Understanding Star Ratings in Aged Care

July 8, 2024

We use ratings every day. 

If you watch a movie and like it, you might give it 4 out of 5 stars. If you Google a restaurant, you can use its rating to decide if you want to eat there—anything below 3.5 stars is not worth visiting. If you’re dissatisfied with customer service, you might give them 1 star.

In aged care, ratings are no different. They are crucial for providers and older people alike: providers use them to instil trust and confidence from their clients, and older people use them to find the best care possible.

The Australian government introduced Star Ratings for residential aged care to enhance transparency and empower consumers to make informed decisions about their care. Aged care requirements can sometimes be complex and difficult to understand, so the rating system allows older people, their families, and their communities to easily compare facilities based on key performance indicators.

The aged care Star Ratings are based on performance, and aged care homes receive a rating between 1 and 5 stars. There are four sub-categories in which aged care homes are assessed, and then receive an Overall Star Rating.

Breaking it down

The Star Rating scores aged care homes using weighting based on the following categories:

  1. Residents’ experience (33% weighting)

Using feedback from residents in aged care homes, insights captured from these results make up 33% of the Overall Rating.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission uses the Residents’ Experience Survey to gauge the residents’ experiences with a specific home care provider.

Typically, there are 14 questions in total that ask about:

  • The experiences of safety
  • Treatment from staff
  • Food standards
  • Feelings of independence and belonging

  1. Compliance (30% weighting)

Compliance is the second most important factor in the Overall Rating. 

Aged care homes must demonstrate compliance with their obligations under the Aged Care Quality Standards. Non-compliance can lead to penalties and lower ratings.

  1. Staffing (22% weighting)

Adequate staffing is a key component of delivering high-quality care. This subcategory measures the amount of care time that residents receive in aged care homes.

The overall care time is calculated based on the care minutes delivered by registered nurses, enrolled nurses, personal care workers, and nursing assistants.

  1. Quality measures (15% weighting)

Exerting the least amount of influence over the Overall Rating, quality measures encompass the clinical outcomes, safety measures, and other indicators of care quality.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission uses the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) and assessment data to understand the variations in care, and this data is also adjusted to ensure a fair comparison between residences.

The Overall Rating

The Overall Rating is then calculated using the above categories and weightings.

  • 5 stars = Excellent
  • 4 stars = Good
  • 3 stars = Acceptable
  • 2 stars = Improvement needed
  • 1 star = Significant improvement needed

As you can see, the more stars an aged care home receives, the better the quality of care.

How to comply and boost your rating

So, if you have a low rating or are looking to improve your rating, how do you do so?

A big part of this is being open and honest about your work, reflecting on your performance, and actively looking for ways to improve. It also means making targeted changes across the four categories.

We’ve identified three ways to achieve this:

  1. Update your policies and procedures

Robust policies aligned with the Aged Care Quality Standards are essential. 

Effective policies and procedures guide staff in delivering consistent, high-quality care—reducing inconsistencies as staff clearly understand their responsibilities. 

More importantly, they ensure compliance with legislative requirements.

  1. Provide training experiences

When staff have the appropriate skills and knowledge, they are better equipped to serve the needs of residents.

It’s also a requirement under the strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards, with Standard 4: The Environment outlining the need for workers to have the time, support, resources, and ability to manage risk.

So, it’s crucial to provide ongoing professional development and offer regular training to ensure staff are up-to-date with best practices and regulatory changes. Training could be conducted online or on the job through workshops or hard-copy resources.

We recommend online training due to best support staff members, as they are often time-poor. Mobile-friendly training is also advantageous, as staff can complete the training wherever and whenever they want.

A good starting point is finding a training bundle that covers the basics, including person-centred care and taking a rights-based approach, like our Aged Care eLibrary.

If you’re looking for something more specific, such as understanding the AN ACC classification system, our AN-ACC Documentation Fundamentals is also a great option.

  1. Align everything to the Aged Care Quality Standards

Beyond compliance, mapping your operations and practices to these Standards reflects positively on your Star Rating.

The Standards are at the core of aged care, informing each aspect of practice. So, it’s important to ensure that all your policies, procedures, and training are mapped to these Standards.

Final thoughts

Aged Care Star Ratings provide a benchmark for older people to make decisions about their care and the aged care homes they wish to access.

The better your ratings are, the more likely you are to become a preferred provider. This is because a higher rating suggests you have provided better care and have exceeded expectations. Therefore, it’s crucial for aged care homes to work towards higher ratings and, ultimately, deliver quality care to older people.

Aalia Hussein
Instructional Designer and Writer
Imaginative and inventive, Aalia is etrainu’s resident writer. She has a passion for weaving words together and storytelling. She’s in charge of etrainu’s content, creating engaging and immersive experiences across learning and marketing.
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