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Weekly Wrap 17 December 2021

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Aged care news highlights from the week ending 17 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

 

Rapid antigen testing program – end of year arrangements (24 December 2021 to 3 January 2022)

According to the Department of Health, since August 2021, the Australian Government, through the Department of Health (the department) has funded the supply of rapid antigen test (RAT) kits and training to eligible residential aged care facilities across Australia, to protect older Australians as we open Australia through the National Plan. So far, over 650 residential aged care facilities have benefited from the program.

From 24 December to 3 January, the department and the logistics provider will be minimally staffed. In this time there will be no regular deliveries of rapid antigen test kits to residential aged care facilities. This means the RAT.Operations@health.gov.au mailbox and the online request form will not be monitored during this period. Exception to this arrangement applies for facilities requiring emergency rapid antigen kits due to an outbreak only and this will be processed through your assigned outbreak case manager.

Facilities that are still eligible under the program criteria, and anticipate running low of rapid antigen test kit supplies over this period, should plan ahead by submitting requests for supply before Wednesday 15 December 2021. This will allow for processing of requests and delivery to eligible facilities.

 

Webinar on My Aged Care and mandatory reporting now available online

(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 recording of the recent webinar on workforce vaccination requirements, including a guided virtual tour of reporting via My Aged Care is now available online. It includes information about what to include in the reporting tool, where, when and how.

The webinar features speakers Jane Bacot-Kilpatrick from LASA; Cathy Haffner and Ben Hooper from the Department and Danielle Winzenried from ACSA.

The information presented will benefit CEOs, service managers, staff responsible for My Aged Care reporting and residential aged care providers. 

 

Resources to support workforce vaccination and how you report on it

(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, providers are reminded of the many resources available on the Department’s website to support workforce vaccination and reporting:

Supporting workers to be vaccinated:

 

Supporting providers to accurately report workforce vaccination data:

 

QLD Health - Updated Direction

(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, Queensland Health has issued an updated Direction, Residential Aged Care Direction (No. 11). The following list provides a brief overview of key changes. This information is not exhaustive, and providers should carefully read the Direction:

  • from 13 December 2021, fully vaccinated people arriving from hotspots can visit vulnerable facilities
  • from 17 December 2021, only fully vaccinated people can visit RACFs for any reason. Unvaccinated people can visit for limited reasons (for example: end of life, parent or guardian, legal advocacy)
  • emergency entry for an unvaccinated person has been expanded to include emergency, legislative, regulatory or compliance functions and official union duties
  • people undertaking work in an area that is not co-located with the RACF (for example a separate construction site) are not required to be vaccinated
  • a person will be taken to be fully vaccinated if they have a recognised medical contraindication or are a COVID-19 vaccine trial participant.

Further information is available on the Qld Health website.

 

SA Health - Rapid Antigen Testing 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, SA Health is supporting workplaces to implement rapid antigen testing (RAT) as a screening tool under the supervision of a health practitioner. A third-party provider may be engaged to manage this process. RACFs wishing to undertake rapid antigen screening must:

  • seek approval from the Chief Public Health Officer
  • adhere to standard operating protocols and checklists
  • use acceptable RAT kits
  • follow reporting requirements.

To seek approval to implement RAT, please email: Health.COVIDRapidAntigenTests@sa.gov.au

Further information regarding the process for implementing Rapid antigen testing (RAT) for COVID-19 is available on the SA Health website.

 

VIC Health - Updated factsheets 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, the Victorian Department of Health has released revised factsheets to support the management of COVID-19 outbreaks in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs):

Immediate public health actions recommended guidance following a RACF COVID-19 Outbreak or exposure provides guidance about what to do when a positive COVID-19 case is identified in an RACF. It is critical that RACFs follow this guidance in the event of a COVID-19 exposure and within the first few hours of a suspected COVID-19 outbreak

RACF COVID-19 Staff Furlough and Worker Mobility Guidance provides information on furlough requirements for staff and worker mobility guidance, once a positive case of COVID-19 is identified.

These factsheets form part of the RACF Outbreak Management Toolkit.

Please contact the Victorian Aged Care COVID team on agedcareCOVIDpreparedness@health.vic.gov.au if you have any questions.

 

Restrictions easing on visits to aged care homes in time for Christmas

According to Aged Care 101, the Federal Government’s Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) has given the news that families with loved ones in residential aged care most wanted to hear, just days before Christmas. “The high proportion of Australians now fully vaccinated means we are gradually adjusting to a COVID-normal world as restrictions are lifted on most activities outside our homes,” said the aged care regulator in its latest newsletter.

 

$9.8 billion new investment in Australia’s health care and COVID response

According to the Department of Health, the Australian Government is providing an additional $9.8 billion in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) update to deliver ongoing Telehealth, COVID vaccinations, and to ensure Australians have access to world class health care and medicines.

 

Other News

 

Workforce, quality top sector’s reform concerns

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, aged care providers have little confidence in the progress of aged care reforms six months after the Federal Government announced its five-pillar plan, an industry survey has found. In response, provider groups are calling for government to act on workforce issues, the flow of reform implementation information and partnering with providers. The Australian Aged Care Collaboration, an alliance of six aged care peak bodies, launched the Aged Care Reform Scorecard on Tuesday to monitor the implementation of reforms coming out of the royal commission.

 

Aged care sector’s major representatives announce intention to form new industry body

According to Aged Care Guide, in a bid to change in line with the necessary reform to the aged care sector, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), peak body for industry providers, and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), peak body for not-for-profit providers, have announced their intention to amalgamate into a new overarching industry body.

 

New research centre to strengthen aged-care delivery

According to Hospital and Healthcare, a new $34 million research centre to open next year at Flinders University in Adelaide hopes to strengthen the future of aged-care delivery in Australia. The Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research will initially focus on four priority areas — dementia care, restorative care and rehabilitation, mental health and wellbeing, and social isolation.

 

The Supporting Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) grant has been extended to 30 June 2022

(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, on 3 December 2021, the Australian Government announced extended support for Aged Care providers impacted by COVID-19. This included an extension of the SACWIC grant (GO4215) to 30 June 2022.

This extension is now in place and eligible providers can submit applications up to the new closing date of 2:00pm (AEST) on 30 June 2022.

The SACWIC grant opportunity enables approved providers to seek reimbursement for additional out of pocket expenses associated with implementing single site arrangements.

Eligible workforce costs under SACWIC are those that support eligible workers:

  • who normally work at multiple residential aged care facilities, but will be working solely at the facility that is applying
  • who can't attend work because they have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, require testing or need to self-isolate or quarantine
  • to do training in the event there is a skills gap where existing workers can't work due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have to self-isolate or quarantine.

Eligible providers are encouraged to consider the out of pocket costs they have incurred from implementing these arrangements and apply for reimbursement where appropriate. The Grant Opportunity Guidelines, online application form and regularly updated responses to frequently asked questions can be accessed on GrantConnect (Grant Opportunity – GO4215).

 

Unspent funds are impacting providers

According to Community Care Review, the underutilisation of home care package funding is affecting the profitability of home care providers, a webinar on the future provision of aged care has heard. This third seminar in the Macquarie Aged Care Policy Forum series looked at issues that remained ‘unfinished business’ in the home and community sector from the Aged Care Royal Commission and the Australian Government’s response.

 

Aged Care Alert: Claim for payment advice from Services Australia

According to the Department of Health, all aged care providers will need to submit their online and paper claims to Services Australia as soon as possible to ensure prompt processing. If your claim forms have missing or incorrect details, Services Australia will return them for corrections, which will delay processing. You can reduce delays by confirming your details before submitting your claim for payment.

For all enquiries please contact Services Australia on 1800 195 206.

 

 

Legislation

 

Poisons Amendment Act 2021 (No. 21 of 2021) [TAS] – commenced 17 December 2021

The Poisons Act 1971 provides for the regulation, control and prohibition of the importation, making, refining, preparation, sale, supply, use, possession and prescription of scheduled substances (medicines).

The Poisons Amendment Act amends the Poisons Act to facilitate Tasmania’s implementation of a nationally consistent system of Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) for certain high-risk prescription medicines. The amendments are needed to allow the system to operate in Tasmania and are largely reflective of provisions in place in other states and territories.

The Poisons Amendment Act includes provisions mandating the RTPM’s use by prescribers (medical practitioners, dentists and other prescribed registered health practitioners with the ability to prescribe medications) and dispensers (pharmacists and other prescribed registered health practitioners with the ability to dispense medications on prescription).

 

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