Accreditation overview

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is an internationally recognised evaluation process used in many countries to assess the quality of care and services provided in a range of areas such as health care, long term residential aged care, disability services, and non-health related sectors such as child care. Accreditation has been rapidly adopted by health and aged care services worldwide as part of a safety and quality framework.

Contemporary accreditation programs have both compliance and quality elements that work in a complementary way to promote quality and safety. Accreditation programs focus on continuous quality improvement strategies. They usually consist of a process that involves self-assessment, review or assessment of performance against predetermined standards by an external independent body, and monitoring of ongoing performance against the standards by the accreditation body.

In Australia, residential aged care homes are required to be accredited to receive Australian Government subsidies. We have been appointed as the independent accreditation body, and we assess homes’ performance against a set of legislated Accreditation Standards. Click here to download the Accreditation Standards fact sheet.

This involves periodic full audits, as well as unannounced visits to monitor continuing compliance with standards.

While the accreditation-related processes invariably involve a relationship principally between us as the accrediting body and the approved provider, residential aged care accreditation exists for the benefit of aged care consumers – residents, their relatives and representatives.

Whenever we visit a home, our assessors review documented procedures, observe the practices at the home, and they look at resident records and other documents held by the home such as staff rosters, incident reports, care plans and complaints registers. They also talk with residents to get their feedback about their satisfaction with the care and services being provided by the home. Over the course of a year, we will collect the views of around 50,000 residents and their representatives. Evidence of how a home is performing against the Accreditation Standards is based on a number of sources and corroborated, with the focus being on outcomes for residents.

The process of accreditation is outlined in the Accreditation Grant Principles 2011. Other information such as rights and responsibilities of approved providers is outlined in the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Accountability Principles 1998.

The main elements of the accreditation process are:

  • self-assessment by the home against the Accreditation Standards
  • submission of an application for re-accreditation (with or without the self-assessment)
  • assessment by a team of registered aged care quality assessors at a site audit
  • a decision about the home’s accreditation by a decision-maker (not part of the assessment team)
  • issue of an accreditation certificate
  • publication of the decision on this website
  • unannounced visits to monitor homes’ on-going performance