Report finds aged care regulator suffering from 20 per cent staff vacancy

A report on Australia’s aged care regulator says lack of staff, including quality assessors, is affecting its ability to do its job as it faces an expanded role in the wake of the royal commission.

David Tune

An independent review of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission by former senior public servant David Tune released last week says the commission is ‘maturing’ into the body that will be responsible for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of older Australians when the new Aged Care Act comes into force next July.

However, Mr Tune also found “some critical cabability gaps in the organisation that require urgent attention”.

Among these are a current staff vacancy rate of 20 per cent, coupled with under-resourcing of  ICT and HR services.

The Commission has faced significant issues attracting and retaining staff in an environment of staff and skills shortages across the aged care sector and more broadly, the report says.

“The Commission currently has a staff vacancy rate of 20 per cent which results in capability and capacity deficits. In particular, quality assessor staff are difficult to attract and retain,” Mr Tune writes.

“In addition to staff shortages, the resourcing of corporate services such as ICT and HR have not kept pace with the growth in functions and staffing needs.”

He says if the commission is to become a trusted and high performing regulator, it must urgently fix its organisational structure, senior leadership, and internal governance and focus on better engagement with the community and the aged care sector.

32 recommendations

The report makes 32 recommendations to bolster and rebuild the Commission, including partnering with aged care provides and peak organisations and improving communication with the Department of Health and Aged Care.

He also calls for an urgent review of the complaints system and serious incident response system, with the appointment of a new Aged Care Complaints Commissioner a high priority.

Mr Tune recommends against the commission taking on any more new functions before the new Aged Care Act comes into force, saying stakeholder feedback suggests it has been ‘overloaded’ and new functions transferred from the health department are causing “serious risks” to its business-as-usual functions.

Commissioner welcomes report

Janet Anderson

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Janet Anderson said the report would ensure the Commission continued to strengthen its ability to uphold best practice care for older people.

“We are determined to use the review findings and recommendations as a springboard to strengthen our capability to help lift the standard of care and overall performance of the aged care sector, and boost the community’s trust and confidence in aged care services,” she said.

 Aged care minister Ankika Wells said Mr Tune’s report acknowledged the Commission has achieved a great deal, including in its implementation of new functions.

“But there remain gaps to overcome to ensure the Commission can successfully undertake its important role of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of older Australians,” she said.

She said she has ordered the department to establish a senior level steering group as a first step in prioritising and implementing the recommendations.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required