Aged care employers and their employees should be aware of the new Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) in July of this year.
AHPRA recently published a press release in August and announced the new agreement formalising the collaborative working relationship that exists between AHPRA and the Commission. The agreement will ensure a continued sharing of information between the two agencies where there may be concerns in aged care, and help each party to more effectively fulfill their statutory mandates
The agreement allows for AHPRA’s continued support of the Commission raising concerns about the health, performance or conduct of registered health practitioners working in aged care. In implementation, APHRA will disclose information to the Commission if there are concerns about the care and safety of someone receiving Commonwealth-funded aged care services.
National Register of Practitioners
The agreement also brings an additional commitment by AHPRA to work with the Commission to ensure that all aged care employers are using the National Register of Practitioners (the Register). The Register allows aged care employers to confirm that their health practitioners are appropriately registered and meet the required registration standards and codes of conduct. Practitioners listed on the Register can practise within the scope of their registration in accordance with any conditions or undertakings that may apply.
Aged Care Employer Obligations
Aged care employers are responsible for ensuring their employees (including those engaged through employment agencies) and volunteers are appropriately skilled and qualified to care for residents. Employers must be satisfied that employee documents demonstrating identity, qualifications and registration are genuine. They must also validate employee’s claims of competency or training.
AHPRA has previously emphasised that it is imperative enquiries are made in order to verify or substantiate documentation prior to employing or engaging an individual via the Register, particularly if there are any suspicions regarding the legitimacy of documentation.
There are also ongoing obligations once an individual is employed, which require employers to stay up to date with any changes to an employee’s registration and meet mandatory notification obligations.
The Register provides accurate, up-to-date information about the registration status of all registered health practitioners in Australia. It is an excellent tool for aged care employers to verify employee qualifications and support ongoing registration review.
The Register of Practitioners can be found on AHPRA’s website, at: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registers-of-Practitioners.aspx.
This article was written by Sarah McJannett, Partner and Amelia Gordon, Law Graduate.