Royal Commission and open disclosure hot topics at ACSA WA symposium

by | Nov 15, 2019 | Aged Care Blog

Yesterday our Director Gemma McGrath and Special Counsel David McMullen spoke at Aged & Community Services Australia’s (ACSA) WA Leadership, Quality & Transformation Symposium held at Ambrose Estate in Wembley Downs.

David provided a legal analysis of the Royal Commission’s Interim Report and Gemma joined Ray Glickman (Principal – From Left Field) and Wendy Barrett (Advocate Team Leader – Advocare) for a panel discussion on open disclosure.

Here we share our top 5 takeaways on these topics.

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety – a legal analysis of the Interim Report

  1. At this stage all we have is a report that is necessarily interim in nature. It sets out learnings to date, draws some preliminary conclusions and outlines key areas for the Commission’s work over the next 12 months. The law hasn’t yet changed, and we don’t know with any certainty how the law will change in response to the Commission’s inquiries. The Commission has been quite deliberate in saying that the Interim Report is not a draft of the Final Report. The Commission has also not attempted to make interim recommendations. It is recognised that the reform of aged care must be systemic and transformational rather than reactive and piecemeal. Observations and early conclusions contained in the Interim Report will be the subject of comprehensive recommendations in the Final Report, which is expected to be published on 12 November 2020.
  2. The tone of the Interim Report is clear, in that there are problems with the current aged care system. The extent of substandard aged care is in fact more widespread and more serious than what had been anticipated by the Commission. The Interim Report doesn’t yet propose much by way of solutions, although three areas are specifically identified as needing urgent action, namely: home care package waiting lists; significant over-reliance on chemical restraint; and the plight of younger people in residential aged care.
  3. Despite numerous past reviews, there have been (at times) tangential and delayed Government responses; and recurrent underlying problems with aged care still remain. The Royal Commission may result in better outcomes by generating wider debate and creating political leverage to effect change. The Minister is on the record as saying there will be ‘a relatively short political window to do some things that might be difficult otherwise to do’; and the sector should take every opportunity to participate in advocacy and consultation, to ensure that change – specifically, the right change – occurs.
  4. Expect the Final Report to include recommendations for fundamental reform, redesign and overhaul. But if organisations are deficient in areas highlighted in the Interim Report: act now to resolve them.
  5. New regulation will play a role in reforming aged care, but should not be the default response. Decision makers should also be looking at how existing laws are applied. Any changes to the law will need to be coupled with changes in attitudes and behaviours.

Open disclosure when dealing with incidents in aged or community care

  1. It’s okay to say ‘sorry’ for what has occurred. Sincerity is the key.
  2. Provide a factual explanation of what occurred and provide the client with the opportunity to tell their story and ask questions.
  3. Identify what outcome the client may be seeking.
  4. Identify who in the organisation will be the contact person for the client and give the client that person’s name and contact details.
  5. Ensure your organisation has a formal open disclosure policy and that all staff are familiar with it.

Congratulations to ACSA for hosting another successful symposium and thank you for the opportunity to speak at this event. It was a great get together with ACSA members, speakers and sponsors.

We are looking forward to attending and being a sponsor at ACSA’s WA Christmas breakfast on 11 December.

Please contact Gemma McGrath or David McMullen if you have any questions in relation to the interim report and/or open disclosure. 

David McMullen

David McMullen