The Department of Health and Aged Care plans to add further data sets over time to its new aged care star ratings system, the first iteration of which went live on December 19 on the My Aged Care website.
Star ratings were a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to provide measurable information on aged care quality and to benchmark residential aged care facilities.
The research and development of the system was led by the University of Queensland, the Aged Care Industry IT Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers. It resulted in a graded system ranging from one to five, measuring four sub-categories: compliance, residents’ experience, staffing and quality measures.
The director of the quality and assurance division at the Department of Health and Aged Care, Emma Cook, said a prototype tool was developed using Salesforce technology to ingest historical data to produce potential ratings, which were then tested and a final design produced.
The first iteration went live in December, with the majority (54 per cent) of RACFs receiving a three-star rating. Thirty-six per cent received four stars.
Department of Health and Aged Care assistant secretary Josh Maldon said more data would be added in future.
“I think it’s really important to note that this is a first step is how I would describe star ratings,” Mr Maldon said. “It’s something that will evolve over time.
“So as part of this there will be an ongoing process of evaluation to see how it’s driving provider behaviour and the behaviour of older Australians, looking at the benchmarks. What good looks like can change over time so they’re things we have to be conscious of.
“And ultimately we do want to feed more datasets as they become available into the star ratings system so we can enhance transparency and people can make decisions about their care based on the things that are important to them.”
Ms Cook said aged care providers were reporting staffing levels and quality measures directly to the department, while consumer experience measures were gathered by independent assessors. This will be on an annual basis.
While the new Quality of Life – Aged Care Consumers (QOL-ACC) and Quality of Care Experience (QCE) surveys developed by Flinders University that are being rolled out in April are separate to the star rating system, Ms Cook said the plan was to align the tools with the star ratings eventually.