What ACE Readers had to Say: The Aged Care Quality Standards One Year On

Last week CompliSpace released the Aged Care Impact Report – One Year On. The Report revealed that the burden of adjusting to the new Aged Care Quality Standards and also coping with a once in 100-year pandemic are straining the aged care sector, putting staff retention at risk and pointing to reduced capacity to care for residents.

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Weekly Wrap: 02 August 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 02 August 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 02 August 2020.

The information in the Weekly Wrap is aggregated from other news sources to provide you with news that is relevant to the aged care sector across Australia and worldwide. Each paragraph is a summary of the subject matter covered in the particular news article. The information does not necessarily reflect the views of CompliSpace and Critical Success Solutions.


Coronavirus / COVID-19 News

Changes to Victorian Aged Care Entry Restrictions: Vaccination Entry Restrictions Removed; New Visitor Restrictions Imposed

On 22 July 2020, Victoria’s Deputy Health Commander revoked Care Facilities Direction (No 7) and issued Care Facilities Direction (No 8). Direction No 8:

  • removes the requirement that people must have an influenza vaccination to enter an aged care facility
  • expands the categories of persons that are excluded from entering or remaining at a care facility
  • alters the reasons for which a person is permitted to visit a resident at a care facility, and sets limits on the number of visitors, number of visits, and duration of visits in relation to certain kinds of visits.

 

Coronavirus Australia: government sets up aged care response centre to deal with Covid-19 surge in Victoria

According to The Guardian, the federal government has launched a specialist aged care response centre to address the surging number of Covid-19 cases spreading through Victorian facilities, as authorities acknowledge measures taken to quash the state’s second wave of the virus have not yet led to lower numbers. Rapidly responding to outbreaks as they are identified and improving communications to family members of affected residents will also be the focus of the new centre, which will be jointly managed by Emergency Management Australia and Victoria Health. It will also work with aged care providers to ensure casual staff in facilities aren’t working across more than one facility.

 

Nation records deadliest day of the pandemic as Victorian coronavirus cases in aged care spiral

According to Aged Care Insite, Victoria has recorded its largest daily COVID-19 figures and the nation’s deadliest day of the pandemic within the space of 24 hours. Ten new deaths were announced on Sunday, seven of which were linked to outbreaks in aged care facilities, with 532 more COVID-19 cases recorded across the state. The deaths take the state’s toll from the virus to 71 and the national figure to 155. There are currently 560 active COVID-19 cases linked to residents and staff of at least 40 homes in Victoria, including 83 cases at Estia Health in Ardeer and 78 at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner.

 

Australia's aged care workers will get paid pandemic leave to prevent coronavirus outbreaks

According to SBS News, the Fair Work Commission has determined that aged care workers who must take sick leave because of coronavirus should receive paid pandemic leave. Casual aged care workers will be eligible for paid pandemic leave after a Fair Work Commission decision to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The variations will take effect from Wednesday and will remain in effect for three months, the commission said in a ruling released late on Monday. Many of the recent deaths in Victoria's second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have been linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities, which prompted the Fair Work Commission to act.

 

Calls for funding to cover aged care pandemic leave entitlement

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, provider peak bodies have united to give their support to pandemic leave for aged care workers but have said many will miss out without additional funding from the government. In a decision handed down on Monday, the Fair Work Commission ruled that the Aged Care Award should be varied to provide for paid pandemic leave. It said the Nurses Award and the Health Professionals Award should also be varied to provide paid pandemic leave to workers who are employed by residential aged care providers or required to work in residential aged care facilities.

 

More aged care residents will die: Victoria issues COVID-19 warning

According to The Senior, more aged care residents will die if people do not stick to COVID-19 guidelines. That is the grim warning from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who has urged the public not to go to work if they're unwell, and to do their bit to stop the deadly virus spread. "We will see more people die, particularly in aged care," he said. "The consequences could not be more grave." He said the rise in aged care cases was the "ultimate consequence" of people, including aged care workers, going to work sick.

 

Providers unhappy about Vic premier’s comments about majority of providers

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Victorian Premier’s disparaging comments about non-government run facilities are disappointing, hurtful and fear mongering, says an aged care provider peak body. There are 769 active cases linked to Victorian aged care facilities but only five are in state-run facilities, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference on Tuesday. Mr Andrews said he did not have confidence that non-government aged care facilities could do an adequate job and that current practices were not acceptable. Leading Age Services Australia General Manager of Policy and Advocacy Tim Hicks said the Premier’s commentary comparing state-run aged care facilities with non-state facilities was unnecessary.

 

66 Vic facilities hit by COVID since June

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, more than 65 aged care facilities have had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 since June, the quality and safety commissioner tells Australian Ageing Agenda. The Victoria Government announced on Friday morning that five aged care residents died and five new homes recorded positive cases in the previous 24 hours. More than 230 Victorian aged care residents have tested positive since 7 July and 17 residents have died, according to Federal Government data. The COVID-19-positive residents live across 21 aged care homes, Minister for Health Greg Hunt said on Thursday.

 

Update on PPE and Masks

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments are requiring aged care workers in specific regions to wear masks for the delivery of residential or in-home aged care services. This applies to all aged care workers and subcontractors of approved aged care providers. This includes staff delivering direct personal and clinical care as well as staff that provide other support services such as cleaning and catering. The National Medical Stockpile is providing masks to aged care services in specific declared community transmission regions:

Victoria – All residential and in-home aged care workers in Victoria, including declared areas of Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire

NSW All residential and in-home aged care workers in designated areas of Parramatta, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly.

Providers are now advised of additional steps to protect staff and residents working along the NSW/Victorian border. All staff who work in residential aged care facilities or deliver in-home aged care along the NSW/VIC border must wear a surgical mask (irrespective of where they live or have visited).

 

Travel and accommodation support for aged care workers

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the Australian Government COVID-19 response has now been expanded to provide travel and accommodation support for aged care workers working in residential aged care facilities in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. Support for eligible workers can include flights, accommodation and bus transfers from to/from the accommodation to the aged care facility they are working at. Travel and accommodation support is available to increase the surge capacity of your workforce or to minimise the community contact of your current workforce.

To access the arrangements you will need nominate a travel arranger who will be authorised to book travel or accommodation directly with the Australian Government’s travel suppliers. To register your staff as authorised travel arrangers please visit here or call 1800 318 207 for assistance. You will need to enter your National Approved Provider System ID. Once approved you will receive more detailed instructions on how to access the arrangements.

Information on eligibility and details on how to access this service is available here.

 

Reminder - Infection control training

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, providers are reminded of the need to ensure aged care staff have completed the COVID-19 infection control online training that is available for health care workers in all settings. This training covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19. Additional training modules, specifically designed for aged care workers are also available. The training can be accessed here.

 

NSW could be steps behind Vic's worsening COVID-19 crisis

According to Hospital and Healthcare, New South Wales (NSW) may be just steps behind Victoria’s worsening COVID-19 crisis unless rigorous infection control measures are maintained, suggests the government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd. In the last 24 hours Victoria has reported 384 new COVID-19 cases and 6 more deaths, adding to its state-leading total of 9049 cases and 83 deaths since the outbreak began in January 2020.

 

Pandemic accelerates digital transformation by six years

According to Hospital and Healthcare, a global study conducted by cloud communications platform Twilio reveals that 97% of enterprise decision-makers believe the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated their company’s digital transformation efforts. To better understand the magnitude of COVID-19 and the lasting effect it will have on business and customer engagement, Twilio surveyed more than 2500 enterprise decision-makers across the world to gauge the effect on their company’s digital transformation and communication roadmap.

 

Urgent Reminder for Providers: Notification of positive COVID-19 cases

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, all aged care service providers are reminded that you must immediately notify the Commonwealth Department of Health of any COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. Email the Department of Health at agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.

This notification is essential for the activation of Commonwealth support including rapid access to PPE from the National Medical Stockpile, case management, surge workforce support and supplementary pathology testing. This notification to the Department of Health is in addition to notifying your Public Health Unit. For more information on COVID-19 outbreak preparedness and management, refer to the CDNA National Guidelines.

The Department of Health has also published a checklist for residential aged care providers in - First 24 hours – managing COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility.

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Letter to Providers

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson has today written to aged care providers regarding their obligations to implement all necessary steps to mitigate the risks of COVID-19. The Commission will shortly be undertaking unannounced checks of aged care services to observe infection control practices and ensure that everyone is adhering to safe personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols and infection control arrangements. The Commission acknowledges the ongoing efforts of all aged care providers during this difficult time. Read the Commissioner's letter here.

 

Other News

No significant developments this week.

 

Legislation

Public Health Emergency Order under Section 22G (PHEO #7) (VIC) – commences 1.08.20

The purpose of this Order is to extend the public health emergency order (Order) published in the Gazette S 277 10 June 2020 (PHEO #7) to enable pharmacists to continue to supply a medicine in Victoria consistent with a Therapeutic Goods Administration Serious Shortage Substitution Notice (SSSN).

 

Guardianship and Administration and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) – commences 30.11.20

The objectives of the Act are to:

  • amend Queensland’s guardianship legislation to: provide a focus on contemporary practice and human rights for adults with impaired capacity; enhance safeguards for adults with impaired capacity in the guardianship system; and to improve the efficiency of Queensland’s guardianship system or improve the clarity of Queensland’s guardianship legislation;
  • amend the Integrity Act 2009 (Integrity Act) to implement recommendations 1 and 2 of the Finance and Administration Committee Report No. 19, Inquiry into the Report on the Strategic Review of the functions of the Integrity Commissioner (the FAC Report); and
  • amend the Government Owned Corporations Act 1993 (GOC Act) and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (PID Act) to implement recommendation 13 of the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) Report No. 97, Review of the Crime and Corruption Commission (PCCC Report).

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

New Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Resources – issued June 2020

The ACQSC has issued the following resources:

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Glossary: The Commission has produced a glossary of common terms to aid understanding of the aged care services sector. The list is not intended to be exhaustive and is provided as general information only.

Common questions you may want to ask residential aged care services about COVID-19: You, your friends and family have a right to know how your residential aged care service is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have developed some common questions that you can ask your service provider during this time.

Service Compliance Ratings Fact Sheet: The Department of Health, in partnership with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission), is introducing a service compliance rating system for residential aged care services. The rating system was developed in consultation with stakeholders, including senior Australians, their caregivers, aged care providers, and a range of peak bodies.

 

Flu vaccination poster

The Department of Health has issued this Flu Vaccination Poster. Residential aged care facilities may wish to display the attached poster at entrances, to alert anyone entering the facility of the flu vaccination requirements that came into effect on 1 May 2020.

 

Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line

According to The Department of Health, a new Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line has been set up to provide information, support and check on older Australians during the period of social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COTA Australia, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and the Older Person’s Advocacy Network have banded together to deliver this service with support from the Australian Government.

Senior Australians, their families and carers can freecall 1800 171 866 if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about what COVID-19 means for them or a loved one
  • are feeling lonely or distressed
  • are caring for a someone and need some information or a listening ear about what COVID-19 means for your circumstances
  • are worried about COVID-19 means for their usual aged care service
  • are worried about a friend or family member living with dementia.
  • are unable to access information on the internet and would like up-to-date advice.

Home care services providers can also use the number and dial option 1 to refer home care clients who would like a call from an independent organisation to check on their wellbeing.

The service will include outbound and inbound calls to provide contact, reassurance and practical advice on connecting to services to maximise social engagement and wellbeing whilst at home.

 

Resources on diverse population groups are now available for aged care staff

According to The Department of Health, The End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) website helps you to care for older Australians at the end of life. Our new diversity resources can help health workers and aged care staff to care for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Care leavers
  • Carers
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • Financially or socially disadvantaged people
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
  • People living in rural and remote areas
  • People with spirituality and faith beliefs
  • Veterans

How people think about death, dying and end of life is different for each person. Learning about these differences can help you to provide good palliative care. Access these resources on the Diverse Population Groups page of the ELDAC website.

 

Calculating residential accommodation payments in a leap year

This year is a leap year, with 366 days instead of 365. The Department of Health has received queries from approved providers of residential care seeking advice on how to calculate a daily accommodation payment (DAP) in a leap year. The calculators specified in the Fees and Payments Principles 2014 (No. 2) (the Principles) refer to 365 days for working out:

  • the DAP (or contribution) equivalent to a refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) (or contribution)
  • the amount of interest on a RAD (or contribution) balance or accommodation bond balance.

Even though 2020 is a leap year, residential care providers should continue to use 365 days when calculating DAP amounts and the interest payable on refunds of lump sum deposits. But please be aware that daily payments and daily contributions are payable for 366 days in 2020.

 

What Matters Most – New person centred care resources

According to The Department of Health, Palliative Care Australia, through a Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund grant, has launched a suite of resources to encourage early conversations about What Matters Most to older people, their care and their end of life preferences.

 

6 steps for safe prescribing antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care

Issued by the Department of Health, this infographic outlines the 6 steps for safe prescribing antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care.

 

Aged care video alert: Dignity of risk

According to Lexology, the concept of dignity of risk is not entirely new, however it now has a position of prominence in aged care with the Aged Care Quality Standards. In this video update, senior associate Dr Melanie Tan explains:

  • What does dignity of risk mean?
  • Where and when does dignity of risk apply?
  • What is the duty of care within dignity of risk?

 

ACE Editorial Team
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | ACE Editorial Team
ACE is published by CompliSpace and Critical Success Solutions. CompliSpace is an Australian company that specialises in helping organisations manage their legal and regulatory obligations. Critical Success Solutions is an Australian company that specialises in helping Aged Care and Disability Services manage their regulatory and legal requirements.

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