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Weekly Wrap: 1 December 2019

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Weekly Wrap: 1 December 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 1 December 2019.

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.

Govt commits $35m to reduce chemical restraint

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Federal Government has announced new medication management and education initiatives to reduce chemical restraint in aged care as part of a $500 million-plus response to the royal commission’s interim report. The package includes $25.5 million for aged care medication management programs including more frequent medication reviews to reduce the use of chemical restraint plus an additional $10 million to increase dementia training and support for aged care workers. The government is also providing restrictions on repeat prescriptions of risperidone from next year, new education resources for prescribers of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines and targeted letters for high prescribers.

Report calls for professionalisation of care workers

According to Community Care Review, formal registration of aged care workers under the National Registration Accreditation Scheme could help improve working conditions in the sector, a report says. The Improving the health of older aged care workers study, by the University of Melbourne of the Brotherhood of St Laurence found an “imbalance” between the interests of service providers and those employed to give care, a third of whom also had informal care responsibilities. “This imbalance has had unintended social and economic consequences, including compromises in the quality of care and in the longevity of the workforce,” the report says. The researchers propose wage increases, penalty rates, minimum shift hours, minimum contract hours and paid transit between sites to improve employment conditions and the wellbeing of workers.  But they also recommend increasing the professionalism of carers “shifting the demarcations between professional and unskilled work”, which they argue can improve the quality of care and also make the roles performed by older workers more sustainable. Registration would boost the professional status of aged care workers, the report says.

PM’s $537m funding announcement: sector reaction

According to Aged Care Insite, the funding is needed but there’s much more to do. That’s the general consensus among aged care groups and representative bodies in the fallout of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of $537 million for aged care. The bulk of the money was dedicated to 10,000 home care packages, medication management programs and new targets for getting young people out of residential aged care. While COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates applauded the home care funding, he said a plan to urgently reduce home care waiting times was still missing from the equation. Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe welcomed the government’s steps toward reducing the use of chemical restraint. The Young People in Nursing Homes Alliance applauded the government for its new targets that would see no younger person enter residential aged care by 2022 and no one under 65 years in aged care by 2025. Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA), the Australian Nursing and Midwifery federation (ANMF) and the United Workers Union expressed disappointment at the lack of broader funding in the Prime Minister’s proposal.

The 2018 Aged Care National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey: results show room for improvement

According to NPS Medicinewise, the annual Aged Care National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey aims to identify local and national prescribing issues and guide antimicrobial stewardship goals. In the 2018 point prevalence survey, medication charts of over 20,000 residents were reviewed from 407 participating facilities across Australia. On the day of the survey, almost 10% of residents were prescribed an antimicrobial. Nearly two-thirds of recently prescribed antimicrobials were for residents who had no documented signs or symptoms of infection. Over a quarter of antimicrobials had been prescribed for longer than six months. Incomplete documentation was a prominent barrier to proper review of antimicrobial therapy, with the indication, review date or stop date not documented for many prescriptions. Recommendations include using appropriate microbiological testing to guide prescribing, following national antimicrobial prescribing guidelines, documenting the indication for the antimicrobial, and its start, stop and review dates, and monitoring and re-evaluating long-term antimicrobial use.

Health Transparency Bill passes in Queensland

According to Aged Care Guide, a new standard of transparency for Queensland's private and public health and aged care facilities has been set with the passing of the Health Transparency Bill 2019 in Queensland Government last week. All public health and aged care facilities are affected by the new Bill, while private organisations can opt in if they want to, however, it will be publicly disclosed if they decide to not participate with the new Bill. The Bill requires residential aged care facilities to report their average daily resident care hours quarterly. Private residential aged care facilities do not have to provide this information, but that decision will be highlighted by their name on the new website. Another key component of the Bill requires Queensland Health’s residential aged care facilities to have a minimum nurse mix of 50 percent, with 30 percent of the total care staff to be Registered Nurses. All residential aged care facilities under the new Queensland Bill must provide a minimum average of 3.64 hours of nursing and personal care to residents daily.

Provider CEOs share views on interim report

Aged care organisations are aiming to better engage consumers, respond to the royal commission’s findings as they are published and reflect on their own organisation from now until the final report is released, provider chief executives tell Australian Ageing Agenda.

Half a billion for home care in govt response to interim report

According to Community Care Review, the federal government will roll out 10,000 new home care packages from next month in response to the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also pledged to provide a single assessment network and to meld HCP and CHSP to create a unified home care system, although he did not commit to a time frame.

Reports of aged care assaults rise 40 per cent

According to Aged Care Insite, notifications of assaults in residential aged care have spiked almost 40 per cent, according health authorities. The federal health department received 5233 notifications of assaults in residential aged care over the past year, a 39 per cent rise from 3773 the previous year. A report on the operation of federal aged care laws tabled in parliament on Wednesday found 4443 of the assault reports were alleged or suspected unreasonable use of force, with 739 alleged or suspected unlawful sexual contact, and 51 as both.

Sexual assault of older female nursing home residents, in Victoria Australia

According to Residential Aged Care Communiqué, new research suggests under-recognition and under-reporting of sexual assaults on residents in nursing homes. The research highlights how vital it is that staff are aware of the existence of sexual assault within aged care facilities. It is easy to remain ignorant to this issue because in most case there is an absence of (a) obvious signs of sexual assault, (b) a “credible” victim, and (c) a witness.

ACFI downgrades, sanctions increase

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care regulator downgraded more than two in five residential aged care funding claims audited last financial year, the government’s annual aged care report shows. The Department of Health conducted 6,600 reviews of Aged Care Funding Instrument claims in 2018–19, down from 10,318 reviews in 2016-17. Of the latest reviews, 2,854 resulted in funding reductions (43.2 per cent) and 21 resulted in a funding increase (0.3 per cent), according to the 2018-19 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act released on Wednesday.

Providers encouraged to recruit more outsiders

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care sector needs to attract people from other industries to help meet the demand for workers, a provider will tell an upcoming industry conference on workforce. NSW and ACT aged care provider Uniting recruitment lead Garth Quinn said aged care workforce recruitment was an industry-wide problem that the sector needed to approach it differently. “If we keep pinching from each other, that’s not going to solve the problem,” Mr Quinn told Australian Ageing Agenda. Data from employment platform Seek shows 65 per cent of people who applied for aged care roles in the last 12 months also applied for jobs in other industries, said Mr Quinn ahead of his presentation at next week’s Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce conference.

Seniors take ‘out of touch’ treasurer to task over older worker push

According to The Senior, a treasurer who is "out of touch with reality". This was the overwhelming response from readers of The Senior to Josh Frydenberg's suggestion older Australians work longer to help the economy's bottom line. The Treasurer is concerned the ageing population is an economic time bomb. He has called for a boost in workplace participation rates for the over 65s and wants them to retrain so they can stay engaged in work for longer. t's a view which resulted in a mix of outrage, hilarity and despair from many of our readers."Where are the jobs?" they asked on The Senior's Facebook page and in calls to the newsroom.

Global warming's threat to health

According to Hospital and Healthcare, Monash University researchers warn that global warming is likely to increase illnesses caused by undernutrition, due to the effects of heat exposure. It is well documented that global temperature rises will indirectly result in more undernourished people through threatened crop production and increased food insecurity, but what about the short-term and direct impact of heat exposure on undernutrition? The researchers found that the association between increased heat and hospitalisation for undernutrition was greatest for individuals aged over 80 years and those aged 5–19 years, with 15.6% of undernutrition hospitalisations attributed to heat exposure during the study period.

Rates of paracetamol overdose continue to rise in Australia

According to NPS Medicinewise, paracetamol is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter analgesics in Australia. Although health professionals may assume that patients know how to use paracetamol, overdose rates continue to rise. Public misunderstanding about the safety of paracetamol is contributing to misuse and accidental overdose. Easy access to large quantities of paracetamol may also be contributing to intentional overdose.


Health Transparency Bill 2019 (QLD) – Bill passed 28.11.19

The Bill:

  • establishes a legislative framework for collecting and publishing information about public and private hospitals and residential aged cared facilities (RACFs)
  • amends the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 to introduce a minimum nurse and support worker skill mix ratio and minimum average daily resident care hours in public RACFs; and
  • amends the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 to implement recommendations of the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Committee’s Inquiry into the performance of the Health Ombudsman’s functions pursuant to section 179 of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013.

Quality of Care Amendment (Reviewing Restraints Principles) Principles 2019 (Cth) – instrument registered 25.11.19

This instrument amends the Quality of Care Principles 2014 to provide that the Minister must ensure that there is a review of the operation of the Quality of Care Principles, relating to physical and chemical restraint.

Resources and Upcoming Events

2018-19 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997

According to the Department of Health, the 2018-19 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997 is now available from the GEN Aged Care Data website. The report details the operation of Australia’s aged care system during the 2018–19 financial year and provides a snapshot of the system as a whole. It is delivered to Parliament each year by the Minister in accordance with section 63-2 of the Aged Care Act 1997.

Material change form revision and key personnel

On 28 October 2019, the Department of Health updated the Notification of a Material Change Form. This update:

  • removed the direction not to report key personnel
  • added fields to collect third party information
  • updated existing fields to make them more specific
  • revised the privacy notice.

From late 2016, the department advised that key personnel did not generally need to be reported (except in relation to disqualified individuals). The department now considers that changes in key personnel may be material to a provider’s suitability and as a result will need to be reported.

The department is now seeking updates of key personnel information to ensure records are accurate in relation to the current state for approved providers. Providers are encouraged to review their circumstances, including arrangements with third party organisations, and notify the department where they consider it is a material change to previous operations.

Workforce Submissions – due by 6 December 2019

Following the third Melbourne hearing, which focused on workforce issues, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is seeking written submissions on policy issues relating to a number of workforce issues, including staffing levels, registration schemes for non-clinical staff, remuneration and working conditions, training and governance.

To make a submission follow the link above to the Commission’s website.

Online claiming for Aged Care providers is changing

The Department of Human Services is developing a new Aged Care Provider Portal. The new portal will be a secure place for aged care providers to access our online services and make claims for aged care subsidies and supplements. It will eventually replace two current systems – Aged Care Online Services for Home Care and the Aged Care Online Claiming System for Residential Care. The portal will be similar to the current portals but with some improved features to make it easier to use. The new portal will also introduce a more secure authentication and log in method using Provider Digital Access (PRODA). To access the new portal individuals will need to sign up for PRODA. If your users don’t already have a PRODA account, they should register for one now in preparation. The Department will let you know when it’s time to switch over to the new Aged Care Provider Portal.

Material change form update

The Department of Health has made updates to the material change form to make it clearer what information you need to provide when submitting a change, including in relation to third parties. Approved providers are required to notify any change of circumstance that materially affects their suitability to be a provider of aged care within 28 days of the change occurring. For example, if the approved provider is unable to manage its financial responsibilities or goes into external administration, makes substantial changes to its organisational or governance structure or has a change in key personnel. The form is now available on the department’s website.

Summary page in the My Aged Care portals

According to The Department of Health, the new and improved Client Summary page is available on the My Aged Care portals and now includes a tracker for each client’s journey. This is available to all providers, assessors and clients using the portals. For providers and assessors, the tracker means you will be able to quickly see what stage a client is at in their journey.

Accounting and Business Advisory Services now available

According to The Department of Health, residential and home care service providers can now apply for free independent business advisory services to help them review their operations and provide advice on business management and financial strategies. The services are intended to target providers at risk from financial stress such as providers operating in rural and remote locations and smaller providers. PricewaterhouseCoopers will deliver the independent advisory services with services available until 30 June 2021. Service providers can apply to access the business advisory via The Department of Health’s website.

New Aged Care Means Assessment Forms

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released the new Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care (SA486) digital form. Your clients can fill it in online, print and sign it and send it to DHS with their supporting documents. The digital form uses dynamic questions tailored to the customers’ individual circumstances.

Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce – 3-5 December 2019, Melbourne

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, after two successful events in Sydney, the Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce conference will be taking place on the 3rd - 5th December 2019 in Melbourne for the first time. Designed in partnership with COTA Australia & ACSA, this conference will bring together industry leaders to discuss how service providers can train, support and guide their workforce through the changes taking place in this sector.

Online survey open: National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program – open until 5 December 2019

The Department of Health has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to help develop two new quality indicators (QIs):

  • falls and fractures
  • medication management.

Aged care providers, consumers and their representatives, experts and peak bodies are all invited to complete the online survey about the two new QIs, as well as providing feedback on the existing indicators: pressure injuries, use of physical restraint and unplanned weight loss.

The online survey is open until 5 December 2019.

Clinical Care and Quality in Home Care Seminar – Thursday 5 December 2019, Sydney

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, this seminar will provide attendees with practical, easy to implement ideas and strategies in their workplace in the area of clinical care provision. This seminar will provide you with many resources and tools. There will be industry expert speakers to provide additional advice and experience. There will be a strong focus on what EVIDENCE might be required during an audit by the ACQSC assessors. A USB with extensive resources will be provided to all attendees. Target audience: Managers, Quality Officers, Co-ordinators, Case Managers, Care Managers, Registered Nurses, New Providers.

OPAN Event: Understanding the New Charter of Aged Care Rights – Tasmania 9 and 10 December 2019

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is hosting a free interactive educational event in Tasmania for consumers, carers and families, and providers. It covers key information on the rights in the Charter and its benefits, implementation requirements and implementing the Charter in Home Care and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. The event is on in Devonport at 2pm 9 December and Launceston at 10.30am on 10 December.

Dementia as a Disability Webinar – 12 December 2019, 1.00pm-2.00pm AEDT

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, this webinar will discuss dementia as a disability, the impact of the Royal Commission and the escalating call for change.

Provide feedback on proposals to clarify additional service fee arrangements in residential aged care – submissions due by 17 December 2019

The Department of Health is seeking written submissions responding to its consultation paper on proposed measures to improve clarity around additional service fees charged in residential aged care homes by 17 December 2019. Follow the link to see options for how you can have your say.

Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit – 17-20 February 2020, Sydney

Criterion Conferences would like to personally invite you to the Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit taking place from the 17th-20th February 2020. This is your chance to gain real advice from real healthcare leaders to learn not only how to survive in the industry, but truly thrive as a leader.

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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