Aged care news highlights from the week ending 19 January 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.
Government and royal commission at odds over ACAT privatisation claims
According to Aged Care Insite, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has taken the extraordinary step of releasing a statement contradicting claims by aged care minister Richard Colbeck that suggested the commission recommended privatisation of the ACAT assessment process. Since November, media outlets have reported that the Government planned to amalgamate the current agencies responsible for aged care assessments – ACAT and the Regional Assessment Service – and offer the tender to the private sector. In the statement, royal commission chair Tony Pagone acknowledged the public’s concern and made clear that in no way did the commission support any such moves.
Tensions rise over tender for single assessment approach
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care minister has refuted claims that the government is intending to privatise the aged care assessment process as part of plans to streamline assessments. The government announced in December that a single assessment workforce will replace the Regional Assessment Service and Aged Care Assessment Teams from April 2021 to assess eligibility for access to all government-funded aged care services. It will comprise a single workforce and a network of assessment organisations, which will be selected through a national tender process in 2020, it said. In response to subsequent reports and a statement from the royal commission about the government’s plans to privatise assessments, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the reform was not about privatisation. “The Government has consistently refuted claims that our intention is to privatise the assessment process for aged care. That assertion is incorrect,” Mr Colbeck said in statement.
ACFA sees ‘merit’ in proposed home care funding overhaul
According to Community Care Review, home care providers will be paid after services are delivered instead of receiving a lump monthly payment in advance under a planned commonwealth overhaul of the home care system. The proposed a “payment in arrears” model, contained in last year’s budget, is an attempt to slow the accumulation of unspent funds, which now amount to $800 nationally. It’s planned that the new system will be phased in from June this year.
Researchers challenge euthanasia ‘gag clause’
According to Aged Care Insite, Victoria was the first state enabling voluntary assisted dying, but the ban put on doctors to discuss it with their patients is a “gag clause” that should be removed, experts say. An article published by the Medical Journal of Australia maintains that under the current assisted dying laws, medical professionals that suggest euthanasia risk losing their licence. This “unprecedented and unwarranted infringement on communication between health practitioners and their patients” is listed under Section 8 of the Act. “The state has established voluntary assisted dying as a lawful end-of-life choice,” says the article co-authored by Australian and American researchers. “On the other hand, with Section 8, the state has simultaneously legally prohibited health practitioners from initiating discussion of this option.”
Premature menopause linked to multimorbidity
According to Aged Care Insite, Australian research has shown that women who experience premature menopause are more likely to develop multiple chronic conditions down the track. For the study, University of Queensland PhD student Dr Xiaolin Xu looked at 11,000 women who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Xu said premature menopause was linked to a higher chance of women developing individual chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, asthma and breast cancer. He added research also showed that 71 per cent of women with premature menopause developed multiple chronic conditions, or multimorbidity, by the time they were 60 years old, compared with only 55 per cent of women who experienced menopause at the age of 50 to 51.
Chronic pain can change your brain and personality: researcher
According to Aged Care Insite, a new Australian study has found that people who live with chronic pain experience changes to their brain which can cause negative personality changes. The world first discovery found that people with chronic pain have smaller amounts of glutamate – the brain’s key chemical messenger – in the region responsible for regulating thoughts and emotions. The lead author of the study, associate professor Sylvia Gustin from Neuroscience Research Australia and University of New South Wales, said that the disruptions that pain causes between brain cells can make sufferers “more negative, fearful, pessimistic or worried”. Gustin, who is also a registered psychologist, has studied chronic pain for 20 years and says that perceived personality changes are a constant issue raised by patients.
2020: Year of the nurse and midwife
According to Aged Care Insite, in May, it will have been 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale and the World Health Organization (WHO) is marking the date by declaring 2020 as the first ever Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Early last year, WHO presented the proposal to member states of the 72nd World Health Assembly for consideration and endorsement. At the turn of the decade, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during 2020, WHO and its partners will ask countries to improve the education and employment of nurses and midwives.
New tool aims to minimise medication errors
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Australian Digital Health Agency and aged care medication management specialists Webstercare have launched an e-health record initiative to improve the management of medications. The Pharmacist Shared Medicines List consolidates the prescription and non-prescription medicines, such as over-the-counter pain killers, vitamins and herbal remedies, prepared by a pharmacist. The PSML is uploaded to a person’s My Health Record to help aged care and healthcare providers make informed prescribing and treatment decisions and assist in reducing medication errors.
Noticeboard: Life Care gets the green light
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, South Australian aged care provider Life Care has received approval from the City of Tea Tree Gully to build a $60 million aged care retirement living community in Adelaide. The integrated community in Golden Grove in Adelaide’s north-east will include 80 apartment suites and 46 independent living suites.
Bethanie acquires two facilities
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, West Australian aged care and retirement living provider Bethanie has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire the two aged care facilities of Perth aged care provider Berrington. If all conditions are met, Bethanie will add the aged care homes Berrington Subiaco and Berrington Como to its portfolio. KPMG partner Hayden White, who was appointed administrator of Berrington’s business operations in July 2019, said securing the sale of the Berrington facilities to Bethanie was the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.
Transition of the department’s aged care web content
According to The Department of Health, all current aged care website content will move to the department’s new site – health.gov.au – late on 22 January 2020. After Wednesday 22 January we will redirect all old URLs to their equivalent ones on health.gov.au to minimise the impact on users who access the site via bookmarks, links or search engines. In mid-2020, the old site will be decommissioned and a broad brush redirect will be applied from agedcare.health.gov.au to health.gov.au/aged-care. Please note that saved links to documents on the old site – as opposed to pages – won’t work after 22 January. From 23 January, and over the next few weeks, search the new website to find the content you want to link to and update your links.
Nothing in the news this week.
Resources and Upcoming Events
Webinar: Update on new aged care assessment arrangements – 12 February 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm (AEDT)
According to The Department of Health, this webinar will provide an update on the development of new aged care assessment arrangements and address common themes arising from stakeholder questions during the December 2019 webinar. The new arrangements will start from April 2021, providing a streamlined process for consumers to access aged care services.
Quality Indicators (QIs) pilot – specific service types invited to participate
The Department of Health has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to assist in the development and pilot to trial the new QIs relating to:
- medication management
- falls and fractures.
To ensure the pilot captures the views and experiences of residential aged care services nationally, the department would like to strongly encourage the following services to take part:
- Services operating in Queensland or remote areas
- Smaller services (less than 50 residential aged care places)
- Previous QI Program pilot participants
- Private (for profit) or State Government services.
Participation in the pilot is an opportunity for your service to trial and provide feedback on these indicators ahead of the implementation of the additional QIs from 1 July 2021. The pilot will commence in February 2020, please register your interest by 27 January 2020.
NATSIFAC Program Bi-Annual One-off Grant Opportunity – Second Approach now open
According to The Department of Health, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) Program 2019-2020 Bi-Annual One-off Grant Opportunity – Second Approach is a targeted, competitive application process. NATSIFAC Program service providers can apply for grant funding to address a clearly identified need that supports the delivery of aged care services. Service providers in remote and very remote Australia (geographical locations defined as Modified Monash Model 6 and 7) will be prioritised. The Grant Opportunity opened on Thursday 16 January 2020. All applications must be received by the department by 2:00pm, Thursday 12 March 2020.
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?
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.
Financial Transformation in Aged Care Conference – 29-30 April 2020m Sydney
Criterion Conferences is hosting a Financial Transformation in Aged Care Conference. Developed in partnership with COTA Australia and ACSA, this event is your opportunity to voice your concerns, strategise with leading providers, and actively engage in dialogue that will build a stronger, sustainable future for your organisation and the industry.
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.
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.