Coming soon: New ‘Michelin guide’ for aged care

The MyAgedCare website does not yet show it, but on 1 December 2022 a new nursing home rating system started up. Presumably, it takes a while to collect and report data to start displaying new ratings. Until such time, we will have to make do with the old rating system.

If you recall, the old rating system consists of four dots. If a nursing home has only one dot, it is very, very bad. Two dots mean it’s very bad. Three dots mean it’s bad and four dots mean it’s okay, maybe good even.

You can see how this ratings system is not very helpful. It mainly tells you how bad the bad nursing homes are, but not how good the good ones are.

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Star rating

That is about to change. We’re going from four dots to five stars. At three stars, a nursing home is okay, at five stars, it’s excellent and at one star it’s atrocious. It’s a mystery, of course, why we first had to have the four-dot rating system of badness, but let’s put that behind us.

What you will see once the new system is up and running is an overall star rating from one to five. This overall rating is the average of ratings for four categories, and these ratings you will also be able to see.

The four categories are (1) residents’ experience, (2) regulatory compliance, (3) staffing and (4) quality indicators.

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Note that the new rating system doesn’t work like Google reviews. It’s the department of health that is in charge of compiling the ratings. However, the department is basing what it does on information from independent sources.

The rating of residents’ experience is based on interviews with residents or their representatives, such as family or friends. The interviews are conducted by an outside company specialising in that type of research.

The regulatory compliance rating is based on what the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission reports. Scoring one or two stars for this category means a nursing home’s overall rating cannot be higher than either one star or two stars, regardless of scores in the other three categories.

Staffing ratio

The staffing rating is based on what is recorded through the aged care funding arrangements and payroll. Incidentally, a nursing home cannot score higher than two stars (one star is very bad, two stars is bad) if it falls short in the number of care minutes provided.

Read: Stars align for ‘real’ increase to the Age Pension

The rating for quality measures is based on what nursing homes report (mandatory reporting) across five crucial areas of care: pressure injuries, physical restraint, unplanned weight loss, falls and major injury, and medication management.

The new rating system is clearly an improvement on the old one, which gave no indication of how good a nursing home was. 

The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) had pointed out on a few occasions that the old system was largely useless. The new rating system, once it gets going, should be a lot better.

Paul Versteege is policy manager at CPSA.

This article originally appeared on the CPSA website and is republished with permission.

Do you welcome the establishment of this guide? Do you trust it will be genuine? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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