New Serious Incident Response Scheme: what we know so far about aged care providers’ obligations

A new Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) is scheduled to be in force by July 2021. Here’s what we know and how you can prepare.

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Weekly Wrap: 12 January 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 12 January 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 12 January 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.

Quality regulator becomes aged care’s one-stop shop

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is now the single regulator of aged care services and the primary point of contact for aged care providers and consumers for quality and safety matters. Recently passed aged care legislation amendments, which took effect on 1 January this year, see the following functions transitioned from the Department of Health to the quality and safety commission:

  • approval of all residential and home care providers
  • aged care compliance activity including prudential operations
  • the administration of compulsory reporting of assaults by approved providers.

Half of Australia’s aged care homes now in the red

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the amount of aged care homes operating at a loss has tipped over 50 per cent for the first time, StewartBrown’s latest report on the financial performance of the sector finds. The latest data from accounting and benchmarking firm StewartBrown released last week shows that 51 per cent of the 984 residential aged care homes surveyed recorded an operating loss (negative earnings before tax) for the quarter ending September 2019. This is up from 41 per cent of homes for the same period in 2018 and 34 per cent of homes in September 2017, StewartBrown’s September 2019 Aged Care Financial Performance Survey shows. More than a quarter of homes also recorded a cash loss (negative earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, amortisation and rent) for the September 2019 quarter (27 per cent), up from 19 per cent of homes for the same period the previous year.

Slight improvement on home care queue

According to Community Care Review, more than 110,000 older people are still waiting to receive the home care package they have been approved for, a new report shows. The Home Care Packages Program Data Report, released by the government just before Christmas, covers the period from 1 July to 30 September 2019. It revealed that 112,237 people were still on the waiting list for their approved home care package. Close to 50,000 of those waiting are receiving a lower level interim home care package. Almost all of the remaining 62,000 people without any package have been referred to Commonwealth Home Support Services, the report said. The number of people waiting for their approved home care package is down from 119,524 in the previous quarter.

Fears for future of community-based aged care model

According to the Cairns Post, a former Mulgrave Shire councillor passionate about the not-for-profit aged model holds grave concerns for the future of community-based care if urgent funding is not made available. Compliance with new Aged Care Quality Standards, introduced last year, has up to 200 aged care facilities across the country haemorrhaging limited cash reserves. Stan Marsh was the original secretary of the Pyramid Residential Care Centre (PRCC) at Gordonvale in the early 1980s. Now, at the age of 82, he is a resident of the facility. He fears the loss of a connection between the residents and the community if a government bailout package is not forthcoming. “It’s a bit of a worry,” he said. “The care that we get now could be jeopardised. We get excellent care here in Gordonvale. The staff here are more dedicated than they are in the big places and we don’t want to give up some of the nice things they do for us. I would like to see more money given to various homes but they keep changing the bloody goalposts.”

Program breaks down barriers to accessing NDIS

According to Community Care Review, a community program is helping families from Chinese backgrounds to better navigate the national disability system by providing them with a support network and easy access to information. Research conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales found the program had enhanced participants’ knowledge about the National Disability Insurance Scheme after its first stage. The Community Access Network (CAN) was started by St Vincent de Paul Society NSW (SVDPNSW) in 2018 to support families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It targets four language groups including Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Are you listening to your clients and staff?

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, complaints best-practice research tells us that organisations need more than just fit-for-purpose policies and processes to be successful. Effective complaints management depends on employees’ attitudes and the leadership behaviour demonstrated by their managers. With consumer complaints and feedback under the spotlight of both royal commission hearings and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, it’s time to take an honest look at how your organisation and people behave when faced with complaints and feedback.


Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Act 2019 (Cth) – Act commenced 1 January 2020

The purpose of the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Act 2019 is to transfer additional aged care regulatory functions of the Secretary of the Department of Health to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. This reform completes the two-year agenda to strengthen and enhance aged care regulation to protect and assure the quality of care provided to consumers of Australian Government funded aged care. It delivers on the intention as set out in the objects of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018.

Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019 (Cth) – submissions on latest draft Bill close 31.01.20

Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019 (Cth) – submissions on the second exposure draft and explanatory materials close 31.01.2020

On 13 December 2018, the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General released the Report of the Religious Freedom Review. The Review made several recommendations and concluded that there is an opportunity to further protect and better promote freedom of religion under Australian law and in the community. In its response, the Australian Government committed to a range of measures to implement the Review's recommendations. These form the basis of the legislative package the government will introduce into Parliament. The Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019 will make consequential amendments necessary to implement the Religious Discrimination Bill. The stated aim of the Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019 is to amend existing Commonwealth legislation to better protect the right to freedom of religion.

Resources and Upcoming Events

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?

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.

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.

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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