Serious Incident Response Scheme to commence 1 April 2021

The Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) is a national framework for incident management and reporting of serious incidents in residential aged care. It imposes obligations on aged care providers to manage and report on incidents, and expands the powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC). Minister Colbeck announced, on 2 December 2020, that “the SIRS will commence from 1 April 2021 and expands the responsibilities of aged care providers to identify, record, manage, resolve and report assaults and a broader range of serious incidents in residential aged care.” He announced on 1 October 2020 the government has provided an initial $23 million investment for the roll out.

On 2 December 2020 the Government introduced the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme and Other Measures) Bill 2020 into Parliament. Successful passage of the Bill will enable the SIRS in residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting to start from 1 April 2021. The SIRS forms part of the Government’s response to the Aged care Royal Commission recommendations into COVID-19 and aims to increase protection for aged care residents.

Essentially the SIRS is a system of mandatory reporting of alleged, suspected or actual serious incidents. Serious incidents include:

  • Unreasonable use of force
  • Unlawful or inappropriate sexual contact
  • Neglect
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Unexpected death
  • Stealing or coercion by a staff member
  • Inappropriate physical or chemical restraint
  • Unexplained absences from care.

Under the Scheme, Aged Care Providers will be required to have organisation-wide systems and processes to identify, record, manage and resolve incidents and report serious incidents. In addition, the ACQSC will have enhanced powers to take regulatory action where needed.

Under the new SIRS providers will have to report incidents of abuse and aggression between aged care residents, where the resident who commits the incident has a cognitive or mental impairment.
SIRS aims to strengthen aged care systems to reduce the risk of abuse and neglect; build providers’ skills so they can better respond to serious incidents; and make sure people receiving aged care have the support they need.
Critical Success Solutions have created a summary of the SIRS available to download below. The summary draws on the insights provided by the Australian Government Department of Health websites, Aged Care Essentials and the KPMG Prevalence Study for a SIRS Final Report (November 2019).

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