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An Important Reminder 

During the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in 2019-20,  5,718 allegations of assault were reported under the mandatory requirement of the Aged Care Act (1997). A study conducted by KPMG for the Department of Health estimated that, in the same year, a further 27,000 to 29,000 alleged assaults occurred that were exempt from mandatory reporting because they were resident-on-resident incidents. The Commissioners also heard cases of physical and sexual abuse that happened at the hands of staff members and of situations in which residential aged care providers did not protect residents from abuse by other residents. 

According to experimental estimates by the Office of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and Safety, around 39.2% of people living in residential aged care experience elder abuse in the form of neglect, emotional abuse or physical abuse.

Of these three types of elder abuse, the most prevalent was estimated to be neglect (experienced by 30.8% of people), followed by emotional abuse (22.6%) and physical abuse (5%). 

In addition, Commissioner Briggs also stated that at least 1 in 3 (or over 30%) people accessing residential aged care and home care services had experienced substandard care, including;

  • The incidence of assaults may be as high as 13–18% in residential aged care
  • There is a clear overuse of physical and chemical restraint in residential aged care

Because of these findings, SIRS (Serious Incident Response Scheme) commenced on the 1st of April 2021, and the National Quality Indicator Program was updated in July 2021. These regulations and legislation are in place to help ensure that older people live in safety without fear of being hurt or neglected. 

Older people are an essential part of the fabric that makes up our diverse society; it’s our business to acknowledge their value and importance and prevent Elder Abuse where we can. 

Types of abuse include (but are not limited to):

  • Psychological abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse

So how can we collectively ensure we are doing everything possible? 

  • Undertake a rigorous pre-admission and admission process with a multidisciplinary team 
  • Build a profile including the care and lifestyle requirements of each consumer and conduct regular file reviews  
  • Understand the potential high impact, high prevalence risks for each consumer and implement strategies to minimise risk
  • Implement a detailed and documented handover 
  • Have a feedback and complaints system that enables consumers to feel safe should they wish to raise concerns, challenges and conflicts 
  • Increase consumer literacy 
  • Have a Corporate Governance structure that includes an accountability matrix that supports safe and quality care 
  • Have a robust Clinical Governance Framework documented and implemented 
  • Ensure you have an effective incident management system 
  • Establish and sustain detailed policies and processes 
  • Continuously review your workforce demand 
  • Educate your workforce to improve best practice capability that informs safe and quality care 

If you are concerned about the level of reports being submitted to the SIRS, your quarterly NQIP, your team’s capabilities in understanding and responding appropriately to high impact, high prevalence risk or if your policies and processes have gaps and need updating, please reach out by emailing info@anchorexcellence.com

Anchor Excellence has been supporting aged care providers nationally for over 3 years. We have worked with over 40% of the sector. We understand the immense pressure first-hand. With a team of 20, we are Australia’s largest aged care consultancy. We are ready to support you and your team and ensure that older people can access and receive quality care and have a positive aged care experience.

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