Aged care news highlights from the week ending 23 June 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.
Nearly half of Australia's residential aged care facilities are running at a loss
According to The Canberra Times, more than 45 per cent of Australia's residential aged care facilities are running at a loss. Of these, nearly 20 per cent have greater cash outgoings than incomings, meaning they have to reach into their own pockets or rely on support from their parent organisations and shareholders to remain financially viable. The sector's strain is even starker in the country's outer regional, rural and remote facilities, where 67 per cent probably won't break even, and 43 per cent cough up cash to keep the doors open. The findings were published in a report by accountancy firm Stewart Brown.
Reduction in Home Care Fees From 1 July 2019
According to a Department of Health Media Release, the Government has announced a reduction in basic daily fee for home care, with a greater reduction for those on lower packages. From 1 July 2019, the maximum basic daily fees for home care will reduce by $400 for level 1, $200 for level 2 and $100 for level 3. To maintain the value of the consumer’s home care package, the Government will increase the value of its contribution for each package level by the same amount.
$600m in Unspent Funds Undermining Sustainability of Providers
Australian Ageing Agenda reports that Australia’s home care providers are holding close to $7,000 in unspent funds for each client, a key aged care financial report reveals. The latest StewartBrown Aged Care Financial Performance Survey, analysing data from 26,386 home care packages for the nine months ending in March, shows the amount of unspent funds is continuing to balloon over each quarter with almost $600 million now sitting in providers’ bank accounts around the country. The report says results show the existing funding models for aged care are in need of “considerable adjustment”. It says given that overall home care funding is not being fully utilised, it would be preferable to broaden funding and make it available to more people rather than increasing aggregate subsidies.
Nation’s Only Voluntary Assisted Dying Scheme Starts in Victoria
According to Aged Care Insite, Australia’s only euthanasia laws are in place but it could take weeks, if not months, for the first person to die under the Victorian scheme and maybe much longer for the public to know. Terminally-ill Victorian adults in intolerable pain and with less than six months to live, or 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases, and who meet 68 safeguards can request their doctor’s help to die. But the application process takes at least 10 days before approval is granted.
Elderly Suffering Hypothermia Indoors in ‘Concerning’ Trend
According to Aged Care Insite, Victorian pensioners are needing treatment for hypothermia, after suffering dangerously low body temperatures in their own homes, in a “concerning” trend. A study of hypothermic emergency presentations between July 7 2009 and September 1 2016 to Alfred Health was prompted by a record-breaking cold winter in 2015. It found older people who suffered hypothermic episodes at home were more likely to die than younger people with similar symptoms found outside. The study also highlighted that more than half of elderly patients who presented to hospital with hypothermia lived alone and had few social supports, and almost three-quarters of them were on a pension.
Geriatric Outreach Service Avoids Unnecessary ED Presentations
According to Aged Care Insite, an outreach service running out of Bankstown-Lidcombe hospital in Sydney is saving the NSW government $2 million a year and reducing pressure on their emergency department. Figures from Bankstown-Lidcombe hospital show that aged care residents over the age of 65 make up 25–30 per cent of all patients on their geriatric wards. For geriatrician Frank Liu this can be problematic, as these older patient presentations often wait longer and take longer to be assessed and are likely to be more complex. To ease the strain, Liu started the Geriatric Outreach Service, whereby a geriatrician or nurse would be called to treat a resident at their nursing home. “Patients get to stay in their own home to receive medical treatment and are cared for, rather than being in hospital,” Liu said. “Our services have reduced about 200 admissions yearly for Bankstown Hospital, which saved about $2 million per year. We will expand this service for the weekend cover if there is additional funding from our hospital.”
US Expert Calls out Australia on Elder Abuse
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, A US elder abuse expert says Australia’s legal system is “silent” on elder abuse, and it should consider criminalising it and introducing mandatory reporting. San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood, who will be a keynote speaker at the 2019 National Elder Abuse Conference in Brisbane next month, says current Australian laws are ill-equipped to address elder abuse. In Australia, financial elder abuse can only be prosecuted under fraud charges, while physical abuse comes under general assault legislation. Mr Greenwood says the lack of specific criminal laws is keeping elder abuse in the shadows.
Primary Care Failing Older People in Remote Areas, Royal Commission Hears
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, poor primary care in rural and remote areas is increasing the need for older Australians to access aged care services, the aged care royal commission has heard. Dr Martin Laverty, chief executive officer of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, told the aged care royal commission on Tuesday that the service played a role as both an emergency and primary health care provider, principally in remote and very remote Australia. Dr Laverty told the inquiry primary care plays an important role in keeping older Australians healthy. He said primary care is failing older people living in remote Australia.
This Instrument amends the Aged Care (Subsidy, Fees and Payments) Determination 2014 and the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Principles 2014. Commencing 1 July 2019, the amendments set the maximum amount of basic daily fee that an approved provider may charge a home care recipient.
This Bill establishes the office of Ageing and Disability Commissioner from 1 July 2019. The Commissioner aims to better protecy adults with a disability and older people from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The main roles of the Commissioner will be to investigate allegations of abuse of adults with a disability and older people in home and community settings, take action following investigations, provide advice and raise awareness.
This Act commenced on 19 June 2019. From that date, Victorians at the end of life who are suffering and who meet strict eligibility criteria will be able to request access to voluntary assisted dying. To be eligible, a person must have decision-making capacity and must make their request personally. A person will not be able to request voluntary assisted dying in an advance care directive, and if this request is made it will be invalid. Likewise, no-one else will be able to make a request on behalf of someone else. Health practitioners must not initiate a discussion about voluntary assisted dying or suggest voluntary assisted dying to a patient when they are providing them with a health service or professional care service
Resources and Upcoming Conferences
Aged Care and Elder Law Conference – 16-18 July 2019, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
The Thomson Reuters Aged Care & Elder Law Conference series is taking place in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane over 16-18 July 2019. The conference aims to address the key issues in legal, regulatory and compliance in aged care, retirement villages and senior living, including implications of the Royal Commission, navigating the new framework and Standards, workplace risks, responding to suspected elder financial abuse, and “being litigation ready”.
National Elder Abuse Conference – 22-23 July 2019 Brisbane
According to the National Elder Abuse Conference website, the NEAC will help safeguard the right of older Australians to live free from abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect. NEAC 2019 is an opportunity to drive real change as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety unfolds and a National Plan on Elder Abuse is in the spotlight. With speakers being progressively announced, the inspiring line-up of international, national and local experts will attract more than 500 delegates from across Australia to collaborate on the issues associated with elder abuse.
“Grandfathered Client” Data Collection Template Now Available
According to a Department of Health Media Release, Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers are required to complete the data collection template for all “grandfathered clients” who are not yet registered on My Aged Care. Grandfathered clients are those clients who were already receiving services (through the former Commonwealth Home and Community Care, National Respite for Carers Program, Day Therapy Centres Program or Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program) prior to CHSP commencing in July 2015. These clients have continued receiving services under the CHSP and have not yet registered with My Aged Care. The My Aged Care Provider Portal will be open from 22 July 2019 until 1 September 2019 for CHSP providers to load the completed template and enter the remaining client data.
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Releases Advance Care Planning Background Paper
According to the Royal Commission website, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has released its fifth Background Paper as part of the Royal Commission’s work. The paper, “Advance Care Planning in Australia” is now available to download on the Commission’s website. The paper discusses the low uptake of Advance Care Planning by Australians, despite the many benefits it offers.