to safe and high-quality health care across different service environments. In 2021, we added self-assessment modules for the National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards and the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards to SPP, and we will be closely tracking the development of the National Safety and Quality Mental Health Standards for Community Managed Organisations.

During 2021 we also released three new modules for the RACGP Standards for general practices (5th edition). We worked closely together with the RACGP to ensure that all of the standards, criteria and indicators in each module are reflected in detail in SPP’s self-assessments.

ISO

ISO standards are popular accreditations amongst our users, and this year we were pleased to add ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems to SPP. ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard that requires organisations to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The Australian federal government requires ISO 27001 certification for all providers of employment skills training and disability employment services, and a number of health and community service providers also choose to follow this standard.

All the best for the holiday period!

The past 12 months have definitely been jam-packed, and we expect 2022 will be just as busy.

We thank you all for your continued collaboration, and from everyone in the BNG team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

See you next year!

Need to get on top of your compliance work?

Access a broad selection of Standards in SPP.

Unannounced assessment contacts

What is an assessment contact?

An assessment contact is a regulatory activity conducted by the Aged Care Quality Commission to monitor the quality of care provided by an Aged Care service. It includes any contact between a regulatory official and a provider of aged care services that is not a site audit, review audit or a quality review. It can take the form of phone discussions, emails or a visit to the site.

The purpose of an assessment contact is for the Commission to gain a greater understanding of the provider’s performance against the Quality Standards, and identify which providers need additional assistance in meeting the standards.

There are two types of assessment contact; announced and unannounced. Even for announced assessments there is no minimum timeframe for notice that the Commission must give before undertaking the assessment.

Focus of unannounced assessment contacts

The focus of unannounced assessment contacts will be determined by the Commission’s consideration of:

  •  areas of risk identified for the service;
  • areas previously notified for improvement and subject to a timetable for improvement;
  • requirements of the Quality Standards that have high prevalence of non-compliance across the sector;
  • current sector-wide strategies of the Commission such as a focus on infection control; and
  • other relevant information provided to the Commission.

Focus for September Quarter 2019

For the period of 1 July 2019 to 1 September 2019, the Commission has announced that assessment contacts will focus on:

  • Standard 1 – Consumer dignity and choice; and/or
  • Standard 6 – Feedback and complaints.

How to be prepared for an assessment contact

The Commission has advised that its assessors will include the following questions in their interview with the person in charge of the service:

  1. Have there been any adverse findings by another regulatory agency or oversight body in the last 12 months? (e.g. Healthcare complaints commission or similar, Food safety authority, Workcover, etc).
  2. What trends do your complaints data show you?
  3. How many consumers are receiving pressure area care
  4. Have there been any medication incidents in the past 6 months where a consumer required hospitalisation or attention by a medical officer?
  5. How many consumers have had falls and required medical attention in the past 3 months?
  6. How many consumers at the service are currently receiving psychotropic medications? (To be captured as a rate or percent of total consumers at the service.)
  7. How many consumers are restrained in order to manage risks to themselves or others at the service? (To be captured as a rate or percent of total consumers at the service.)
  8. Can you tell me about incidents in the past 6 months where a consumer or staff member has required medical attention as a result of challenging behaviour from a consumer?

There are other factors to consider, depending on the type of services you provide.

Home service providers

The Commission’s assessors will include the following questions in their interview with the person in charge of the service:

  1. Have there been any adverse findings by another regulatory agency or oversight body in the last 12 months? (e.g. HealthCare Complaints Commission or similar, Food safety authority, WorkCover, etc).
  2. What trends do your complaints data show you?
  3. Has the service had unfilled shifts in the last month?
  4. Does the service have specific strategies to help staff to provide care to people living with dementia? If so, what are these?
  5. Does the service have a process to identify and respond to changes in the condition of consumers? If so, what are these?

Residential aged care

The key areas of risk for residential aged care providers may include:

  1. Risk areas identified in previous assessments
  2. The use of restraints
  3. A single Quality Standard, or a number of requirements of one or more of the Quality Standards
  4. Risk areas which were identified at the entry meeting.

For providers delivering multiple services, the Commission may wish to conduct multiple assessment contacts at the same time.

Notifying consumers

If the Commission has requested a site visit, there may be a requirement to notify consumers of the upcoming visit. The Commission has developed posters in a range of different languages that the provider can use to notify consumers, click here for more information.

Further reading

For a more detailed outline of assessment contacts and what they may entail, see the Commission’s website.

Managing high impact and high prevalence risks

The Aged Care Royal Commission identified in Volume 1 of the Interim Report, that during the last quarter of 2018-19, the second most common subject of complaints was falls prevention and management.

Minimising the number of falls and pressure injuries in care facilities is vital for client safety and quality of life. Aged care clients are particularly vulnerable to falls and pressure injuries, due to their reduced mobility. Hearing loss is also particularly common in aged care facilities. Leaving hearing loss unaddressed can have a negative impact on a client’s quality of life.

Aged Care service providers should have robust policies and procedures in place, which aim to prevent and reduce the rate of pressure injuries, falls and harm from hearing loss. They should also have procedures which delegate responsibilities and effectively manage incidents as they happen.

To help you address the risks posed by falls, pressure injuries and hearing loss, we’ve put together a collection of policies and info sheets which work towards best practice for preventing and addressing high impact and high prevalence injuries.

Pressure injuries

One of the most commonly occurring preventable conditions, pressure injuries affect 42% of people in RACFs. They can cause death, infection, cellulitis, reduced physical mobility and pain. Our pressure injuries policy includes procedures on:

  • Assessment
  • Prevention
  • Warning signs
  • Treatment

Falls-related injuries

These are one of the leading causes of mortality in older Australians. Considerations such as syncope, dizziness and vertigo, vision, footwear and environmental considerations should be taken into account when conducting a risk assessment and implementing falls management strategies. Our policy addresses:

  • Risk screening and assessment
  • Staff training
  • Management strategies
  • Responding to falls

Hearing loss

If uncorrected, hearing loss can lead to a reduced quality of life, and increase the risks of developing depression and dementia. 85% of Australians in RACFs experience some form of hearing loss. Providers should implement a comprehensive hearing loss policy to ensure that clients receive the highest quality of care. Our policy covers:

  • Assessment and Identification
  • Communication
  • Staff responsibilities
  • Staff training

These resources have been developed as a guideline for your organisation to implement robust policies which help to address high impact risks.

They are available in SPP’s Reading Room.