When it comes time to choose an aged care home for either yourself or a loved one, it can be hard to know where to start. There are countless decisions to make, and it can often be difficult to judge the quality of the homes you are looking at.

To help lift the quality of aged care in Australia, and make it easier for older Australians to get the information they need to choose the right aged care home provider, the Australian Government has developed eight Aged Care Quality Standards.

In this article we provide an overview of the 8 standards of aged care, including what they are, how they’re measured and, most importantly, where to find an aged care home’s performance against the standards in aged care.

What are the Aged Care Quality Standards designed to do?

To ensure that all older Australians receive the best care possible, the Australian Government has established a series of Aged Care Quality Standards. There are eight total standards that are intended to define what good quality aged care should look like.

The standards apply to all government-funded aged care providers, with each provider’s performance assessed and monitored against the standards by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The idea behind the standards in aged care is to lift the quality of aged care homes, and make it easier to compare the performance of different aged care providers.

8 standards of aged care – what are they?

Aged Care Quality Standards

A summary of the Aged Care Quality Standards. Image from www.rslcaresa.com.au

Below we share the 8 standards of aged care, as they appear on the Australian Government’s website. We have included the name of each standard, and what the standard means in practice for you or your loved one.

Within each of these standards, there are a number of more specific requirements that the Government uses to assess whether an aged care provider is meeting the standard. You can find this detailed information by searching for particular providers on the Australian Government’s website.

1. Consumer dignity and choice

What this means for you: I am treated with dignity and respect, and can maintain my identity. I can make informed choices about my care and services, and live the life I choose.

2. Ongoing assessment and planning

What this means for you: I am a partner in ongoing assessment and planning that helps me get the care and services I need for my health and well-being.

3. Personal care and clinical care

What this means for you: I get personal care, clinical care, or both personal care and clinical care, that is safe and right for me.

4. Services and support for daily living

What this means for you: I get the services and supports for daily living that are important for my health and well-being and that enable me to do the things I want to do.

5. Organisation’s service environment

What this means for you: I feel I belong and I am safe and comfortable in the organisation’s service environment.

6. Feedback and complaints

What this means for you: I feel safe and am encouraged and supported to give feedback and make complaints. I am engaged in processes to address my feedback and complaints, and appropriate action is taken.

7. Human resources

What this means for you: I get quality care and services when I need them from people who are knowledgeable, capable and caring.

8. Organisational governance

What this means for you: I am confident the organisation is well run. I am a partner in improving the delivery of care and services.

How is performance assessed against the 8 standards of aged care?

Each government-funded aged care home has its performance against the 8 standards of aged care assessed by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, as part of the accreditation process. The Commission is the national regulator of aged care services in Australia and is responsible for protecting and improving the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of people receiving aged care services.

In Australia, residential aged care facilities must be accredited in order to receive government subsidies. The accreditation process involves the following steps:

  • The provider self-assesses their service against the Quality Standards.
  • They apply for accreditation (or reaccreditation).
  • The Commission assesses the provider and writes a performance report.
  • The Commission approves the accreditation and issues a certificate to the provider.
  • The Commission publishes the performance report and accreditation decision on the Aged Care Quality website.

The Commission assesses whether aged care homes are meeting the Aged Care Quality Standards by visiting providers and collecting evidence. This includes measures such as:

  • reviewing procedure documents
  • observing practices at the service
  • looking at resident records and other documents
  • checking incident reports, care plans and complaints registers.

During the assessment phase, representatives from the Commission will also speak with people receiving aged care or their representatives, to hear their perspectives on how well the provider is performing against the Standards.

What do Aged Care Quality Standards ratings mean?

Performance against each aged care standard is rated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety using four bars, where:

  • Four bars means that all requirements within a Standard are met
  • Three bars means that most requirements within a Standard are met
  • Two bars means that some requirements within a Standard are met
  • One bar means that few requirements within a Standard are met.

All providers who receive a rating of less than four bars on a particular Standard are then given compliance actions they must take to increase their rating.

Importantly, a rating of no stars means that the provider has not yet been assessed, not that they don’t meet any of the requirements.

Where can I find an aged care home’s performance against the 8 standards of aged care?

One of the benefits of the aged care standards is that they’ve made it easier to compare the performance of different aged care homes in your area.

The easiest way to find an aged care home’s performance against the 8 standards of aged care is to use the Australian Government’s Find a Provider page. For every government-funded aged care home in Australia, this is where you can:

  • view their performance against each Standard
  • see a list of the requirements considered for each Standard
  • download or print the results in a Summary Assessment Report
  • compare the bars across different aged care services.

To see aged care homes in your area, all you need to do is type in your location and then select the ‘Aged Care Homes’ option. You can then select the relevant aged care home from the list, and you’ll be taken to another Australian Government webpage that includes all the information you need about that provider. If you select the ‘compliance’ tab, you can see how the aged care home scores against each of the 8 standards of aged care. This page gives both the overall bar rating for each standard, as well as detailed information about the number of requirements within that standard that the provider has met.

If you’re interested in comparing the performance of multiple aged care homes against the standards, you can use the Australian Government’s ‘compare’ feature. All you have to do is add the aged care homes you’re interested in to the list to compare, and the website will show you their performance against each standard side by side.

Not all aged care home providers will display this information on their company websites, so it’s important to always use the official Australian Government website to find this information.

How can I tell if an aged care home isn’t meeting the Aged Care Quality Standards?

If the Aged Care Quality Commission finds that an aged care home is not compliant with the Aged Care Quality Standards, it will publish this information on the My Aged Care website. You can easily find this information by searching for a provider using the Find a Provider page, and looking at the Compliance tab on the provider’s webpage. Here, the Australian Government will list any current compliance issues, including which of the 8 standards of aged care they relate to, as well as any previous compliance issues.

How are the Aged Care Quality Standards different to the Star Ratings for aged care homes?

In addition to the 8 standards of aged care, you might have seen aged care homes given a Star Rating, from one to five.

Like the Aged Care Quality Standards, Star Ratings are another way the Australian Government assesses the quality of aged care homes and communicates this to the public. A residential aged care home’s star rating is determined by how well it scores in four sub-categories:

  • Compliance
  • Residents’ Experience
  • Staffing
  • Quality Measures

The Compliance rating is partly based on how well the aged care home scores against the standards in aged care. So in that way, the score on the 8 standards of aged care, feeds into the overall star rating an aged care home receives.

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