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.

Read Now

Weekly Wrap: 07 June 2020

All Posts

Weekly Wrap: 07 June 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 07 June 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

Complaints trends

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission continues to respond to all complaints and concerns received about aged care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission has seen a significant increase in complaints over recent months including complaints and concerns related to COVID-19 issues. Preliminary analysis of data indicates key issues raised associated with the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • visitor restrictions, including where they exceed jurisdictional legal directions
  • concerns about preparedness and prevention
  • impact on the quality of care
  • concerns about flu vaccinations
  • concerns about social isolation
  • concerns about possible confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • impact on staff numbers and safety.

In addition to continuing to work with aged care consumers and providers to resolve individual complaints, we are also using information provided through our complaints function to inform our proportionate risk-based regulatory approach to COVID-19.

 

Regulators learn to counsel more strongly when COVID hits

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, as the outbreak at Newmarch House reaches a new milestone of zero active cases, the Commonwealth health and aged care agencies say they have learnt to be more assertive with facilities when a new case is identified.

 

Unions blast government pay freeze for essential workers

According to Aged Care Insite, the NSW government is pushing ahead with plans to put a freeze on all public sector pay, including for nurses and other frontline workers. The freeze would scrap the planned 2.5 per cent wage increase and the Treasurer said this would amount to $3 billion in savings for the state, with the money going to increased public spending and more jobs. However, the move faced a hostile crossbench, with Labor and the Greens signifying intent to block the passing of any such bill. Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey on Monday said in a statement the one-off payment was tantamount to short-changing workers. While NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association described the one-off payment as “insulting” and an attempt to silence nurses and midwives.

 

Release of the Australian National Disease Surveillance 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 National Disease Surveillance Plan for COVID-19 forms part of the Australian Government’s Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19. It is also a supporting plan to the Pandemic Health Intelligence Plan, a framework for how we collect the information required to support decision making about COVID-19. The plan outlines the national approach for disease surveillance for COVID-19 - the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health-related data. Information that is collected through this plan helps inform public health measures for control of COVID-19 in Australia.

 

Information About the COVID-19 Aged Care Support 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.)

According to The Department of Health, the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program is a $52.9 million grant opportunity announced as part of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Health Package. The program will reimburse eligible aged care providers for eligible expenditure incurred on managing direct impacts of COVID-19 up to a maximum grant value per service. The intended outcomes of the program are:

  • Consumers of Aged Care Services directly impacted by COVID-19 experience safe quality care
  • The financial costs of managing direct impacts of COVID-19 are reduced for eligible Aged Care services.

For more information see the Government’s Grant Connect website.

 

Updates to the CDNA Guidelines for Public Health Units

(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 Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) guidelines for public health units have been updated to include a new section on outbreak investigation and management in high-risk settings, including residential aged care. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide nationally consistent advice and guidance to public health units in responding to a notifiable disease event. These guidelines capture the knowledge of experienced professionals, built on past research efforts, and provide advice on best practice based upon the best available evidence.

 

Outbreak management 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, the outbreak management training module for aged care workers has been updated in accordance with the latest information from the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA). Aged care workers are encourage to complete this updated training. The training takes approximately 8 minutes to complete, and by the end of the module participants will be able to:

  • Identify what a COVID-19 outbreak is
  • Demonstrate the appropriate infection prevention control measures for a COVID-19 outbreak
  • Explain how to isolate and cohort residents during a COVID-19 outbreak
  • Identify appropriate cleaning and waste disposal procedures during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Access the Aged Care training modules here.

 

Other News

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. From July 2020, every Commonwealth subsidised residential aged care service will have a Service Compliance Rating in the ‘Find a Provider’ section of the My Aged Care website. The rating will allow consumers to access and compare easy-to-understand information on the quality of residential aged care services, supporting more informed decision-making.

 

Tech vendors flood aged care market

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a research project looking at technology in aged care has been “overwhelmed” by the huge number of new vendors in the market, a forum has heard. The Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC), which launched Australia’s first aged care technology roadmap in 2017, has been funded by the federal government to evaluate the sector’s technology capabilities and readiness.

 

Reports pitch pathways to future aged care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, an industry report is calling for a refresh of the 2016 aged care roadmap and a phased approach to transformation with changing funding arrangements along the way to drive change and stimulate reform, investment and sustainability. The report, A model for transformation and governance, from aged care advisors Grant Thornton also highlights the tensions over whether a free-market model is the right approach. It is informed by discussions and differing views of aged care provider executives who took part in a workshop in March and subsequent consultations.

 

Aged care registration scheme: Minister releases consultation paper

According to Aged Care Insite, the Minister for Aged Care is seeking feedback on a proposed registration scheme for aged care workers. Richard Colbeck announced on Friday that the public consultation paper brought the sector one step closer to ensuring all staff are suitable to work with senior and vulnerable Australians. Such a register was recommended by the royal commission and the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce’s 2018 report. Feedback can be provided via an online survey until 29 June. Colbeck’s office said a scheme may be introduced in stages, with full implementation possible in 2022.

 

Update on the Specialist Dementia Care Program

According to The Department of Health, the Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) supports people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia who cannot be cared for in a mainstream aged care facility. Under the SDCP, a prototype unit began operation in Inglewood, Perth in September 2019. As a result of the SDCP’s first funding round a further nine units are opening between January and July 2020. These units are in eight Primary Health Network regions. Referrals can now be made via the online form on the Dementia Support Australia website to the SDCP units in:

  • Adelaide (Felixstowe)
  • Australian Capital Territory (Weston)
  • Brisbane North (Taigum)
  • Brisbane South (Upper Mt Gravatt)
  • Hunter New England and Central Coast (Cardiff)
  • North Queensland (Mackay)
  • Perth North (Inglewood)
  • South Eastern Melbourne (Caulfield).

 

New free online therapy for aged care residents and staff

According to Aged Care Insite, Swinburne University’s Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults has launched a free national telehealth counselling and support service aimed at supporting older Aussies living in residential aged care. Launched earlier this month, the service is available nationwide and available to aged care residents and their families as well as aged care workers.

 

Antibiotic use in aged care rising

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a first of its kind Australian study has found substantial increases in both the prevalence of use and total consumption of antibiotics in residential aged care over 10 years. The project highlights the need for enhanced efforts to optimise antibiotic use in aged care homes, the researchers from the Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute found. Lead author Dr Janet Sluggett said the national study was a first in Australia and filled a gap in knowledge about aged care residents’ antibiotic use.

 

Legislation

Aged Care (Leave from Residential Care Services) (Situation of Emergency—Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Determination 2020 (Cth)

This instrument declares the current COVID-19 pandemic as a situation of emergency for the purposes of subsection 42-2A(1) of the Aged Care Act 1997. Under this Determination, emergency leave will be available to permanent aged care residents across Australia from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

For more information see ACE article: New Emergency Leave Entitlements for Aged Care Residents: What This Means for Providers

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

Free Webinar: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Stronger Futures: Perspectives on strategies and planning – tools for stopping abuse – Monday 15 June 2020, 11.00am – 11.45am AEST

According to Senior Rights Service, as awareness of abuse becomes more widespread, this conversation turns to what is next and what works in the prevention of, and response to, abuse of older Australians. During this webinar, our expert panellists will be hosting a discussion around various perspectives on strategies, planning and tools for preventing elder abuse.

 

Free Webinar: Planning for Aged Care in a Changing World – Thursday 11 June 2020, 11.00am-12.00pm AEST

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, strategic financial and operational planning is crucial for Aged Care providers now more than ever. In these unprecedented times, many Aged Care providers are under immense pressure to quickly pivot and change their business plans and strategic forecasts to keep up. In this session, you will hear from Rohling International and Workday to learn how to:

  • Increase your finance team's efficiency, reduce your planning cycle times by up to 70 percent, and greatly increase the effectiveness of forecasting and 'what if' scenario planning
  • Run multiple Cash Flow Forecasting scenarios (Facility RAD portfolio planning, CAPEX Spending)
  • Optimise your Revenue planning and control (ACFI, Resident Funded Profiles, Occupancy, Government Funding Income Optimisation strategies)
  • Improve your Expense planning and control (Workforce Optimisation, Catering, Allied Health, and more).

 

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.

 

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.

Related Posts

Subscribe