What is accreditation?
Accreditation is an internationally recognised evaluation process used in many countries to assess the quality of care and services provided in a range of areas such as health care, long term residential aged care, disability services, and non-health related sectors such as child care. Accreditation has been rapidly adopted by health and aged care services worldwide as part of a safety and quality framework.
Contemporary accreditation programs have both compliance and quality elements that work in a complementary way to promote quality and safety. Accreditation programs focus on continuous quality improvement strategies. They usually consist of a process that involves self-assessment, review or assessment of performance against predetermined standards by an external independent body and monitoring of ongoing performance against the standards by the accreditation body.
In Australia, residential aged care services are required to be accredited to receive Australian Government subsidies. The Commission has been appointed as the independent accreditation body, and assesses services' performance against the legislated Aged Care Quality Standards (Quality Standards).
Accreditation involves periodic full audits to assess compliance with the Quality Standards. In addition, the Commission monitors the quality of care and services and manages any non-compliance with the Quality Standards.
While accreditation-related processes involve a relationship principally between the Commission as the accrediting body and the approved provider, residential aged care accreditation exists for the benefit of aged care consumers (consumers) their relatives and representatives.
Quality assessors assess how a service is performing against the Quality Standards by collecting evidence and arriving at findings based on this evidence. Whenever we visit a service, our quality assessors have a focus on outcomes for consumers when they collect evidence. They review documented procedures, observe the practices at the service, and they look at consumer records and other documents held by the service such as staff rosters, incident reports, care plans and complaints registers. They also talk with selected consumers or their representatives to get their feedback about their satisfaction with the care and services being provided by the service. Over the course of a year, we will collect the views of around 50,000 consumers and their representatives.
The process of accreditation is outlined in the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018. Other legislation, notably the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018, and the Aged Care Act 1997 also apply.
The main elements of the accreditation process are:
- self-assessment by the provider of the service against the Quality Standards
- submission of an application for accreditation of a commencing service
- submission of an application for re-accreditation of an accredited service or recommencing service
- assessment by a team of registered quality assessors at a site audit and development of a site audit report
- development of a performance assessment report outlining compliance with the Quality Standards
- a decision about the service’s accreditation by a decision-maker (delegate of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner)
- issue of an accreditation certificate, the certificate of accreditation may be displayed at the accredited service
- publication of the performance report and accreditation decision on this website
- monitoring the quality of care and service at the service and managing any non-compliance with the Quality Standards
Consumer involvement in accreditation