Explaining the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
01 February 2019
In September 2018, the Australian Government announced a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, in response to a number of highly-publicised cases of negligence and abuse at a selection of aged care facilities across Australia, and growing public concern about the aged care system.
While a number of high-profile Royal Commissions have been held in Australia in recent years, each one is different. We hope this overview will help you to understand how this particular commission will work, and will give you some insight into St Vincent’s Care Services’ involvement.
What is a Royal Commission?
A Royal Commission is the most powerful type of inquiry a government can establish and is usually used to examine matters of serious public importance. A Royal Commission is independent and has the power to compel the production of documents and summon witnesses. The aged care Royal Commission opened in January 2019 and will run for approximately 18 months, with a final report and recommendations due by April 2020.
What will the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety do?
The Commission will look into a wide range of issues across the aged care sector, guided by a broad framework of terms of reference. While existing or historical examples of substandard care in the sector will feature significantly, it’s important to note the terms of reference focus the Commission toward the future and ensuring aged care services are of a high quality. You can read the full terms of reference on the Royal Commission website.
The Commission will review documents and case studies, and hear testimony from aged care providers, residents, family members and other stakeholders.
How is St Vincent’s Care Services involved?
In late November 2018, all Australian aged care providers received an invitation to submit information on their services as part of a Service Provider Survey. This included reporting incidences of substandard care and complaints, but also focused on gaining providers’ views on how to make improvements to aged care services, examples of best practice models and suggestions for recommendations the Royal Commission could make.
St Vincent’s Care Services supports the aged care Royal Commission and, in addition to our response to the provider survey, will provide a submission in due course. We believe in full transparency with the Commission on any requests for information we receive. In doing so, we are also committed to ensuring the privacy of current and previous residents is maintained.
The Royal Commission will be crucial in understanding what Australians want and expect from their aged care system, including how aged care services are best delivered regardless of provider, and how to sustainably fund the system long-term.
In examining the issues and finding solutions to improve the system, we expect the inquiry will uncover some difficult stories and case studies from across our industry, which may be challenging but nevertheless important to hear. It is an opportunity to make the system work better for residents today and in the future.
All aged care providers experience challenges with service provision from time to time – it’s why the Royal Commission is being held; there are issues with care across the entire sector, independent of the size, corporate structure or mission of the provider.
St Vincent’s Care Services is proud of its work in aged care and we stand by the service we provide while recognising the need for constant improvement.
What happens next?
For current residents and their families, staff and volunteers at St Vincent’s Care Services, it is business as usual. Now that the inquiry has commenced, we will monitor the proceedings and should there be any impact to our residents, facilities and staff, we will keep you updated.