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Back to "Community & Associations Newsletter - March 2019"

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Aged Cared Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (“the Royal Commission”) commenced its hearings in Adelaide on 11 February, 2019.

In addition to hearings, the Commission will also participate in community engagement in the form of open and invitation-only round table and informal discussions with a range of stakeholders in various locations, and other opinion gathering exercises, such as surveys, and visiting some services.

The hearings will include accounts from national peak bodies representing aged care providers, consumers and healthcare providers, and regulators, along with aged care consumers.

Large operators were invited to submit survey responses by mid-January, 2019. All other operators were invited to submit survey responses by 8 February 2019. The surveys asked operators to report incidences of failure in care, or safety lapses and formal complaints, but also encouraged submissions on each operator’s view of critical areas for improvement eg staffing, funding, training, medical/hospital support etc

The Commissioners, Ms Lynelle Briggs and Justice Richard Tracey, have encouraged operators to participate in the voluntary process, lest they be compelled to deliver information.

The Commission has published 5 practice guidelines to assist operators and their advisers of its procedures: how it will treat claims of legal professional privilege, appearances and witness involvement, de identifying information and producing documents to the Commission

After the pressure of the initial January and February deadlines we recommend operators be reviewing all their records, collating information in easily producible form (electronic), improving any policies and procedure manuals, preparing staff, residents, families, and all stakeholders for any case hearings that may ensue and resourcing operations so as to be ready to promptly respond to any particular requests from the Commission.

Importantly, operators should be preparing for dealing with the media, including particularly, social media.  Having media statements ready for upload to the operator’s website, or other platform, should be done if at all possible, well in advance.

Bill Madden, Special Counsel

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