Residential Aged Care Assessments: What to Expect in 2021

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) recently released its Sector Performance Report for the period July to September 2020.

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Weekly Wrap: 06 December 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 06 December 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 06 December 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

IPC Lead Reporting Now Available

(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, Residential Aged Care Providers can now report their Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) leads in the My Aged Care Provider Portal.

An Aged Care Organisation Administrator or an Outlet Administrator can assign, update and view the IPC Lead Contact from the Outlet page. Administrators must obtain and make a record of consent obtained from the IPC Lead to submit their details. Further guidance on how to use the reporting functionality is available in the My Aged Care – Provider Portal User Guide: Part 2 Team Leader and Staff Member Functions.

If your facility is a NATSIFAC service then different reporting arrangements apply, please see the reporting form for NATSIFAC providers.

The Department has received several queries regarding the need to have an onsite, dedicated IPC lead for each facility. To provide further clarity around these issues we note the following:

The individual must work from the facility location. The role cannot be filled by an individual working remotely and visiting the location to conduct IPC reviews.

An individual can only be the IPC lead for one facility. They can continue to perform shifts at other locations in their normal nursing capacity.

There is no set requirement regarding the hours of work or FTE of an IPC lead. The role is expected to vary based on factors such as service size and offering, the IPC lead’s other duties and the extent to which IPC duties are driven by the IPC lead or with the support of others.

IPC lead shifts do not have to be solely focused on IPC work, although providers may choose to have this arrangement.

Further information on the IPC Lead requirement is available on the Department's website.

 

Government’s response to the Royal Commission’s Progress Report and the updated National COVID-19 Aged Care Plan

(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 accepted and has acted on all six recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on COVID-19 as previously announced in October 2020.

The Australian Government’s response to these recommendations was tabled in Parliament yesterday, ahead of the 1 December deadline. The Implementation Progress Report on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report – Aged Care and COVID-19 – a special report is available on the Department of Health’s website.

In conjunction with the tabling of the report, the Government announced it is investing a further $132.2 million to respond to the Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations on COVID-19. This funding package includes new measures to support access to mental and allied health services through the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) and support for Infection Prevention and Control training within residential aged care facilities.

In response to recommendation four of the Royal Commission’s report, the Government has updated the National COVID-19 Aged Care Plan (National Plan) to its seventh edition. The revised plan builds on the critical and successful work already undertaken by the Commonwealth Government and allows flexibility to manage individual situations in each state and territory.

The Government will continue to work closely with aged care providers and all states and territories to ensure the ongoing safety and care of senior Australians.

 

Updated outbreak management planning for aged care

(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 Commission has released a new resource on Outbreak management planning in aged care. This resource provides practical guidance to assist residential aged care providers to support their workers, care recipients, families and visitors to prevent, prepare for and manage outbreaks of COVID-19.

The Commission will host a webinar on the new outbreak management planning resource on Thursday 10 December 2020. Further information about the webinar will be made available shortly.

 

Virtual ACFI reviews

(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 is now undertaking ACFI reviews from its offices until further notice. This removes any risk of COVID-19 transmission during departmental staff visits.

The Department has had queries about pain management assessments to support claims under ACFI question 12.4 (b). Details can be found on the Department’s website.

 

Updated Directions for Victoria

(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, Victorian RACFs are strongly encouraged to welcome visitors back and provide freedom of movement for residents in a proactive and safe way. Connecting with family and friends, accessing facility common areas and attending appointments are essential activities to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of residents.

There are now no limits on the number, reason or duration of visits. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued updated guidance for facilities and visitors, including a factsheet on visitors in residential aged care. Providers are urged to offer residents comfortable visiting areas outdoors, and are reminded to ensure they manage their COVIDSafe planning and correct use of masks and hand hygiene.

DHHS has also moved to a risk-based approach for PPE requirements, updating Directions for the use of PPE for aged care workers, consistent with guidelines reviewed and endorsed by the AHPPC and Infection Control Expert Group.

Eye protection (face shield or goggles) is not currently required unless you are:

  • caring for a resident who is classified as a close contact and is in quarantine
  • caring for a resident who is in isolation with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

SACWIC grants still open

(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, a reminder that the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) grant, funded by the Australian Government, is open until 30 June 2021. Providers can submit applications for the reimbursement of expenses incurred during the period 15 July 2020 to 30 November 2020.

The SACWIC opened on 4 August 2020 to support providers in the Melbourne and Mitchell Shire designated hotspots, who adopted the 'Guiding Principles for residential aged care – keeping Victorian residents and workers safe' (the Principles).

The activity period for the grant ended on 30 November 2020 in line with the end of single site workforce arrangements for privately run residential aged care facilities under the Principles.

Public Sector facilities in Victoria are continuing single site arrangements until February 2021, as funded by DHHS. Other supports are available:

The Support Hub is available for Victorian providers interested in voluntarily reducing workforce mobility on an ongoing basis, recognising the financial and workplace relations impacts of doing so. Visit the site or (free call) 1800 491 793.

Counselling support (until December 30) for workers and managers affected by the change in working arrangements (free call) 1800 687 327 (free call) or visit Converge International. Please state that you are from the "VIC Residential Aged Care Workforce" when booking.

 

Updated South Australian guidance

(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 South Australian Government has issued a new direction, Emergency Management Residential Aged Care Facilities No 16 (COVID-19).

Key changes in this Direction include:

 

Facemasks

Everyone onsite in a RACF (excluding residents and children under 12 years) must wear a face mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other people. However, the requirement for this to specifically be a single use surgical mask has been removed (a surgical mask still needs to be worn by staff as part of standard and transmission-based precautions, however, other people on site now have the option to wear a cloth mask, if appropriate).

In addition, the Direction now sets out the circumstances in which masks do not need to be worn:

  • if the wearing of a mask will hinder the provision of the relevant care and/or impact resident safety or wellbeing
  • by a person who is affected by a relevant medical condition, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition
  • in circumstances where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, such as to enable communication by or with any person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Visitor register

All RACFs must maintain a register at point of entry in which all visitors, volunteers, visiting healthcare professionals and contractors record their name, telephone number, date and time of the visit and departure, and resident/area of the RACF visited.

Whilst not compulsory, these register requirements could be satisfied by the use of an approved contact tracing system, being the COVIDSAfeCheckIn, ScanTek or any other electronic platform approved by the State-Coordinator for the purpose of capturing relevant contact details (including the use of a QR code provided by the State Government).

 

RACF definition

The definition of a RACF has been clarified to include the aged care portion of a Multi-purpose Service (MPS) and regional hospitals providing State funded residential aged care beds.

 

Webinar reminder - visitor access and resident movement

Join the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) and the Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) for a discussion on mitigating risk to enable visitor access and facilitate aged care residents’ movement, and stress testing COVID-19 outbreak plans. These free webinars have been developed for all Australian aged care staff responsible for implementing operational requirements.

Friday 4 December, 1-1:45pm AEDT - Visitor access and resident movement webinar

Friday 11 December, 1-1:45pm AEDT - Stress testing your COVID-19 outbreak plan webinar

 

Other News

Bill establishing the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) introduced into Parliament

(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, on 2 December 2020 the Government introduced the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme and Other Measures) Bill 2020 into Parliament.

Successful passage of the Bill will enable the SIRS in residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting to start from 1 April 2021. The SIRS forms part of the Government's response to the Aged care Royal Commission recommendations into COVID-19 and aims to increase protection for aged care residents.

Find more information in the media release issued by the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, or on the department's website.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will shortly provide the sector with information and education to ensure aged care providers are ready for the SIRS start date.

 

New regulatory arrangements for aged care providers from 1 December 2020

(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 Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Brendan Murphy, has written a letter to all residential aged care providers and Multi-Purpose Services (MPS), who provide permanent residential aged care.

The letter includes:

  • information on new regulatory arrangements for residential aged care providers and MPS, who provide permanent residential aged care to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, from 1 December 2020
  • information on existing obligations for providers under the Aged Care Act 1997
  • details of supports for providers to help them understand the new NDIS obligations.

To find out more about the new regulatory arrangements:

Report calls for $1 billion ‘rescue fund’ to lift quality

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, it will cost the Federal Government an additional $7 billion a year to revamp the aged care system to ensure all older Australians receive the support they need to remain active, independent and engaged, according to a new report. Independent think tank the Grattan Institute has proposed Australia move to a new rights-based model of aged care because the current approach “is a mess and is not fit for purpose.”

 

RC’s primary care model hinders continuity of care, doctors say

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, Counsel Assisting’s final recommendations to the royal commission for a new primary care model may lead to further fragmentation of care for aged care residents, the peak body representing doctors says. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety heard Counsel Assisting propose 124 recommendations to overhaul 18 aspects of the aged care system including health and primary care at a two-day hearing in October. Among them they call for the establishment of a new model where general practices voluntarily apply to become accredited for aged care with each accredited GP required to enrol residents who choose to be with that practice (recommendation 62). Counsel Assisting found that while almost everyone in aged care sees a GP, it remains unclear whether the services meet residents’ needs.

 

Government stages last minute response to royal commission, new funding ‘too little, too late’

According to Aged Care Insite, the government has finally announced its response to the Aged Care Royal Commission special COVID-19 recommendations, accepting all six and adding $132.2 million to the aged care coffers. Two months ago the commission released its Aged Care and COVID-19 report, urging government action on four areas relating to funding, staffing and infection control across the sector. The report handed down six recommendations in all, the first being that the government respond to the report in parliament and implement these changes no later than December 1. The response came after 6pm on November 30.

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bulletin – November 2020

This edition of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s Bulletin covers:

  • Be aware of the risks of sun exposure when caring for older people
  • Outbreak management planning resource
  • Compulsory Reporting Webforms live on Commission website
  • Serious Incident Response Scheme to commence in 2021
  • COVID‐19 in a Sydney nursing home: a case study and lessons learned
  • COVID‐19 in a Sydney nursing home: a case study and lessons learned
  • Improving meals, nutrition and the dining experience
  • New Alis Module: Clinical Governance

 

Survey on the surge workforce program

(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 will shortly be conducting a survey seeking feedback from COVID-19 affected aged care services that utilised the surge workforce program since commencement in April 2020.

This is a lesson learning exercise and feedback provided will be used to improve future surge workforce strategy and deployments to best meet the needs of providers and their residents.

The Department will contact relevant aged care services directly with information on how to access the survey.

 

2020 Aged Care Workforce Census

(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, has engaged Forms Administration to conduct the next census of aged care providers to track the sector’s workforce. Residential, Home Care and Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers across Australia will be contacted from 7 December 2020 to participate in the census.

The 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census is about building an evidence base for the aged care system that works for industry, for the workforce, and most importantly, our older Australians.

The aims of the census are to:

  • Give aged care providers, the Australian Government, researchers and the community a clearer picture of the current make-up of the aged care workforce
  • Update data from the last census in 2016 to inform future policy and decisions
  • Allow providers to compare their personnel’s characteristics (including age, working arrangements, education and training) against the broader aged care sector to inform workforce planning.

A skilled and professional aged care workforce is critical to providing quality care to older Australians. We encourage providers to participate so that the Government will have access to reliable up-to-date data when considering reforms to the sector, including in response to the Royal Commission’s report.

The reference period for the census will be the last fortnight in November 2020.

We recommend completing the census prior to Christmas, however it will be open for submissions until 15 January 2020. An analysis of the census results will be made publicly available in 2021.

For further information or assistance contact health@formsadministration.com.au or phone (02) 4403 0640.

 

Legislation

Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 (No. 107 of 2020) (SA) – a private member’s Bill introduced to Assembly and Council 2 December 2020

A Bill for an Act to provide for and regulate access to voluntary assisted dying, to establish the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, to make related amendments to other Acts, and for other purposes.

 

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme and Other Measures) Bill 2020 (Cth) – introduced 2 December 2020

This Bill amends the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 to introduce a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting.

The SIRS introduced by the Bill is similar to the incident management and disclosure protection scheme added to the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 in 2017, with amendments to address specific needs of aged care.

The SIRS will replace current responsibilities of approved providers of residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting (approved provider) in relation to reportable assaults and unexplained absences in the Aged Care Act. The Bill will require approved providers to manage incidents and take reasonable steps to prevent incidents, including through implementing and maintaining effective organisation-wide governance systems for management and reporting of incidents of abuse and neglect.

The Bill will also require approved providers of residential care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting to report all serious incidents to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The Bill will also strengthen protections for people who disclose incidents of abuse or neglect in aged care.

The Bill will also expand the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s (Commission’s) powers to enforce the requirements of the SIRS and the responsibilities of approved providers and related offences more generally.

 

Guardianship and Administration and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (No. 9 of 2019) (QLD) – commenced 30 November 2020

One of the objectives of the Act is 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.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

Effective Management of Subcontractors in Home Care: 15th December 2020 1pm - 4:30pm AEDT

According to Australian Ageing Agenda: Join Lucille Scomazzon, Partner and Sector Leader, Healthcare from the Maddocks Legal team, as well as industry experts Lorraine Poulos and Jeremy McAuliffe at our on-line event.

 

Assessing the Standards – new workshops 

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the Commission has scheduled a new round of our “Assessing the Standards” online workshops, running throughout October. Through active participation in this online workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the principles that inform the Commission's approach to performance assessment
  • Understand and describe how they and other staff contribute to the achievement of quality outcomes for consumers
  • Use the self-assessment tool to gather and analyse information to evidence performance against the Quality Standards and/or identify opportunities for improvement
  • Contribute effectively to their organisation’s continuous improvement systems

Visit our website to find out more about the workshops and to register.

 

Webinar series: Changes to regulatory arrangements for residential aged care providers supporting NDIS participants from 1 December 2020

According to the Department of Health, Residential Aged Care (RAC) providers supporting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants will need to be registered* with the NDIS Commission from 1 December 2020. This also applies to RAC providers who start supporting NDIS participants after 1 December 2020. *Note that registration will be automatic for RAC providers with NDIS participants as at 1 December 2020.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is currently delivering a series of webinars to help RAC providers with the transition and to understand their responsibilities.

 

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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