The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety held its first day of hearings yesterday. It began with an opening address from Counsel assisting the Commission in which he informed the Commissioners that less than one half of aged care providers had responded to the Commission’s request for information about substandard care.
Even though the Commission had sought voluntary responses rather than using its extensive coercive powers, this is surprising for a number of reasons:
- When the Royal Commission was announced, the industry said it would co-operate fully and look forward to participating in the Commission’s processes.
- The Commissioners have made it clear that they will consider using their coercive powers if providers do not respond. If they do so, providers are likely to be given very little time to comply.
- Not responding exposes providers to accusations about what they might have “to hide” and the risk of negative publicity. In this regard it is worth noting that Counsel assisting went on to say “As Commissioner Briggs noted previously, providers who do not engage with our requests draw attention to themselves and to their practices. They will be subject to careful scrutiny.”
- Providing a response is a means to participate in improving the aged care system. The Royal Commission is a daunting prospect for providers but it also represents an opportunity; an opportunity to contribute to the design of an improved and more effective aged care system. The request from the Commission invited providers to comment on systemic issues within the system, provide information on changes that should be made and give details of innovative solutions they had implemented.
We have assisted providers across the spectrum of the industry to formulate their response; from those in the “top 100” large provider category to providers with less than 30 residents. It can be a time consuming and frustrating task but the risks of not responding can only be mitigated by providing a comprehensive and well considered response.
Please contact Joanne O’Brien if you would like to discuss how best to complete your response.