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Quality in aged care

The quality of care plays an integral role in the quality of life and outcomes for people using aged care in Australia. The quality of Australian Government-funded aged care is assessed against a set of quality standards by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC). As well as these standards, since 1 July 2019 residential aged care services must also participate in the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program).

AnchorResidential Aged Care Quality Indicators

Quality indicators measure aspects of service provision that contribute to the quality of care given by residential aged care services (RACS). Since 1 July 2019, participation in the National Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) has been a requirement for all Australian Government-subsidised RACS. Until 30 June 2021, the QI Program included 3 QIs (pressure injuries, physical restraint, and unplanned weight loss). This suite has since been expanded twice, with 2 additional indicators added in July 2021 and a further 6 indicators added in April 2023. The current 11 quality indicators include:

For more information about the QI Program, see the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program Manual 3.0 – Part A (QI Program Manual).

The AIHW releases results from the QI Program on a quarterly basis. The latest results from the QI program can be viewed on the Explore page Residential Aged Care Quality Indicators—latest release. Previous releases of this quarterly report are available here.

The AIHW also publishes the QI Program annual report, which presents quality indicators that have been recompiled for more complete data than were available at the cut-off dates for quarterly reporting. The latest results from the Residential Aged Care Quality Indicators Annual Report and previous releases of this report are available here.

Information about the compilation of Quality Indicators, including data quality, is available in the Technical notes for each report. The AIHW is still developing an understanding of factors that affect the quality of data used to calculate indicator values.

Experiences of people living in residential aged care

In addition, the ACQSC undertakes consumer experience surveys of residents in residential aged care services, in conjunction with regulatory audits. Consumers themselves have identified consumer experience in residential aged care as key information to support informed choice. Since 2017 the former Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and its successor, the ACQSC, have conducted consumer experience surveys of residents in residential aged care services, in conjunction with visits made for reaccreditation audits. Survey results for each service are published alongside the respective site audit report on the ACQSC website.

Substantial work has gone into identifying three dimensions of residential aged care that are of most interest to consumers:

These dimensions have been used to develop a set of standardised questions for obtaining consumer feedback on the quality of the care received and the service provider delivering the care.

Consumer Experience Report – standard questions and response categories
Residents are asked:
Q1: Do staff treat you with respect?
Q2: Do you feel safe here?
Q3: Do staff meet your healthcare needs?
Q4: Do staff follow up with you raise things with them?
Q5: Do staff explain things to you?
Q6: Do you like the food here?
Response categories: Never / Some of the time / Most of the time / Always
Residents are asked whether they agreed with these statements:
Q7: If I’m feeling a bit sad or worried, there are staff here who I can talk to.
Q8: The staff know what they are doing.
Q9: This place is well run.
Q10: I am encouraged to do as much as possible for myself. 
Response categories: Strongly agree / Disagree / Neutral / Agree / Strongly agree

This topic summarises the combined 2017–18 and 2018–19 results at a national level and, through analysis, seeks to identify factors associated with respondents’ choices. The full report Consumers' experience of residential aged care, Australia 2017–19 is available on the AIHW website, although the AIHW notes that results should be interpreted with caution considering factors such as survey sampling, response rates and representativeness.

Explore the national level results for the combined 2017–18 and 2018–19 surveys in the Explore consumer experience section.