Making a Plan and Checking it Twice: Aged Care COVID-19 Advice from the ACQSC

A second wave of COVID-19 is currently being experienced by several of our communities, particularly within Victoria and NSW, and a large percentage of cases are older people within our aged care homes. While previously only a few facilities were impacted by COVID-19, we have never experienced the number of infectious outbreaks impacting such a large number of Aged Care Homes at one time as are currently being reported across Melbourne.

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Weekly Wrap: 12 July 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 12 July 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 12 July 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

New COVID-19 Consumer Resources

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, COVID-19 is a new infection that can be more serious for some older people. These resources explain how you can see your loved ones while keeping yourself and others safe from COVID-19, and include a poster, how-to guide, website banner, email footer and a social media tile.

 

Five aged care homes in Melbourne linked to new coronavirus cases

According to Aged Care Insite, the coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne continues to grow as the city goes back into a six-week lockdown while five new infections have been linked to Victorian aged care services. From Thursday, residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, will be forced back into stage three lockdown as part of efforts to contain a second wave of coronavirus. This is on top of the 3000 residents of public housing blocks already under extreme lockdown in the city. Victoria recorded 134 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, its second-highest single-day total after a record 191 cases on Tuesday. More than 850 cases remain active, an increase of nearly 800 in a month.

 

More than 10 new COVID cases in Vic aged care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, as the number of positive coronavirus cases linked to aged care facilities in Victoria hits double digits, a provider peak body flags the return to more stringent protection measures for aged care services in the state. As of Thursday, Victoria has reported 12 positive cases of COVID-19 this week linked to 11 aged care facilities. It includes a resident at the Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee in Melbourne’s south-west. The remainder include 11 staff members at 10 facilities although four workers did not work there infectious. All of the facilities are in lockdown with and cleaning, contact tracing and appropriate testing underway, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said in statements this week.

 

Support for seniors in Victoria during COVID-19

(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 range of supports are available to all seniors to assist them during COVID-19. Providers are reminded to encourage their clients, particularly in Victoria, to access these supports if and when needed.

Assistance with food and meals including prioritised online grocery ordering and urgent referrals to meal providers.

Access to MBS telehealth services so senior Australians can talk to a GP or other allied health professionals without having to leave home.

Home medicine delivery through pharmacies, enabling people to have prescriptions delivered to their home.

Community Visitors Scheme to support senior people receiving Home Care or Residential Care who may be feeling more isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic through phone and virtual friendships.

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line – 1800 171 866, which provides information and support to senior Australians, their families and carers.

Friend Line telephone support service – 1800 4 CHATS (1800 424 287) which offers a free and anonymous telephone service that provides senior Australians with the opportunity to chat with a volunteer.

TIS National for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

Please inform your clients and care recipients about these supports, as well as senior Australians who may be your friends, neighbours or family members so that everyone is aware of the supports available.

 

Guide helps providers through first 24 hours of COVID outbreak

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new guide provides a step-by-step process of how to manage the first day of a COVID-19 outbreak in residential aged care. The Commonwealth Department of Health guide First 24 hours – managing COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility, includes 28 steps residential aged care facilities should take after identifying a positive coronavirus case.

 

Reminder: Who to contact if you have a positive COVID-19 case

(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.)

A reminder that the Department of Health needs to be immediately notified in conjunction with your state health department when there is a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 in an aged service. The Department will appoint a case manager who is the Commonwealth’s single point of contact for the aged care service. The case manager will connect you with resources to manage the outbreak. Resources include PPE, surge workforce and supplementation, testing in residential aged care facilities, and access to primary and allied health care. The email address to notify of a confirmed case is: agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.

 

New rating system shows facility compliance

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new star-rating feature has been launched on My Aged Care to show a residential aged care facility’s level of regulatory compliance. The Service Compliance Rating, which launched on 1 July, is part of the Government’s response to the recommendations from the Carnell-Paterson review of regulatory processes. There are already calls from provider peak Leading Age Services Australia for the system to be expanded include other measures. Each aged care facility is rated from one to four to reflect how well they meet the aged care quality standards with four stars indicating full compliance.

 

Reminder: Communications survey

(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 seeking your feedback on what information you would find most helpful as we continue to respond to COVID-19. The survey can be completed by anyone with an interest in the aged care. All participants are welcome to forward the survey link to others who may be interested in participating. All questions are voluntary and the survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and will not collect personal information. We would greatly value your feedback with the survey open until 24 July 2020.  A link to the survey can be found here.

 

Managing health risks as COVID-19 restrictions ease

(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 Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has updated its advice for the management of health risk as COVID-19 measures ease in some parts of the country. These health risks increase as people age. There is a substantial increase in risk of severe COVID-19 illness in people over 70. New resources have been developed to support senior Australians make COVIDSafe decisions about work, transport and social activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include a Living well in the COVID-19 pandemic tool and a COVIDSafe action plan that lists actions that older Australians can take if there are no or low cases in their community, or if cases in their community are increasing. We encourage you to provide these resources to your residents, care recipients and family members.

 

Survey for aged care workers on communication during COVID-19

(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 seeking your feedback on what stakeholders would find most helpful and informative as we enter the next phase of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey can be completed by anyone with an interest in the aged care. All participants are welcome to forward the survey link onto others who may also be interested in participating. All questions are voluntary and the survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and will not collect personally identifying information. We would greatly value your feedback. A link to the survey can be found here

 

Minister Colbeck's letter 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 Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, and Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, has today written to aged care providers to personally thank them for your role in protecting older Australians during COVID-19. The Minister is also urging all providers to remain vigilant and have an up to date outbreak management ready to be activated, if and when needed. You can read the Minister's letter here.

 

Aged care residents dying at 3 times the normal rate in the UK during pandemic

According to Aged Care Insite, aged care residents died at three times the normal rate in the UK during the COVID-19 peak in April, according to official government statistics. On April 12, 1300 people died in care homes in comparison with 407 the previous year and although only 495 of those deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, the excess 805 deaths could be attributable to the virus. The UK’s aged care sector has been in crisis throughout the pandemic and early mistakes by the government have seen the number of care home deaths soar to 20,000. A lack of staff PPE and a failure to isolate positive cases among residents have been identified as serious failures in infection control.

 

Additional changes in second review of aged care Industry Code

According to Aged Care Guide, a second review of the Industry Code on Visiting Residential Aged Care has resulted in additional changes, incorporating feedback from the general public. The 13 aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations involved in the creation of the Code, made further revisions including no time limits for close family visitors and residents can leave for small family events or gatherings, among other things.

 

Pandemic delays final report of aged care royal commission

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, COVID-19 has delayed the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety until 2021, the government says. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that the report will now be handed down on February 26, three months later than previously scheduled.The report was originally due to be handed to the government in November.

 

Other News

Get the new Aged Care Quality Standards online learning program

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, this learning program will assist aged care services to understand and meet the Aged Care Quality Standards and to prepare for quality assessment.

 

Provide your feedback on the draft National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, Edition Two

According to Catholic Professional Standards, the second edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards expands the established framework for the safeguarding of children to include safeguarding requirements and practices for the protection of adults at risk. The development of the draft second edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards began in November 2019 and has been guided by a National Reference Group comprising members with experience from within and external to the Catholic Church and expertise across various sectors and groups, such as: aged care; disability; mental health; child, adult and family welfare; health & community Services; Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities; refugee support; survivor support & complaints handling; human rights; Catholic dioceses; and female and male Religious Institutes. You can provide feedback via a survey on the CPSL website. This survey will remain open until August 28 2020.

 

QI Program – data submission due 21 July

(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, Quarter 4 of the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) is now complete. Data submission via the My Aged Care Provider Portal is due by 21 July 2020. When submitting quality indicator (QI) data for your residential aged care service, please ensure that:

  • you complete all fields and check your data before submission
  • you do not include any personal information such as names or initials of care recipients in your QI data
  • your QI data is submitted by the My Aged Care Provider Portal Administrator within your organisation.

For more information and support:

  • visit the department’s website
  • call the My Aged Care Service Provider and Assessor Helpline on 1800 836 799.

 

Services Australia Aged Care Quarterly Review

(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, Services Australia reviews the costs of aged care four times a year in January, March, July and September. This ensures the cost of a person’s aged care services aligns with changes in their financial circumstances. The next Quarterly Review for Residential Care and Home Care will take place on 11 July 2020, with a date of effect of 1 July 2020. Services Australia will send letters to aged care providers and care recipients as soon as possible after the Quarterly Review. The online claiming system for Home Care will be unavailable over the weekend of 11-12 July as Quarterly Review tasks are undertaken. Further information is available on:

 

Project to make the most of aged care data

According to Aged Care Insite, valuable data routinely collected in residential aged care is being lost because providers are gathering and recording it in different ways. That’s the issue a team of Australian researchers are hoping to overcome with the Aged Care Data Compare project. They will map data across the various systems currently used in the aged sector and the team said the resulting data hub would improve care, everyday efficiency and transparency and could make for easier reporting to government.

 

A suggested new tax could secure future aged care funding

According to Aged Care Guide, in a newly released consultation paper, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has suggested a new tax for working Australians, among other options, that could pay into a social insurance scheme to fund aged care services.

 

Australia is too dependent on poorly funded aged care

According to Aged Care Guide, researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, have stated in a new Medical Journal of Australia article that Australia is a huge user of residential aged care even though there is a low financial investment into the entire aged care sector.

 

Addressing dementia in Indigenous communities

According to Community Care Review, the NHMRC National Institute of Dementia Research (NNIDR) has closed, with the production of a guide to address the high burden of dementia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders its final initiative. The launch of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation came just days before the NNIDR, which has now fulfilled its five-year remit to expand national dementia research, wound up on June 30. The roadmap provides guidance for government, researchers, industry and philanthropy on dementia in Indigenous communities.

 

Govt leaves high level care out of HCP announcement

According to Community Care Review, the federal government has been slammed for leaving high level care out of a $325 million investment to create an additional 6,100 home care packages. Prime minister Scott Morrison made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the rollout of the level 1, 2 and 3 packages means there will be 164,200 home care packages in 2022-23. Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) expressed disappointment in the lack of level 4 packages. “We recognise the government’s commitment of 50,000 new home care packages since 2018 but level 4 packages are also critically important,” CEO Sean Rooney said.

 

Legislation

No significant developments this week.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

New Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Resources – issued June 2020

The ACQSC has issued the following resources:

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Glossary: The Commission has produced a glossary of common terms to aid understanding of the aged care services sector. The list is not intended to be exhaustive and is provided as general information only.

Common questions you may want to ask residential aged care services about COVID-19: You, your friends and family have a right to know how your residential aged care service is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have developed some common questions that you can ask your service provider during this time.

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.

 

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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