Making a Plan and Checking it Twice: Aged Care COVID-19 Advice from the ACQSC

A second wave of COVID-19 is currently being experienced by several of our communities, particularly within Victoria and NSW, and a large percentage of cases are older people within our aged care homes. While previously only a few facilities were impacted by COVID-19, we have never experienced the number of infectious outbreaks impacting such a large number of Aged Care Homes at one time as are currently being reported across Melbourne.

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Weekly Wrap: 05 July 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 05 July 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 05 July 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

Support for Victorian Aged Care Services

(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, aged care providers located in areas of Victoria where there is an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases are currently facing increased challenges. To support residential aged care providers the national guidelines for infection prevent and control have been recently updated and are available on the Department’s website. A new factsheet is available that steps out what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak at a residential aged care facility. In addition, new resources prepared by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are available to support Victorian residential and home care providers to be ready and alert to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. Victorian services that have a COVID-19 case must immediately contact the Victorian Public Health Unit (PHU) on 1300 651 160 and the Commonwealth Department of Health by emailing: agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.

 

Workforce Surge FAQs

(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, workforce surge is available if you experience a COVID-19 outbreak. The Department has engaged four organisations to support providers to access surge workforce. Workforce accessed through these arrangements will be funded by the Australian Government either up-front or providers will be able to seek reimbursement of costs via the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant Program. The Aged Care Workforce Support FAQs have been updated to reflect the full suite of workforce surge options available.

 

Workforce Retention Bonus Payment

(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, with only two weeks to go, a reminder to lodge your applications for eligible staff for the Aged Care Workforce Retention Bonus Payment by 20 July 2020. Information regarding this grant opportunity can be found on the GrantConnect website. To prevent delay in processing, please ensure that you attach the Staffing Profile Spreadsheet that is available on the GrantConnect website. Further information can be found in the FAQs for providers and agencies and for aged care workers.

 

Families of Newmarch House residents consider class action

According to Aged Care Insite, lawyers will allege that Anglicare was negligent in its handling of the Newmarch House COVID-19 outbreak and breached its duty of care to residents if family members launch a class action against the provider. Nineteen people died when after the virus spread through the facility earlier this year. Family members have approached Shine Lawyers to consider next steps and some are in the early stages of mounting a class action against Anglicare.

 

Aged care CEOs share concerns, hopes for 2020-21

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, funding, COVID and fatigue top the concerns for the next year while the sector’s dedicated workforce is providing hope for many, aged care CEOs tell Australian Ageing Agenda. To mark the beginning of the 2020-21 financial year, AAA asked the chief executive officers of aged care organisations about the year ahead. In the first part of this series, CEOs talk about their biggest concerns and hopes for 2020-21. While the coronavirus pandemic is front of all minds, not surprisingly, so is the ongoing struggle of making ends meet.

 

Other News

New compliance ratings for aged care homes to provide transparency for residents and families

According to The Donaldson Sisters, from 1 July this week, every Government-funded aged care home in Australia now has a Service Compliance Rating in the ‘Find a provider’ section of the Government’s aged care portal My Aged Care. What does this mean? When you search for an aged care home, the rating will appear under its name. They are designed to indicate whether a home has met its requirements for quality and safety with four categories:

  • Inadequate
  • Significant improvements needed
  • Some improvements needed
  • Meets requirements

If you click through on the compliance rating, you see how a home has performed over the last three years – including whether it has received any notices of non-compliance or sanctions in the past. The Service Compliance Rating provides an easy way to check the current status and how the home has performed over the last three years.

 

Regulatory Bulletin - RB 2020-11: Publication of provider performance

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission) undertakes a range of functions to determine whether aged care providers are delivering high quality care and services to aged care consumers. This Regulatory Bulletin details the information the Commission publishes about aged care service providers' performance in relation to their responsibilities under the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 (Commission Act) and the Aged Care Act 1997, or the Commonwealth funding agreement that relates to a service. This is an exposure draft to be reviewed in August 2020.

 

Retirement village reforms target exit entitlement payouts

According to The Senior, residents of retirement villages throughout NSW have welcomed government announced reforms which will see exit entitlements paid more quickly. The reforms were announced by NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, who said they would improve access to exit entitlements, create a new mechanism to support residents moving to aged care, and place a 42-day cap on the payment of recurrent charges for general services such as office management and gardening fees.

 

Indexation rates for Residential Aged Care and Home Care Packages and changes to the Maximum Permissible Interest Rate (MPIR)

According to The Department of Health, an update of the schedules for residential and home care fees and charges, as well as subsidies and supplements will take effect from 1 July 2020. This is in line with changes to the age pension and indexation rates. The new rates are now available on the department's website

The quarterly review of fees and charges conducted by Services Australia, for all care recipients will be effective from 1 July 2020. Care recipients and providers will receive letters letting them know if there is a change to a person's fees and charges or if a refund may be due.

Schedule of fees and charges

View the updated Schedule of Fees and Charges for:

  • residential and home care recipients who started care on or after 1 July 2014
  • aged care home residents who started care before 1 July 2014.

 

Study identifies dementia medication management barriers

According to Hospital and Healthcare, a study conducted by Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS) has identified barriers to effective medication management in people with dementia. The study investigated the obstacles and complexities in medication management for people living with dementia through qualitative research involving four key stakeholder groups: carers, general practitioners, nurses and pharmacists. The main barriers identified were:

  • poor communication and relationships between stakeholders;
  • infrequent medication reviews and a lack of practitioner training; and
  • evidence and guidelines to navigate prescribing and deprescribing decisions.

 

Special taxes, social insurance schemes canvassed for aged care

According to Community Care Review, a Medicare-style levy, a compulsory social insurance scheme and asset tested co-payments could all provide mechanisms to fund aged in the future, a discussion paper says. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety says the cost of aged care will continue to grow as a consequence of the ageing population and expectations of better quality services, and the aged care system will need additional funding to meet community standards and increase the number of home care packages.

 

Providers cutting frontline jobs in Queensland: union

According to Aged Care Insite, a number of Queensland aged care providers are cutting frontline staff via redundancies and demotions, the state’s nursing union has warned. Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) said cuts to staff and care hours were occurring across more than two dozen Blue Care facilities statewide as well as TriCare’s Mount Gravatt Aged Care Facility and Sunnybank Hills Aged Care Residence. It added TriCare was reducing the number of beds from 140 to 120. The union said it has requested urgent clarification and details from the providers regarding the number of jobs, hours and positions to be cut.

 

More than 1 in 10 beds empty: ACFA

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, residential aged care occupancy has fallen for the second year in a row to just below 90 per cent on average, the latest report from the Aged Care Financing Authority shows. ACFA’s Eighth report on the Funding and Financing of the Aged Care Sector found an occupancy rate of 89 per cent across all residential aged care places in 2018-19, down from 90 per cent the year before. This decline over the last two years follows a period of relative stability with occupancy close to or above 92 per cent between 2011-12 and 2017-18.

 

SA tech provider heads up CCTV trial

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a local electricity and security systems company has been appointed to lead South Australia’s state-run trial of a video monitoring system in residential aged care facilities. As part of the trial, technology partner Sturdie Trade Services will install closed circuit television (CCTV) equipment and provide a monitoring service at two SA Health operated facilities, the state’s Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade announced on Saturday. The technology partner was selected via a public tender process for its experience providing solutions-based security services across Australia and New Zealand.

 

Legislation

Medical and Midwife Indemnity Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (CTH) – fully commenced 1 July 2020

The Medical and Midwife Indemnity Legislation Amendment Act 2019 gives effect to the Government’s commitment in the 2018-19 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) to maintaining and improving the Indemnity Insurance Fund (IIF), supporting the long-term stability and affordability of medical indemnity premiums for medical practitioners, while ensuring health care quality, patient safety and the sustainability of the overall medical system.

The Act makes amendments to:

  • simplify the current legislative structure underpinning the Government’s support for medical indemnity insurance;
  • repeal redundant legislation;
  • remove the existing contract requirements for the Premium Support Scheme (PSS) and incorporate the necessary requirements in legislation;
  • require all medical indemnity insurers to provide universal cover to medical practitioners;
  • maintain support for high cost claims and exceptional claims made against allied health professionals and enable exceptional cost claims to be made, which is provided for in a separate scheme to medical practitioners;
  • support high cost claims and exceptional cost claims made against private sector employee midwives not covered under the MPIS;
  • clarify eligibility for the Run-off Cover Schemes (ROCS) and permit access for medical practitioners and eligible midwives retiring before the age of 65;
  • cause an actuarial assessment to report on the stability and affordability of Australia’s medical indemnity market, with the report to be laid before each House of Parliament; and
  • streamline reporting obligations and improve the capacity for monitoring and information sharing.

 

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.

 

3rd Aged Care Workforce Forum – Developing a Customer Centric Aged Care Workforce – 23 June -2 July Online

According to the Healthcare Channel, Akolade’s 3rd Aged Care Workforce Forum has been strategically developed to aid in building effective strategies to develop and grow an efficient workforce to drive service quality delivery in aged care. 2020, and the Royal Commission is upon the industry. Let’s walk through with thought leaders the questions on everyone’s mind; how can we meet these new standards?

 

3rd Aged Care Tech Forum – 23 June -2 July Online

According to the Healthcare Channel, as the population of Australia ages, aged care facilities are under mounting pressure to provide superior services to customers in an increasingly competitive market. Service providers that succeed in the future will be those agile enough to harness the possibilities of new technologies and rapidly scale in order to meet new customer demands and attract government support. Technology has transformed the banking, airline, hotel, taxi, phone, photography and music industries, and now aged care needs to be disrupted.

 

Centre for Dementia Learning – two online courses available free until 30 June 2020

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Centre for Dementia Learning is committed to supporting staff in aged care and the aged care industry. This month, they are offering free education to help workers respond to changed behaviours and problem-solve challenges.

 

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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