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Weekly Wrap: 17 November 2019

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Weekly Wrap: 17 November 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 17 November 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.

Hundreds of providers at risk of insolvency

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, almost 200 residential aged care providers with more than 30,000 residents have insufficient funds to cover their liabilities, according to a new analysis of providers’ financial records by aged care peak Leading Age Services Australia. Accounting professionals at LASA analysed de-identified data from the Federal Government’s 2017-2018 financial reports of residential aged care providers. LASA financial analysts assessed providers’ ability to pay current liabilities from current assets. Refundable accommodation deposits (RADs) were removed from liabilities because they are generally not payable immediately. The analysis of 739 residential providers found 197 providers with 32,000 to 50,000 beds were unable to pay their adjusted liabilities from their current asset pools. Of these, 142 providers are in metropolitan areas, 44 in regional areas and 11 in both.


‘Financial viability is a means to an end in aged care; it is not an end in itself’: Royal commission

According to Aged Care Insite, the royal commission finished its Hobart hearing with some ideas as to how better governance can go some way to fixing the poor practices currently seen across the sector. In his concluding remarks counsel assisting Peter Rozen alluded to the two case studies heard in the week, and the tales of staff and cost cutting, when he said that: “It must be remembered that financial viability is a means to an end in aged care; it is not an end in itself.” There have been serious deficiencies in care caused by “insufficient care time, deficient organisational culture, insufficient attention to quality and safe clinical care, poor communications from facilities and a lack of responsiveness to complaints,” he said.


Quality not quantity in medicating aged-care residents

According to Hospital and Healthcare, greater levels of pharmacist intervention are required when administering drugs to an “overly-medicated” elderly population, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report revealed last week. The average Australian aged-care resident takes 9.75 medicines, and an estimated 30% of hospitalisations in older Australians are the result of medication-related harm; yet the need for ongoing consumption of pharmaceuticals is not routinely reviewed by some aged-care facilities. This means that drugs like antibiotics, antidepressants and other medications with harmful side effects, are often taken unnecessarily on a long-term basis, doing more harm than good. The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) welcomes the recommendation and says that better intervention will improve quality of life for aged-care residents.


Committee provides two differing reports on restraint rules

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a parliamentary committee has recommended the recent legislation regarding restraints in aged care remain but with amendments to clarify consent laws and further consultation with stakeholders to improve regulations. However, Labor and Greens members of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights have submitted a dissenting report calling on the senate to disallow the instrument in favour of a new one.


Speaking up can reduce staff burnout, study shows

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, supporting aged care workers to express their emotions can improve their health and wellbeing, according to Macquarie University research. Aged care staff are in physically and emotionally demanding roles, which can impact their overall health and wellbeing, said Bichen Guan, a PhD candidate at Macquarie University. “Staff in the workplace have many emotions. They may be frustrated when they encounter a difficult situation with their clients, especially when they encounter some aggressive behaviour,” Ms Guan told the Australian Association of Gerontology conference in Sydney last week. Aged care workers must self-manage their feelings and they are often unable to express or regulate their emotions, she said. Providers can improve staff wellbeing and reduce worker burnout by encouraging workers to speak up, said Ms Guan, who is researching emotion regulation and retention of aged care employees.


Govt supports Earle Haven recommendations to strengthen regulation

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the inquiry into the sudden collapse of aged care services at Earle Haven on the Gold Coast has recommended greater regulatory capability and better oversight of approved providers and financial, commercial and sub-contracting arrangements. These are among 23 recommendations the inquiry led by Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell has made to prevent another sudden collapse in aged care service delivery, better safeguard residents of providers not meeting their obligations and better manage similar events. All recommendations are supported by the government, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck announced on Monday when he released the report he commissioned in July publicly.


Tasmania’s aged care workforce under pressure

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, older Tasmanians are more likely to be impacted by failing aged care services than mainland seniors because the state has the highest proportion of seniors coupled with a small number of services, the aged care royal commission has heard. This week’s hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is focusing on the governance of aged care services and the subsequent impact on quality and safety and particularly concerning those operating in Tasmania. Senior counsel assisting Peter Rozen said Tasmania had the highest proportion of older people in the nation.


Up exercise levels after 60: South Korean research

According to Aged Care Insite, Older people should up their exercise levels once they hit 60 to help cut their risk of heart attack and stroke, new research suggests. People who started exercising after being continuously inactive had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease of up to 11 per cent compared with those who stayed sedentary, a study of more than a million elderly people found. Those who eased off as they got older were up to 27 per cent more likely to develop heart and blood vessel problems.


Can you really feel at ‘home’ in an aged care home? A new report says yes

According to The Donaldson Sisters, having a sense of ‘home’ when you make the transition to residential aged care is just as important as the clinical care you received, according to the latest State of the Family Report from Anglicare Australia. Not-for-profit aged care provider Benetas is aiming to do just that with a new approach that is seeing their facilities purposely designed as a ‘home’ first. The model sees groups of eight residents living together in apartments with a shared living area, a dining room and a kitchen and the support of one main carer. Residents can take part in activities with other residents, stay within their apartments and socialise with only their neighbours or just keep to their rooms. Care services such as laundry and clinical services are also hidden away so there aren’t drug trolleys or medical charts lying around. And it’s having a positive effect. “It is now not uncommon to see carers, residents and families milling around the kitchen bench together enjoying a cuppa and a yarn,” says Benetas Research and Innovation Manager Catherine Joyce.


Send in the clowns: looking at humour in aged care

According to Aged Care Insite, laughter is the best medicine goes the old saying. A study from 2013 by researchers at UNSW, with help from the elder clowns from The Humour Foundation, seems to support this adage. They wanted to find out whether humour therapy reduces depression, agitation and behavioural disturbances and improves social engagement and quality of life in nursing home residents. Studying residents from 35 Sydney nursing homes, they found an average 20 per cent reduction in agitation levels in the treatment group, and an overall increase in social engagement and quality of life.


Doctors question ability of patients to make complex medical decisions in advance

According to The Senior, Australian doctors sometimes ignore advance care directives not believing in the ability of non-medically trained patients to make complex medical decisions for themselves in advance, according to a new study. Even though ACDs are legally binding documents some doctors struggle to comply with patient choices and the study findings challenge the widely held assumption that personal autonomy and choice trumps all in medical treatment decision making. The study led by Advance Care Planning Australia uncovers the complexity and difficulty faced by doctors when enacting ACDs and the deep conflict in weighing up whether to follow a patient's directive.



Nothing in the news this week.


Resources and Upcoming Events

Webinar: Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) – 20 November 2019

The Department of Health and Dementia Support Australia will host a free webinar to discuss the SDCP. Participants will have the opportunity to ask panel representatives questions about the Program. Start times vary across states and territories so please refer to the website via the link above.


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.


Managing Dignity of Risk Challenges in Residential Aged Care WORKSHOP – various locations across Vic and NSW in October and November 2019

According to The Communiques, this essential workshop is designed for executives, senior managers, clinicians and relevant personnel to provide a systematic approach to examining the issues of how to manage risks for older residents living in residential aged care facilities. Balancing staff and organizational responsibilities of duty of care with the residents’ rights and choice in Dignity of Risk. For more information, including times and locations of workshops, follow the link above and download the full program.


National Conference on the Future of Aged Care: Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission – 19-21 November 2019, Melbourne

According to Criterion Conferences, this national conference will be the first opportunity to critically unpack and explore the Royal Commission’s Interim Report, with strategic insights from key industry leaders and experts.


OPAN event: Understanding the New Charter of Aged Care Rights – 25 and 26 November 2019, South Australia

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) invites you to a free interactive educational event in South Australia for consumers, carers and families, and providers. The event will cover the rights in the Charter and its benefits, implementation requirements and implementing the Charter in Home Care and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Event locations and start times:

Port Pirie - John Pirie Motor Inn

25 November, 2pm – 4pm ACDT

Victor Harbor - McCracken Country Club

26 November, 2pm – 4pm ACDT


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.


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.

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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