Crack aged-care squad to boost checks
GOVERNMENT inspectors will swoop on almost 4000 aged-care homes this year, tripling the number of surprise inspections.
The Federal Government's new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) will start work today to boost the number of surprise spot checks to at least 3869 in 2019.
In Queensland, inspectors will check four times more homes in unannounced accreditation audits, with the number rising from 33 last year to at least 147 in 2019.
Every one of the state's 458 nursing homes will be subject to an unannounced visit. The new watchdog will also set up a "serious incident response team'' to protect nursing home residents from abuse, assaults and neglect.
The investigative crack squad will be given powers to probe assaults in aged-care homes.
Aged-care operators reported a record 3773 cases of physical and sexual assaults of nursing home residents to the federal Health Department in 2017-18 - one-third more than in the previous year. The figure includes only assaults by staff or visitors, as nursing homes are not required to report assaults by fellow nursing home residents suffering from a "cognitive impairment", including dementia.
Nursing homes do not have to tell the Health Department whether police were notified or what action was taken to protect the victim. But the Federal Government is considering widening the definition of assault to cover financial abuse, as well as unexplained serious injury and neglect.
The new definition - recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) - would also force nursing homes to report "seriously inappropriate, improper, inhumane or cruel treatment''.
For the first time, the new ACQSC watchdog will include a chief clinical adviser to oversee the quality of aged care nationally.
Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said $48 million would be spent on compliance checks, including the hiring of dozens of new inspectors.