Infection Control Spot Checks in Residential Aged Care: What Providers Need to Know

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is stepping up its program of infection control spot checks of residential aged care homes.

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Weekly Wrap: 04 October 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 04 October 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 27 September 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

Royal Commission COVID-19 report identifies immediate areas for action

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has handed a special report on the COVID-19 pandemic in aged care to the Governor-General. The report is the result of a hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety into the impact of COVID-19 on aged care, which was held in Sydney from 10 to 13 August 2020. Read the report here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest challenge Australia's aged care sector has faced. Those who have suffered the most have been the residents, their families and aged care staff. This report makes six recommendations, among them, a requirement that the Australian Government report to the Australian Parliament no later than 1 December 2020 on the progress of their implementation. The report identifies four areas for immediate action to support the aged care sector:

  • First,the Australian Government should fund providers to ensure there are adequate staff available to deal with external visitors to enable a greater number of more meaningful visits between people receiving care and their loved ones.
  • Second,the Australian Government should create Medicare Benefits Schedule items to increase the provision of allied health and mental health services to people living in residential aged care during the pandemic to prevent deterioration in their physical and mental health.
  • Third,the Australian Government should publish a national aged care plan for COVID-19 and establish a national aged care advisory body.
  • Finally,the Australian Government should require providers to appoint infection control officers and should arrange for the deployment of accredited infection prevention and control experts into residential aged care homes.

Government welcomes Aged Care Royal Commission’s COVID-19 report recommendations

According to the Department of Health, the Australian Government has welcomed the COVID-19 report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which has been tabled in the Australian Parliament today [1 October 2020].

The Royal Commission’s report tells us the COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest challenge Australia’s aged care sector has faced and makes six recommendations to better prepare the aged care sector, its staff and residents for any future outbreaks. The Government accepts all six recommendations in the report and has already made substantial progress on four of them.

The recommendations build on the Government’s existing COVID-19 measures. The Government will invest $40.6 million in our initial response to the Royal Commission’s report and recommendations.

 

Aged care virus deaths could have been avoided: Murphy

According to Aged Care Insite, the deaths of hundreds of elderly Australians could have been prevented through a faster coronavirus response, former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy says. At least 663 nursing home residents and seven people receiving home care have died to date. But the Department of Health secretary told a COVID-19 committee on Tuesday that it was impossible to say what proportion could have been avoided.

 

Equipment, testing boost to Vic’s COVID response

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Federal Government is funding additional face masks and extended testing for residential aged care workers in Victoria’s Melbourne and Mitchell shires to reduce the spread of COVID. The measures announced by Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck on Wednesday aim to support the Victorian Government’s aged care response and reinforce exiting health safeguards. The additional measures come Victoria records 147 active cases linked to aged care facilities falls to 147 on Wednesday among a cumulative total of 4,600 linked to residential aged care the state.

 

Updated Queensland Health restrictions

(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, COVID-19 restrictions have eased in Queensland. From 25 September 2020, there are no Local Government Areas listed as Queensland COVID-19 restricted areas. Further information is available from Queensland Health. You should continue to keep up to date and regularly review your state and territory government directives.

 

 

Other News

ACFI cuts inappropriate, RC hears

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Australian Government froze funding increases more likely because it was unwilling to meet the rising costs of the aged care system it had set up than to address overclaiming, the aged care royal commission has heard. In summarising statements last Tuesday, Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray said evidence heard by the commission during the seven-day hearing in Sydney highlighted that indexation freezes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument in 2012-13 and 2016-17 were likely money-saving measures.

 

Call to remodel star-rating proposal

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the royal commission’s proposed four-star rating model for residential aged care may take the sector a step backwards, an industry professional tells Australian Ageing Agenda. Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety made the proposal, which is based on achieving a four-star rating under an adjusted US-staffing model during a hearing in Adelaide in February.

It is based on an average case-mixed total of between 186 and 265 care minutes per resident per day from registered and enrolled nurses and personal care workers with a daily minimum of 30 minutes of registered nurse care time per resident and at least 22 minutes of allied health care per resident per day. Pride Living financial and operational management partner James Saunders said the proposal says a four-star rating can be achieved with three hours and six minutes of care including 63 minutes from a registered nurse, and two hours from an enrolled nurse or personal care worker.

“That’s a lot like the old nursing home model because that gives us carer hours of just over two hours a day. That equates to the bad old days, where we had a [carer-to-resident] ratio of 1 to 8 on day shift, 1 to 12 in the evening and 1 to 30 on night shift,” Mr Saunders told AAA.

 

Rescue package part of budget trifecta aged care needs: Grattan

According to Aged Care Insite, Expansion in home care. Greater transparency. A “tightly scrutinised” rescue package. That’s the aged care trifecta government should deliver in next week’s federal budget, say Grattan Institute researchers. Writing for The Conversation, the think tank’s health program director Stephen Duckett, along with Anika Stobart and Emeritus Professor Hal Swerissen from La Trobe University, said more money is necessary but not sufficient.

“The aged care system needs to be redesigned, throwing out the current market-driven, provider-centric approach. The ultimate goal should be a dramatically different aged care system which is more attuned to supporting the rights of older Australians.”

 

$10.6m in budget to get young people out of aged care

According to Community Care Review, next week’s budget will include $10.6 million for a national network of system co-ordinators to help keep younger people with disability out of residential aged care. The money will fund up to 40 co-ordinators to directly help younger people who are living in or, at risk of entering residential facilities. The initiative is included in a new government strategy for getting young people out of residential aged care facilities and into age-appropriate accommodation in the community.

 

Palliative Care Prognostic Tools Survey

(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.)

The Department of Health’s National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 prioritises the need for early planning and referral to palliative care for people affected by life-limiting illnesses. The department is seeking information from all aged care providers to gain a better understanding of the use of palliative care prognostic (predictive) tools in aged care services.

The survey seeks to:

  • determine the types of tools used by aged care services to identify patients nearing end of life who may have a need for advance care planning discussions and referral for palliative care
  • determine the extent these tools are used within different settings
  • explore the facilitators and barriers for using the tools.

The department encourages all aged care services to complete the survey by 30 October 2020. If you have any questions about the survey, please email partneringwithconsumers@safetyandquality.gov.au.

 

Aged Care Online Claiming update

(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, Services Australia will be closing access to Aged Care Online Claiming and Aged Care Online Services by 20 November 2020. The new Services Australia Aged Care Provider Portal (ACPP) replaces both systems. Services still using the old portals should finalise their last claims for September and October 2020 and then start using the ACPP.

Services can now also nominate individual users to have Organisation Administrator access. An organisation administrator can:

  • manage who has access to view or submit information by service
  • add or remove access for an existing ‘A’ Number
  • request the creation of a new ‘A’ Number.

Services can set up Organisation Administrators by completing and returning a Register, amend or remove users for Aged Care Provider Portal (AC004) form. For more information, visit the Services Australia website.

 

Launch of new ACPC website and RAD application form

(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 Pricing Commissioner (ACPC) has launched a new website. The updated website includes:

  • a new homepage
  • simpler navigation
  • a calculator to assist providers each year with indexation of an approved refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) price.

The ACPC has also launched a new RAD application form and data sheet. Input from the sector, including residential aged care providers, the Department of Health and peak bodies, helped revise the form to ensure an improved and simpler user experience for providers.

These improvements provide better guidance for applicants about what is required and less need for follow up questions before approval. Providers can continue to use the old forms until 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, only the new form and data sheet will be accepted.

 

Peak bodies unify to create ten key principles for the future of aged care

According to Aged Care Guide, six aged care consumer and carer peak bodies have banded together in a bid to outline their shared vision for aged care in the future that will improve quality care for older people in Australia. This alliance comes as the aged care system faces scrutiny and pressure over the last year. Particularly around failures that were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and through the ongoing investigations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The alliance includes Carers Australia, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Dementia Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), National Seniors Australia and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

 

Human Rights Commission launches elder abuse campaign

According to Community Care Review, the Australian Human Rights Commission has launched an elder abuse awareness campaign marking International Day of Older Persons. Themed around the concept of ‘open your eyes to elder abuse’, the centrepiece of the campaign is a confronting video in which older people talk about their experience of abuse in their own voices. The campaign highlights the ‘red flag phrases’ that can often indicate an older person is experiencing elder abuse. Before COVID-19, between two and 14 per cent of older Australians experienced elder abuse in any given year, according to the Australian Institute of Family studies. Financial abuse is the most common form.

 

Legislation

No significant developments this week.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

LASA National Congress – online 12-23 October 2020

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, designed for any member of our industry – from managers to carers – this vital professional development opportunity will provide you with a full schedule of quality sessions.

 

Clinical Governance in Aged Care Conference – online 28 and 28 October 2020

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Clinical Governance in Aged Care conference is taking place on 28th & 29th October 2020 via live stream and will support you with the knowledge and practical insights to improve safety, accountability and compliance. You'll learn strategies to help you deliver improved outcomes as an aged care provider for your customers through the pandemic and beyond.

 

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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