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Weekly Wrap: 15 December 2019

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Weekly Wrap: 15 December 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 15 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.

Royal commission tackles intersections between aged and health care

According to Aged Care Insite, the aged care royal commission is in Canberra this week to unpack the “patchwork quilt” older Australians and their loved ones confront as they navigate the interfaces between aged care and health care. Opening the week’s first hearing, senior counsel assisting Peter Gray said: “Access to health services is perhaps best described as a patchwork quilt where the pieces don’t join particularly well. In some areas with an active primary health network or local hospital network, older people in aged care receive excellent services. In other areas, access is much more limited.” Gray also detailed the royal commission’s analysis of health data that showed in the financial year 2016-2017, almost 70 per cent of permanent aged care residents did not see a medical specialist outside hospital settings.

RC proposes medical response teams to improve health care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care system needs a national network of government-funded multi-disciplinary hospital outreach services to support aged care recipients in their care facility or home, this week’s inquiry hears. This week’s hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is focusing on the interfaces between aged care and all levels of the health care systems. Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray said all aged care recipients deserved access to the primary, acute and specialist health services they needed, however, “the evidence is clear that this is not happening”.

Nearly a third of Advance Care Directives are invalid

According to Talking Aged Care, a nationwide study from Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA), a national program empowering consumers to prepare for important healthcare decisions in the future, has found nearly a third of Advance Care Directives (ACDs) audited in residential aged care facilities around the country were invalid. 

Quality commissioner granted new powers

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the role of aged care’s regulator has been expanded to include oversight of approving all aged care providers and all compliance and enforcement actions. Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck announced the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 passed the upper and lower houses of government on Thursday evening. From January 1, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner’s role will include oversight of:

  • approving all residential and home care providers
  • aged care compliance and enforcement actions
  • the administration of the responsibilities of approved providers to report assaults.

AMA position paper calls for innovation in aged care

According to Community Care Review, innovation and enhanced technology must be included in all current and future aged care planning to reduce costs, increase efficiency and enhance quality of care, the AMA says in a position statement released this week. Australian Medical Association President Dr Tony Bartone says the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has highlighted deficiencies in the sector and uncovered an aged care system plagued by “rigid conformity and an absence of innovation.” “Innovation is vital to improve the level of care provided, to deliver consumer-centred care, and enable the sustainability of the aged care system,” he said in a statement.

Copper beds assist infection control

According to Hospital and Healthcare, a study has found that intensive care unit (ICU) copper hospital beds harbour 95% fewer bacteria than conventional hospital beds, maintaining these low-risk levels throughout a patient’s stay in hospital. The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Hospital-acquired infections are the eighth-leading cause of death in the US and hospital beds are among the most contaminated surfaces in patient care settings.

Rejigged religious freedom bill released

According to The New Daily, charities, hospitals and aged care homes will be able to hire and fire staff based on their faith under a redrawn religious freedom bill. Scott Morrison has released the proposed laws for a second round of public comment after his first attempt was roundly condemned by religious and secular groups. “This is a bill for all Australians,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday. “Australia is a country of respect and of tolerance.” The draft legislation has been updated to ensure charities such as Vinnies, as well as religious hospitals and nursing homes, can hire staff based on their faith. It also narrows conscientious objection provisions for health practitioners.

Help redesign aged care services

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the royal commission is seeking feedback from aged care stakeholders on the future design of the aged care system and a proposed new model. Royal commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs released a consultation paper exploring options for future design of aged care programs last Friday. In it, they ask “how could we ensure that any redesign of the aged care system makes it simpler for older people to find and receive the care and supports that they need?” All interested individuals and organisations are invited to make a submission responding to the paper before Friday 24 January 2020.

New temporary housing option for young people in aged care

According to Community Care Review, young people with disability who are at risk of being transferred to an aged care facility or who want to get out of aged care will be eligible for new temporary accommodation under the NDIS. NDIS minister Stuart Robert has announced that the NDIS will now fund a new type of transitional housing, Medium Term Accommodation (MTA),  designed to support participants as they prepare to move into permanent accommodation.

Seniors crave digital connection, study finds

According to Community Care Review, seniors are enthusiastic to embrace technology but continue to be excluded from the digital wave, a report has found. The Digital Paradox for Seniors Report, which includes research from over 600 seniors, shows that with guidance, seniors eagerly embrace technology and don’t want to be left behind. But the report, conducted by technology educator YourLink with the support of business management consultancy PwC, also revealed that service providers and the community as whole often exclude them from the digital experience.

Rating tool aims to improve nutrition in aged care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new initiative strives to help aged care providers identify food service areas they are excelling at and those requiring improvement. The Lantern Project, which involves a community of 1,000-plus aged care stakeholders, has developed the evidence-based tool Epicure to provide residential aged care facilities an annual rating on its food, nutrition and mealtime experience. Epicure was launched at the Lantern Conference at Bond University on the Gold Coast last week. It collects data through residents’ stories, staff input and onsite observations to provide the rating and identify areas of improvement.


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

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.

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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