The feasibility of developing a standards rating system for all Australian government aged care homes

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Abstract

Aims and objectives

The main objective of this project was to investigate the likelihood of creating an easily understood rating system for all aged care homes. A secondary objective was to canvas the feasibility of alternative systems that could better inform aged care consumers.

Background

Standards rating systems are used internationally to enable comparisons in healthcare. In Australia, the performance of numerous services and products are measured according to the star system of ratings, yet despite their widespread use, star ratings remain absent from the healthcare industry.

Methods

A National Consultative Group (NCG) consisting of key stakeholder representatives was consulted, and a literature review performed on existing standards (or ‘star’) rating systems. Telephone interviews were conducted with representatives from aged care homes, as well as consumers.

Results

A standards rating system for aged care homes was not found to be feasible in the current climate. However, an alternative system that emphasises empowering aged care consumers, such as one that allows consumers to search for an aged care home using their own criteria of preference, was considered more feasible.

Conclusion

The need for information to assist consumer choice – limited as it may be – is real. Ways of providing more consumer friendly, useful information need to be further explored and developed. Recommendations are made for future work in this area.

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