New aged care standards released for consultation

Morgan Liotta

8/10/2019 2:29:58 PM

The RACGP is calling for feedback on its draft voluntary standards to improve patient care in the residential aged care setting.

GP and older patient
Many GPs have expressed concerns about the barriers they face when delivering care in residential aged care facilities.

The first edition of the RACGP’s Standards for general practice residential aged care (Standards for GPRAC), developed by the Standards for GPRAC Working Group and the RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC–SGP), is informed by current national and international evidence and standards.
The Standards for GPRAC have been developed to help address the gaps between the Aged Care Quality Standards and the Standards for general practices (5th edition).

The new aged care standards are voluntary and do not seek to replace existing requirements for accreditation against the Aged Care Quality Standards.

According to the RACGP, members have contacted the college to raise concerns about the barriers they face when delivering care in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), reporting a lack of appropriate systems, equipment and infrastructure needed to support and enhance the delivery of quality, safe and effective care for residents.
‘Many GPs have contacted the RACGP expressing concerns about the challenges of working in the sector,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said. ‘They want the best for their patients and believe much more can be done to help support and enhance the quality and safety of GP care in aged care.’  
The RACGP is now welcoming feedback from members, as well as stakeholders from the broader aged care sector, to help address these barriers, and to support and enhance the delivery of GP care in this setting.
While the current Aged Care Quality Standards that came in to effect on 1 July 2019 are resident-focused, they do not address all aspects of care provision or focus on the clinical interface and systems that are crucial to support the provision of quality care.
The RACGP also recognises that, given the complexity of the aged care sector, further support is required to ensure that older Australians living in RACFs can access timely, appropriate and safe services.
REC–SGP Chair Dr Louise Acland believes the Standards for GPRAC will help improve resident access to primary healthcare services.
‘These Standards were developed to specifically address the barriers that limit the capacity of GPs to provide the best possible standard of care,’ she said.
‘For example, there are sometimes cases where a resident is admitted or discharged from hospital without notifying the patient’s regular GP. It’s vital that when this occurs all relevant information is communicated to the resident’s regular GP so they can follow up.
‘Making sure the right processes are in place can make a huge difference.’
The Standards for GPRAC highlight the clinical interface between RACFs and GPs, focusing on:

  • resident care coordination
  • equipment and infrastructure
  • medication management
  • ensuring appropriate qualifications for the broader care team.
Recognising the additional challenges facing GPs working in the sector, the RACGP has previously advocated for the retention of the Aged Care Access Incentive (ACAI) and continues to call for issues with the introduction of the new aged care Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers to be addressed.
Dr Nespolon acknowledged the timely opening of the consultation period for the Standards for GPRAC.
‘The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality Safety demonstrated once again that providing clinical care for older people isn’t easy and that improvements are needed,’ he said.
The opening of the consultation period for the Standards for GPRAC follows the recent launch of the RACGP aged care clinical guide (Silver Book).
The draft standards are available for review on the RACGP website. Consultation is open from Tuesday 8 October until Tuesday 5 November.

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