Major Aged Care Reforms: What to expect

What The Regulator Expects from Aged Care Providers – May 2024


The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission recently released its latest Sector Report on the performance of aged care providers. Although the report covers the period October-December 2023, it also identifies key issues that the Commission expects providers to address across the second half of 2024. Today we summarise those issues.



The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has particular expectations in regard to:

  • home care services’ overall compliance with the Aged Care Quality Standards
  • governance arrangements
  • the impact of SIRS reportable incidents
  • continuous improvement to reduce SIRS reportable incidents
  • complaints handling
  • home care services’ reporting of “Stealing and Financial Coercion” incidents.


Home Care Services: Overall Compliance

According to the Sector Report, only 66% of home care services that were audited by the Commission were found to be fully compliant with the Aged Care Quality Standards (compared with 85% of residential aged care services).

As a result, home care services are now a key focus area for the Commission. The Commission expects home care providers to “look closely at their data to identify areas they can improve”.



Of the eight Aged Care Quality Standards, Quality Standard 8 (Organisational governance) has the lowest rate of compliance in residential and home services. The Commission expects to see improvements in governance arrangements and has published the Governing for Reform in Aged Care educational program to help providers understand and meet their obligations.


Assessing the Impact of SIRS Reportable Incidents

Under the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS), all aged care providers (residential and home care) must notify the Commission when certain “reportable incidents” occur. If the incident has caused or might cause injury to a consumer, it is classified as “Priority 1” and must be reported within 24 hours; otherwise, the incident is classified as “Priority 2” and must be reported within 30 days.

To determine whether an incident is Priority 1 or Priority 2, a provider must assess the impact of the incident on the consumer. The Commission is concerned that “providers do not always correctly assess the impact of incidents on older people. The impact of an incident can be observable or not, severe or mild, and can change over time. The impact can be physical, psychological, social, spiritual or relate to dignity and rights. We expect providers to consider the impact of both Priority 1 and Priority 2 incidents on the older people in their care”.


Continuous Improvement to Reduce SIRS Incidents

The Commission expects “providers to be able to show how they keep improving to reduce the likelihood of incidents. This includes studying what happens when things go wrong and introducing changes to stop it from happening again”.


Complaints Handling

Although the number and rate of complaints in both residential care and home services dropped in the last few months of 2023, the Commission still expects providers to:

  • have their own internal complaints data that they can use to improve their service
  • encourage and support people receiving care to make complaints when there is an issue with their care
  • encourage and support their staff to resolve complaints.


Home Care Services: Reporting “Stealing or Financial Coercion”

The Sector Report reveals that in October-December 2023, overall numbers of SIRS Priority 1 incidents fell. However, “in contrast to this overall trend, there has been a concerning increase in the number of Priority 1 incidents of stealing or financial coercion in home services. We expect providers to have systems in place to detect, respond to and prevent these incidents”.


Next Steps for Providers

Providers should review their policies, procedures and data to see if improvements can be made to governance arrangements, complaints handling and SIRS reporting. They should also record the steps they’ve taken and the changes they’ve made as part of this process so that they can easily show the Commission what they’ve done.

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About the Author

Mark Bryan

Mark is a Legal Content Consultant at Ideagen CompliSpace and the editor for Aged Care Essentials (ACE). Mark has worked as a Legal Policy Officer for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the NSW Department of Justice. He also spent three years as lead editor for the private sessions narratives team at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Law, a Graduate Diploma in Writing from UTS and a Graduate Certificate in Film Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

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