Australia | First insights from the Serious Incident Response Scheme

Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) indicates that aged care residential providers have been working hard to implement and fine-tune their approach to incident management.

In the first six weeks of the scheme (from 1 April to 12 May 2021), the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has received 1,876 notifications which fall into the Priority 1 reportable incident category - that is, an incident in a residential aged care service that has caused, or could potentially have caused physical or psychological injury to a consumer, requiring medical or psychological treatment.

Each of these notifications is assessed by the Commission for the purpose of identifying whether further information is required from the service and/or regulatory action is warranted by the Commission.

The most common type of reported incident was unreasonable use of force, followed by neglect.

Commissioner Janet Anderson PSM said “The notifications received to date indicate that providers are responding actively and swiftly to their new reporting obligations under SIRS.”

A key part of SIRS is the requirement for providers to have in place an effective incident management system to reduce injuries and other incidents impacting consumers, and to respond appropriately to incidents if and when they occur.

“An aged care organisation which has an effective incident management system is well-positioned to collect and use incident data to build a learning culture, helping staff to prevent similar incidents from occurring and to better protect the health, safety and wellbeing of aged care consumers," said Ms Anderson.

This is the first in a series of insight reports on SIRS that will aim to reflect back to the sector relevant data and information drawn from serious incident notifications and the regulatory treatment of these notifications. Information from incident notifications informs the Commission’s broader regulatory actions and also indicates areas where the Commission can clarify and build on its initial SIRS guidance.

SIRS is a new initiative that aims to help prevent and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect of older Australians in residential services. It complements existing provider obligations under the Aged Care Act and strengthens responsibilities for providers to prevent and manage incidents. It requires providers to use incident data to drive quality improvement, and to report serious incidents. Providers notify the Commission of reportable incidents by completing a notification form on the My Aged Care Provider Portal.

The SIRS Insight report is available on the Commission’s website. Detailed guidance about SIRS and the new reporting obligations is also available on the Commission’s website.