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: 12 January 2021

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Weekly Wrap: 12 January 2021

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 12 December 2021, aggregated by CompliSpace.

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.


Coronavirus / COVID-19 News

Queensland update to Directions to Aged Care Providers

(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 Queensland Government has updated their advice to aged care providers in Queensland (Aged Care Direction No. 18) while contract tracers work to ensure the UK strain of COVID-19 is not circulating in the community.

From 6pm Friday 8 January 2021, the additional restrictions in Part 3 of the Aged Care Direction apply to all residential aged care facilities in specific Local Government Areas (LGA)s. A list of restricted LGAs is available on the Queensland Health website. These restrictions include:

  • Visitors are not permitted.
  • Only specific individuals identified in the direction may enter a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF).
  • Residents (excluding an end of life resident) must not be permitted to leave the RACF except:
    • To receive or access health care
    • To attend a funeral
    • In the case of an emergency or on any other compassionate grounds.
  • Any person (other than a resident) entering a restricted RACF must wear a single use surgical face mask.
  • Any person providing direct care to a resident in a restricted RACF must wear appropriate personal protective equipment in accordance with the Residential Aged Care Facility and Disability Accommodation PPE Guidance.

Aged care providers are asked to ensure they have a sufficient supply of PPE, to use their own supply of PPE first and to request extra supply as and when needed. If you urgently need PPE and cannot source it, please submit an online application. The application will need to be completed for your request to be considered. The Commonwealth is prioritising requests for PPE from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is in the process of contacting all facilities in the Greater Brisbane area to establish that services have put the necessary arrangements in place to keep consumers safe, and are ready to activate their outbreak management plans. All aged care providers are also encouraged to have their Workforce Management Plan in place and ready to be enacted if needed.

It is critical to stay up to date with advice and Directions on the QLD Health website and to check for these updates regularly.

Please note that aged care providers are reminded they need to urgently contact both their local PHU and the Commonwealth Department of Health at agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au in response to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member. A Commonwealth case manager will be assigned to you and a range of supports will be made available to help you manage the outbreak. The PHU will also advise and assist you with testing arrangements.

Further information and advice
The Queensland PHU contact number is 13 432 584 (13 HEALTH).

Please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Single site arrangements for COVID-19 impacted areas in 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, in response to the increased number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, residential aged care providers located in high risk areas in Victoria will be able to receive support through the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) grant. The SACWIC Grant Opportunity is designed to minimise the risk of infection to aged care workers, residents and other consumers of aged care services by providing grant funding to limit people working across multiple aged care facilities and to support single site workforce arrangements. The Grant Opportunity extends the current arrangements currently available to providers located in Northern Beaches, NSW.

The grant funding will be available in the following locations in Victoria: Brighton, Doveton, Glen Waverley, McKinnon, Mordialloc and Moorabbin. This means providers in these areas will be able to access funding to reintroduce the Guiding Principles for residential aged care – keeping VIC residents and workers safe (Principles) which are being updated to reflect the latest advice. This will ensure workers are not disadvantaged as a result of the single site arrangements. The SACWIC grant activity period for these Victorian locations is from 31 December 2020 until they are no longer considered a hotspot, as determined by the Government based on advice from Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

Providers outside of these areas are also able to receive support if they have staff who are limited to working at a single facility in any of the above locations.

Further information on the Principles and single site workforce arrangements by visiting the Guiding Principles Support Hub website or phoning the hotline on 1800 491 793.

For workers affected by single site arrangements, Converge International will deliver up to five free counselling sessions per person. Phone 1300 687 327 or visit www.convergeinternational.com.au to book an appointment. Please state you are from the Victorian Aged Care Workforce when booking.

 

Updated advice on visitation restrictions for RACFs

(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 community transmission of COVID-19 in some jurisdictions, it is important for approved aged care providers to stay up to date with state and territory public health orders. Information for residential aged care providers and individuals explaining how the directions apply is available on state and territory government health department websites.

New South Wales Health has issued updated advice to residential aged care providers and home care providers. All staff and visitors must wear a surgical mask whilst in a RACF. All RACFs in the Northern Area of the Northern Beaches, City of Wollongong, Cumberland City Council or the Canterbury Ward of Canterbury Bankstown Council must exclude all visitors, except those performing essential caring functions. No visitors from the Northern Area of the Northern Beaches, City of Wollongong, Cumberland City Council or the Canterbury Ward of Canterbury Bankstown Council are permitted to visit RACFs.

Queensland Health has issued Aged Care Direction (No. 17) which came into effect at 1am on 4 January 2021. Additionally, in response to a positive case confirmed with the UK strain of COVID-19, additional restrictions have been put in place to protect vulnerable members of the community. Visitors are not allowed in the Metro North, Metro South and West Moreton Hospital Health Service regions for:

  • residential aged care facilities
  • hospitals
  • disability accommodation services
  • prisons our youth detention centres

Persons that have been in Victoria on or after 21 December 2020 are not allowed to enter a residential aged care facility unless 14 days have passed since the person was in Victoria. Employees, contractors, students, volunteers and support persons who have been in Victoria on or after 21 December 2020 may enter a residential aged care facility if the individual obtains a negative COVID-19 test in Queensland after returning from Victoria.

In South Australia the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 21) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 came into effect on 1 January 2021. No person who has been to a prohibited location is permitted to enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility in South Australia. A prohibited location means anywhere in New South Wales (NSW). Visit the Contact Tracing page to keep up to date with the latest health alerts.

 

Testing of asymptomatic staff and residents of NSW and Victorian residential aged care facilities

(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, in accordance with the Victorian State Government directions, the Australian Government is continuing to support testing of asymptomatic residential aged care workers in Victoria. Testing is being undertaken by Melbourne Pathology (a subsidiary of Sonic Healthcare), as required, on a fortnightly basis for Melbourne providers and monthly for Victorian regional providers. Testing will help providers know the COVID-19 status of workers on a given day. This may also alert providers if someone is positive before further transmission or a significant outbreak occurs. Testing of asymptomatic aged care workers is currently being expedited in locations in Victoria with a heightened COVID-19 risk. Please see the testing of asymptomatic aged care workers factsheet for further information.
 
Testing of asymptomatic residents is also being offered by the Australian Government as a precautionary measure in Victorian State Government defined High Exposure Risk suburbs.

 

General reminder on using and sourcing PPE

(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, consistently and safely wearing PPE is an essential measure to protect your health, and the health of the older Australians in your care. All aged care workers and providers are reminded of the need to consistently follow Commonwealth guidance, and state and territory government requirements and directions on PPE use.

Depending on the incidence of COVID-19 in individual jurisdictions and localised areas within jurisdictions, states and territories may implement more stringent requirements on when to use PPE. It is important you remain up to date with the latest Commonwealth guidance and state/territory requirements.

The directions are available on the following websites:

New South Wales

Victoria

Queensland

South Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

Australian Capital Territory

Northern Territory

The deployment of PPE is only where commercial supply is unavailable and there is a demonstrated need or clinical advice requiring its use. Aged care providers are asked to ensure they have a sufficient supply of PPE, to use their own supply of PPE first and to request extra supply as and when needed.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has a list of PPE suppliers. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has a guide including links to national, state and territory portals which connect buyers and sellers of PPE.

If you urgently need PPE and cannot source it, please submit an online application. The application will need to be completed for your request to be considered. The Commonwealth is prioritising requests for PPE from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.

Residential and in home aged care services across Australia who are in a priority category can request surgical masks and P2/N95 respirator masks from the NMS. Requests for other PPE, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and prioritised where there is an outbreak in a residential aged care facility.

 

Stay up to date with COVID-19 exposure locations and alerts

(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, all approved aged care providers are urged to continue to monitor and remain up to date with the list of COVID-19 exposure sites across jurisdictions. State and territory health authorities continue to update these lists as new information becomes available. We encourage providers to ensure staff are also familiar with these lists.

NSW case locations and alerts

Victoria case locations and alerts

Queensland case locations and alerts

 

Seamless visitor management

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, new technology is helping facilities manage visitors and reporting requirements and improve the experience for all, writes Natasha Egan. People are seldom excited about new processes and procedures. Especially when they involve more red tape or come during a time of unprecedented upheaval. Despite this, a visitor management system implemented at Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution villages in New South Wales and ACT in the first half of 2020 has all facility stakeholders cheering. The measures form part of RFBI’s investment in technology and additional staffing to ensure residents and their loved ones can stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions. At the centre of the approach is an online visitor booking system that allows families to arrange a visit of their choice and stay up to date with RFBI’s visiting protocols and pre-entry screening criteria. Most villages offer a minimum of face-to-face visits, video calls and window or balcony visits.

 

Other News

Hunt and Colbeck to share responsibility for aged care

According to Inside Ageing, more hands to the wheel with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing that aged care will be elevated to cabinet and health minister Greg Hunt adding aged care to his responsibilities. The cabinet reshuffle follows the departure of finance minister Mathias Cormon and criticism of Senator Colbeck’s handling of the portfolio and subsequent response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Aged Care portfolio will be brought into Cabinet with the Hon Greg Hunt MP as Minister for Health and Aged Care responsible for the Government’s response to the Aged Care Royal Commission. Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck will retain responsibility for aged care services, including delivery of residential and home care packages, aged care sector regulation and Senior Australians. He will also continue as Minister for Sport.

 

Aged Care Guild disbanding to make way for new provider led reform group

According to Inside Ageing, the aged care landscape has changed significantly over the last few years and the Aged Care Guild strongly supports the need for the sector to reform. We understand long-term change requires long-term commitment. The Aged Care Guild has recognised that its current structure is not best suited to delivering an effective, reform-oriented agenda. The significant changes required will only be achieved through a broader effort led by forward thinking private, church and charitable providers working in unison. As such, Directors have made the decision to disband the Guild to enable the formation of a new network of providers, without pre-existing constraints.

 

Elder Abuse in Australian Aged Care Facilities

According to Inside Ageing, around 39.2 per cent of people living in Australian aged care facilities experience elder abuse in the form of neglect, emotional abuse or physical abuse according to experimental estimates by the Office of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Of these three types of elder abuse, the most prevalent was estimated to be neglect (experienced by 30.8 per cent of people), followed by emotional abuse (22.6 per cent) and physical abuse (5 per cent). Elder abuse can also take the form of financial, social and sexual abuse. These forms were not able to be estimated using the data available. The experimental estimates were calculated using data from the Royal Commission’s residential aged care survey previously conducted by the National Ageing Research Institute.

 

The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) shadow assessment management organisations

(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 has announced its continued development of the possible replacement for the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model. A key preparatory step in the possible shift to a new system is to undertake independent assessments for all new and existing permanent residential aged care recipients using the AN‑ACC assessment tool. This ‘shadow assessment’ process will commence in the first half of 2021 and is expected to take approximately 12 months to complete.

The term shadow assessment reflects that the ACFI will continue to operate during this period and will continue to be the mechanism through which funding assessments continue to be made. The AN-ACC shadow assessments will take place in parallel to ACFI assessments. During this time there will be no changes to ACFI processes. The AN-ACC shadow assessment process will not impact funding received by providers in relation to care recipients.

The shadow assessment process is necessary to ensure Government is prepared to respond in an agile manner to the final report of the Royal Commission into Quality and Safety in Aged Care. It does not reflect final decisions of Government to shift to the AN-ACC funding model, but rather a proactive approach to ensuring reform options are available to replace the outdated ACFI.

The Government will continue to consult with the sector on implementation matters before final decisions on the commencement of AN-ACC and an ongoing assessment workforce are finalised.

For more information visit the department’s website.

 

Legislation

Veterans' Affairs (Treatment Principles – Extend Eligibility for Allied Health Treatment to Residential Care Recipients) Determination 2020 (CTH) – Commenced 10 December 2020

This instrument amends the Treatment Principles (No. R52/2013) and the MRCA Treatment Principles (No. MRCC 53/2013) to implement part of the Government’s response to the Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations on COVID-19.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

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.

 

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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