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New aged care rating system better ‘but not perfect’

On 1 December 2022, a new nursing home rating system started up.

If you recall, the old rating system consisted of four dots. If a nursing home had only one dot, it was very, very bad. Two dots mean it was very bad. Three dots meant it was bad and four dots meant it was okay, maybe even good.

You can see how this ratings system was not very helpful. It mainly told you how bad the bad aged care homes were, but not how good the good ones were.

That is changing. 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.

Read: Aged care code of conduct comes into effect

The overall rating is the average of ratings in four categories – residents’ experience, regulatory compliance, staffing and quality indicators – and those ratings you will also be able to see.

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 that, with a bit of imagination, could be described as independently sourced.

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 this type of research.

Read: Your privacy rights given data breaches

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.

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. This system is far from perfect, and watch this space for more posts on it, but at least we now have a system that provides more, relevant information on each individual nursing home to help people decide where they or a relative should move.

Paul Versteege is policy manager at CPSA.

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

Have you welcomed the establishment of this new system? Does it make the selection of a home much easier? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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