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New Bills Presented to Parliament Affecting Residential Aged Care Provider Responsibilities

3/08/22
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Two Bills have recently been presented to Parliament which seek to reform the aged care sector. The Bills are intended to deliver on the Government’s election promises as well as respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (Royal Commission).

 

Overview of Key Reforms

  • Registered Nurses required 24/7 – expected to commence 1 July 2023
  • Mandatory 200 minutes of care time per resident – expected to commence October 2023
  • Publication of providers’ financial, care-time, staff and other information – expected to commence 1 December 2022
  • Aged Care Funding: AN-ACC to replace ACFI – expected to commence October 2022
  • Star ratings for providers – expected to commence October 2022
  • New Code of Conduct and Banning Orders – expected to commence 1 December 2022
  • New governance responsibilities – expected to commence 1 December 2022
  • Clarification of restrictive practices consent requirements – expected to commence in October 2022

 

Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 (Cth)

The Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 (Cth) was introduced into the House of Representatives on 27 July 2022 and referred to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on 28 July 2022. The Committee is due to report by 31 August 2022.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the purpose of the Bill is to “effect meaningful changes to the delivery of aged care services and the means for care recipients and their families to assess the relative quality of service delivery by care providers and at individual care facilities”.

The reforms affecting residential aged care providers are outlined below.

 

Registered Nurses Required 24/7 – Expected to Commence on 1 July 2023

This reform introduces a new responsibility for aged care providers to ensure that at least one registered nurse is on duty at all times. Exemptions will be available, but there is no detail yet on how these exemptions will apply. This requirement is expected to commence on 1 July 2023.

 

Transparency of Information – Expected to Commence on1 December 2022

This reform requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care to publish information relating to aged care services. This reform also empowers the Minister to tell the Secretary what kind of information should be published.

This reform does not directly affect aged care providers and does not require providers to collect or disclose information. However, providers should expect that in the near future the Department of Health and Aged Care will use the powers granted by this reform to publish information about aged care providers such as:

  • financial information
  • amounts of care time provided
  • details of key personnel; and/or
  • information about the staffing of an aged care service.

This reform is expected to commence on 1 December 2022.

 

Increased Minutes of Care per Resident – Expected to Commence from October 2023

Prior to the election, Labor pledged to introduce a mandatory 200 minutes of care time per resident per day to commence in October 2023, rising to a mandatory 215 minutes from October 2024. This reform is not mentioned directly in this Bill. However, in a document that was attached to the Bill, the Government said that it will be making these reforms soon.

 

 

Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 (Cth)

On 2 August 2022, the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 (Cth) was passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The Bill amends the law relating to aged care and health and aged care pricing and implements several measures in response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations. The amendments relating to residential aged care providers are outlined below.

 

Aged Care Funding: AN-ACC to Replace ACFI – Expected to Commence 1 October 2022

This reform facilitates the shift from the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) to the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC), which will commence on 1 October 2022. The move to AN-ACC was a 2021-2022 Budget initiative of the previous Government. Most aged care providers will be familiar with the transitional arrangements that the Department of Health and Ageing has implemented over the course of this year to help providers with the shift from ACFI to AN-ACC.

This reform is expected to commence on 1 October 2022.

 

Star Ratings – Expected to Commence in October 2022

This reform introduces a new requirement for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care to publish information with respect to the new Star Ratings system. These amendments require the Secretary to publish information about the quality of aged care provided by residential aged care services as well as the performance of approved providers of those services in relation to responsibilities and standards under the Aged Care Act.

This reform is expected to commence sometime in October 2022.

 

Code of Conduct and Banning Orders – Expected to Commence on 1 December 2022

This reform requires aged care providers to comply with a Code of Conduct. It will also give the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner power to take action in relation to compliance with, and enforcement of, the Code of Conduct. The reform will also give the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner power to ban a person from working as an aged care provider or aged care worker.

This reform is expected to commence on 1 December 2022.

 

Governance of Approved Providers – Expected to Commence on 1 December 2022

This reform aims to improve the governance of approved providers. It introduces new governance responsibilities for approved providers in relation to the membership of their governing bodies and the establishment of new advisory bodies, as well as measures to improve leadership and culture. It also introduces new reporting responsibilities for approved providers, which aim to help care recipients and their families to better understand the operations of providers. These measures are aimed at improving transparency and accountability.

This reform is expected to commence on 1 December 2022.

 

Information sharing – Expected to Commence in October 2022

This reform aims to facilitate greater information sharing between Commonwealth bodies across the aged care, disability and veterans’ affairs sectors. It also facilitates information sharing with worker screening units in relation to non-compliance with the Code of Conduct by approved providers and their workers and governing persons.

This reform is expected to commence sometime in October 2022.

 

Use of Refundable Deposits and Accommodation Bonds – Expected to Commence on 1 December 2022

This reform enables the Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care or the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner to request information or documents from an aged care provider or borrower of a loan made using a refundable accommodation deposit or bond. The amendments create an offence for a borrower who does not comply with a request. They also extend the period of liability for the existing offences for the misuse of refundable accommodation deposits, and prior to an insolvency event, for both providers and key personnel of providers, from two to five years.

This reform is expected to commence on 1 December 2022.

 

Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority – Expected to Commence in October 2022

This reform expands the functions of a renamed Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority (Pricing Authority) to include the provision of advice on health care pricing and costing matters, provision of advice on aged care pricing and costing matters, and the performance of certain functions conferred in the Aged Care Act. The amendments also establish new governance arrangements for the Pricing Authority to reflect the enhanced responsibilities and integrated functions of the Pricing Authority.

This reform is expected to commence sometime in October 2022.

 

Restrictive Practices – Expected to Commence in October 2022

This reform revises the strengthened arrangements on the use of restrictive practices that commenced on 1 July 2021, in response to unexpected outcomes in relation to the interaction with state and territory guardianship and consent laws. The amendments introduce interim arrangements to address this issue until state and territory laws can be amended. The amendments also allow for the Quality of Care Principles to make further provision for the giving of informed consent to the use of restrictive practices where a care recipient does not have capacity to consent, including where state and territory laws do not clearly provide for a person to consent to the use of restrictive practices.

This reform is expected to commence sometime in October 2022.

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About the Author

Elita Bird

Elita is a Legal Content Associate at CompliSpace. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws at the University of New England.

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