Serious Incidents Response Scheme – A reminder for residents, families and others

2 Nov, 2021

The Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) is a new legislative reporting responsibility to support the reduction and prevention of abuse and neglect in residential aged care services. SIRS will replace the Compulsory Reporting requirements that were in operation until April 2021.

The scheme requires aged care providers to identify, record, manage, resolve and report all serious incidents that occur, or are alleged or suspected to have occurred.

The first stage of the scheme will commence on 1 April 2021.

From this date, providers are required to report all incidents assessed as Priority 1 reportable incidents to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC).

Priority 1 incidents include:

– Unreasonable use of force – for example, hitting, pushing, shoving, or rough handling.

– Unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct – such as sexual threats or stalking, or sexual activities without consent.

– Psychological or emotional abuse – such as yelling, name calling, ignoring a consumer, threatening gestures, or refusing a consumer access to care or services as a means of punishment.

– Unexpected death – in the event of a fall, untreated pressure injury, or the actions of a consumer result in the death of another consumer.

Stealing or financial coercion by a staff member – for example, if a staff member coerces a consumer to change their will to their advantage or steals valuables from the consumer.

– Neglect – for example includes withholding personal care, untreated wounds, or insufficient assistance during meals.

– Inappropriate physical or chemical restraint – for example, where physical or chemical restraint is used without prior consent or without notifying the consumer’s representative as soon as practicable; where physical restraint is used in a non-emergency situation; or when a provider issues a drug to a consumer to influence their behaviour as a form of chemical restraint.

– Unexplained absence from care – this occurs when the consumer is absent from the service, it is unexplained and has been reported to the police.

The second stage of the scheme will commence from 1 October 2021. From this date, all Priority 2 incidents must be reported to the Commission within 30 days. ‘Priority 2’ reportable incidents are all incidents that do not meet the criteria for ‘Priority 1’.

The key components of the incident management system are:

1. Documented policies and procedures – to enable staff to identify, respond to, resolve and learn from incidents. These must be made available to staff, consumers and their representatives;

2. An incident recording tool – a paper based or electronic system to capture information about incidents that enables staff to monitor, report and analyse incident data to ensure continuous improvement of care and services;

3. A staff training program – program that evidences all staff understand their regulatory obligations, how the incident management system operates and their role within that system;

4. A governance/oversight arrangement – to ensure the Provider’s ongoing governance and accountability provides oversight of the system’s operation and ensure its effectiveness in driving continuous quality improvement.

Accessing more information and resources
For more information on the incident management system refer to Effective incident management systems: Best practice guidance.

All staff are responsible for identification, escalation, follow up and reporting of all alleged, suspected and actual incidents, including those being reported by consumers or their representatives.

Providers will be required to demonstrate that an open disclosure process is used when things go wrong in providing care for consumers.

For further information, refer to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website or Serious Incident Response Scheme, Guidelines for residential aged care providers.