It may well be the busiest time of the year for most industries, but that doesn’t stop the powers that be (Royal Commission) launch their first proverbial door knock into Aged Care.
In November the Royal Commission fired its first shots, with ‘invitation to submit’ letters distributed to the country’s top 100 providers. With each provider requested to complete a separate submission for every service or outlet they operate, they certainly have their work cut out for them this summer.
The ‘invitation’ letters are a part of the preliminary stage of the inquiry, and while it all seems very casual and polite, this stage is actually one of the broadest and most disruptive probes. With a cut off date of January 7, 2019, that’s less than 2 months to submit, the ‘early written submission’ is sure to turn the heat up for our Aged Care providers during the silly season.
That the pointy end of the inquiry has already reared its head may be a surprise to some ––the public in particular––it’s would come as no surprise to our major banks, who were under the same type of pressure not so long ago when they received their maiden inquiry invitations.
A similar approach was deployed very early on in the Financial Services Royal Commission, where entities were ‘invited’ to self-disclose “instances of misconduct (or conduct falling below community standards)”
And let’s not get complacent, while these early ‘voluntary’ submissions are presented as invitations, and are fairly passive in their concept, the Royal Commission are asking for a very comprehensive (up to 50 pages) and very mandatory disclosure document, in a “you decide your fate” kind of way.
SO, no, the submission process is not pardoned lightly.
While failing to submit does not come with a penalty, the ‘invitation’ should come with very serious consideration for these first 100 providers. It’s understood those who do not submit their statements to the Royal Commission voluntarily, will actually come under pretty serious scrutiny come time the Inquiry is in full swing.
OK, what exactly are they focusing on?
Put fairly basically, what the Royal Commission are wanting right now are voluntary inhouse reports dating back from 2013. The reports will focus on 2 areas, Retrospective action; identifying past neglect or abuse, naming and shaming offenders of sub-standard care, and Prospective action; policy development, identifying improvements in the past 5 years.
With both of these areas they will be looking at the actions taken in response to claims or reports, and the Commission will require close analysis as to whether it was a result of ‘systemic failure’ ––which intends to be one of the main focuses of the inquiry.
It’s recommended the first 100 providers currently seeing to the submission engage in legal advice addressing these initial inquiries. Peak bodies such as LASA are also offering up their support, providing myriad free resource materials to assist the process, including letters to residents and staff alerting them of the inquiries.
With the Royal Commission aiming for the Interim report to be completed by October 31, 2019 and the final report forecast for April 30, 2020, you can be sure this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Stay tuned for more updates as they come to hand, and any providers needing advice or support while handling their submission, please contact LASA.