Residential Aged Care Assessments: What to Expect in 2021

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) recently released its Sector Performance Report for the period July to September 2020.

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Weekly Wrap: 20 December 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 20 December 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 20 December 2020, 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

Update advice for NSW Aged Care Providers

(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, in response to the increase in number of COVID-19 cases in New South Wales, aged care providers are reminded to regularly visit the NSW Health website for updated advice and directions. Advice is being updated regularly including visitation arrangements. At the time of writing, the directions stated:

Until at least 11.59pm on Wednesday 23 December 2020:

  • all residential aged care facilities across NSW must exclude visitors. Visitors performing essential caring functions may be exempted. Where there are exceptional circumstances (for example, a dying relative), seek advice from your local NSW Health public health unit on 1300 066 055
  • all staff and exempted visitors must wear a surgical mask while in a residential aged care facility.

NSW public orders and guidance from the Chief Health Officer must be followed and applied across the state at this point in time. This means that the current NSW Health advice supersedes national guidance in the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Escalation Tiers and Aged Care Provider Responses.

Support for residents
The Australian Government considers the personal welfare and mental health of residents in residential aged care facilities to be of vital importance.

Where visit restrictions are in place, as they are currently across NSW, arrangements should be put in place for residents and their families to regularly communicate. If residents are not able to get together with their loved ones during the festive season providers can:

  • ensure residents can continue to move freely around the facility wherever possible to ensure personal welfare and mental health
  • help facilitate phone calls or video conferencing between residents and families when possible
  • continue to run / expand their usual activities for residents
  • expand and roster on additional lifestyle staff.

Asymptomatic testing for residents and workers
The Australian Government has expanded capacity for testing asymptomatic aged care residents and workers in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Residential aged care services in this area have been or will be contacted to offer in-reach testing for aged care residents and workers. The testing provider will then contact the services directly to arrange for the testing teams to come on site.

Testing will be carried out on a voluntary basis but all services are strongly encouraged to take up the asymptomatic testing service. The Australian Government would like to thank the services that have already participated.

Limiting workers to one site
The safety of residents and workers in residential aged care is the highest priority. To minimise the potential risk of workers unintentionally transmitting COVID-19 by working across multiple sites, aged care workers in residential aged care facilities in the Northern Beaches are reminded to limit their work to one site. This is currently limited to the Northern Beaches local government area but may be extended if required.

Employers must support their workers in this arrangement and will be eligible for Australian Government grant funding to cover the out of pocket costs associated with ensuring workers are not financially disadvantaged. This arrangement will be supported by sector-led Guiding Principles, with additional resources available from the Support Hub. Providers in the Northern Beaches can contact the Support Hub on 1800 491 793.

OPAN Outbound Call Service
To ensure older Australians are not missing out on services they need to stay healthy, and to make sure they feel supported during this challenging time, OPAN is able to receive referrals from home care and CHSP providers, as well as My Aged Care through their Outbound Call Service. This service is for both ongoing and cancelling clients and for all people who need extra emotional and social support. The service is complementary to the work of home care providers in continuing to connect with the older Australians they assist.

Further information and advice
Please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Infection Prevention and Control Training for Residential Aged Care Facilities in NSW

(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, regular infection prevention and control (IPC) training of staff is vital to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF).

NSW Health has delivered IPC training to all Residential Aged Care providers in NSW using a Train-the-Trainer format. It is expected that this training will be in turn provided to all NSW RACFs.

If your RACF has not received this training, contact your head office / aged care provider to arrange its delivery.

There are also a range of free on-line training courses available for staff:

NSW Health – Infection Prevention and Control Practices

Commonwealth Department of Health – COVID 19 infection control

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission resources now available

(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 10 December 2020, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission hosted a webinar on their recently released outbreak management resources.

The Commission has published a recording of their Outbreak Management Planning in Aged Care webinar for providers. The Outbreak management planning in aged care guidance and Outbreak management planning short video are also available on the Commission’s website. These resources provide practical guidance to support COVID-19 outbreak management planning and preparation in residential aged care facilities.

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission visitor access campaign

(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 Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has started a visitor access campaign this month, which will continue into 2021, to support the transition of the aged care sector into a COVID-normal operating environment. This campaign will provide resources and guidance for aged care consumers, their families and approved providers to manage safe visitor access.

The Commissioner, Janet Anderson PSM, has written to all aged care providers requesting that they focus on both ensuring best practice infection prevention and supporting the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of residents by ensuring they have regular access to family and friends.

More information can be found here.

 

Reminder - Stay up to date with entry restrictions to 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, as we are heading into the festive season this is a reminder to all residential aged care providers about entry restrictions for residential aged care facilities. State and territory governments established directions under their emergency management provisions in response to COVID-19. The directions are continuing to be updated in response to the COVID-19 situation.

Approved providers should continue to stay up to date with the directions and their legislative responsibilities in relation to state and territory public health orders and contact the relevant state or territory health department as needed. Further information for residential aged care providers and individuals to explain how the directions apply is available on state and territory government health department websites.

New South Wales Health has issued updated advice to residential aged care providers and home care providers. Until further notice, aged care facilities in the Northern area of Northern Beaches (i.e. Collaroy and north of Collaroy) should exclude all visitors. Staff in these locations must wear a surgical mask at work. Staff and visitors must be excluded if they have from 13 December been in any of the locations on the self-isolate and get tested immediately list, at the times and dates listed or on the monitor for symptoms list. Revised entry requirements for residential aged care facilities commenced on 15 December 2020. Full details are included in the Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 4) 2020.

Queensland Health has issued Aged Care Direction No.15. Under this direction visitors, staff and volunteers can enter a residential aged care facility if they have been in a safe travel zone country in the past 14 days. Currently only New Zealand is a safe travel zone country. For full details read the Aged Care Direction (No. 15).

In South Australia the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 17) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 came into effect on 14 December 2020. There are no restrictions on the number of care and support visits a resident may receive. However, until 23 December 2020, everyone onsite (excluding residents and children under 12 years) must wear a face mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other people.

 

Other News

Concerns of excessive visitor restrictions this holiday season

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the consumer peak body for older Australians is calling on aged care providers to “not ruin Christmas” by preventing or overly restricting visitors from seeing their loved ones. Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA) chief executive Ian Yates said while most aged care providers have in place good length in-person visits, there are several reports that aged care homes are preventing residents from seeing their loved ones, or excessively restricting visits.

 

Tech trends in 2021 for aged care and disability

According to Community Care Review, Craig Porte shares some predictions for the aged care and disability sectors in 2021, including:

  • Technology will be required to drive more efficiency and better-quality management
  • The protraction of digital developments poses the greatest risk
  • Untapped opportunities for 2021

Extending mental health support for aged care residents

(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 30 November 2020, the Australian Government announced $35.5 million to expand access to the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative to aged care residents and evaluate Better Access.

From 10 December 2020 until 30 June 2022, aged care residents can access up to 20 individual psychological services per calendar year where their general practitioner or psychiatrist determines they would clinically benefit from additional mental health support.

Read more on the information sheet and further information can also be found on the department's website and information for practitioners will be available shortly on the MBS Online website. For any queries on the measure, please contact psychologicalservices@health.gov.au.

 

Guide supports providers to respond to sexual assault

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Australian Association of Gerontology has developed a guide to help aged care providers to respond to unlawful sexual contact in their facilities and support victims and their families. The free resource, Unlawful sexual contact in residential aged care: A practical guide for aged care providers supporting victims, has been developed in collaboration with the Older People and Sexuality Institute.
It draws on research and stakeholder feedback, including from the Older Women’s Network of New South Wales and the OPAL Institute’s #InHerShoes Project, which documented responses of older women who reported sexual assault, and AAG’s and the OPAL Institute’s workshop on unlawful sexual contact workshop held in November 2019.

 

Applications for the 2020 Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) are now open

(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, as announced by the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck on 17 December 2020, the 2020 ACAR will run from 18 December 2020 to 18 March 2021.

The 2020 ACAR offers:

  • 2,000 residential care places, prioritising applications that demonstrate they can deliver care immediately (‘bed-ready’) or within an 18 month period
  • 1,028 short-term restorative care (STRC) places
  • up to $150 million in capital grants for residential aged care

Download the Essential Guide, application forms and resource documents from the department’s website.

All ACAR applications must be received by the department before 11:59pm (AEDT) on 18 March 2021.

 

Interest rates for Residential Aged Care

(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:

Schedule of fees and charges that will take effect from 1 January 2021

An update of the schedules for residential and home care fees and charges will take effect from 1 January 2021.

View the updated Schedule of Fees and Charges for:

Residential and home care recipients who started care on or after 1 July 2014

Residential and home care recipients who started care before 1 July 2014

Services Australia’s quarterly review of fees and charges for all aged care recipients will take effect from 1 January 2021. Aged care recipients and providers will receive letters letting them know if there is a change to a care recipient’s fees and charges or if a refund may be due.

MPIR from 1 January 2021

The maximum permissible interest rate (MPIR) will decrease to 4.02% for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2021 for calculating:

  • accommodation prices
  • interest on refunds of accommodation lump sum balances

View current and past MPIRs.  

Providers must ensure:

  • their published accommodation prices on the My Aged Care website are up to date. If you have any questions call the My Aged Care service desk on 1800 836 799.
  • the accommodation prices published on their own website and in relevant written materials are up to date.

Reminder: Selecting specialisations in My Aged Care – share your experiences

(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, Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA), on behalf of the department, is reviewing the current arrangements for aged care providers nominating specialisations in the My Aged Care Find a Provider tool.

We would like to hear from provider representatives who are involved in creating and updating their organisation’s profile in the My Aged Care provider portal. We want to learn more about your decisions and experiences in nominating specialisations in the care of people from the nine Special Needs Groups.

If you are able to contribute, we encourage you to complete the online survey by Friday 18 December 2020. You will not be identified in our reporting of survey results.

If you would like further information about this project, or if you have any questions about your involvement in it, find out by:

calling AHA on 1300 242 111

emailing MACVerificationFramework@ahaconsulting.com.au.

 

Legislation

Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Act 2020 (Cth) – commences 1 March 2020

The Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Act 2020 amends the Aged Care Act 1997 to introduce an additional, discretionary procedure for classification of recipients of residential aged care and some kinds of flexible care.

The amendments will allow for the introduction of a new classification system focused on independently determining the care needs of older Australians accessing residential aged care and some types of flexible care.

 

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Act 2020 (Cth) – assented to 15.12.20

The purpose of the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Act 2020 is to change the payment of home care subsidy to approved providers from being paid in advance to being paid in arrears.

Paying home care subsidy in arrears will introduce a more contemporary business practice into home care subsidy payment arrangements and bring these arrangements into alignment with other Government programs.

The Act will not affect the eligibility of consumers to home care subsidy or the amount of home care subsidy payable for eligible home care consumers.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

Assessing the Standards – new workshops 

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the Commission has scheduled a new round of our “Assessing the Standards” online workshops, running throughout October. Through active participation in this online workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the principles that inform the Commission's approach to performance assessment
  • Understand and describe how they and other staff contribute to the achievement of quality outcomes for consumers
  • Use the self-assessment tool to gather and analyse information to evidence performance against the Quality Standards and/or identify opportunities for improvement
  • Contribute effectively to their organisation’s continuous improvement systems

Visit our website to find out more about the workshops and to register.

 

Webinar series: Changes to regulatory arrangements for residential aged care providers supporting NDIS participants from 1 December 2020

According to the Department of Health, Residential Aged Care (RAC) providers supporting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants will need to be registered* with the NDIS Commission from 1 December 2020. This also applies to RAC providers who start supporting NDIS participants after 1 December 2020. *Note that registration will be automatic for RAC providers with NDIS participants as at 1 December 2020.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is currently delivering a series of webinars to help RAC providers with the transition and to understand their responsibilities.

 

Flu vaccination poster

The Department of Health has issued this Flu Vaccination Poster. Residential aged care facilities may wish to display the attached poster at entrances, to alert anyone entering the facility of the flu vaccination requirements that came into effect on 1 May 2020.

 

Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line

According to The Department of Health, a new Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line has been set up to provide information, support and check on older Australians during the period of social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COTA Australia, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and the Older Person’s Advocacy Network have banded together to deliver this service with support from the Australian Government.

Senior Australians, their families and carers can freecall 1800 171 866 if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about what COVID-19 means for them or a loved one
  • are feeling lonely or distressed
  • are caring for a someone and need some information or a listening ear about what COVID-19 means for your circumstances
  • are worried about COVID-19 means for their usual aged care service
  • are worried about a friend or family member living with dementia.
  • are unable to access information on the internet and would like up-to-date advice.

Home care services providers can also use the number and dial option 1 to refer home care clients who would like a call from an independent organisation to check on their wellbeing.

The service will include outbound and inbound calls to provide contact, reassurance and practical advice on connecting to services to maximise social engagement and wellbeing whilst at home.

 

Resources on diverse population groups are now available for aged care staff

According to The Department of Health, The End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) website helps you to care for older Australians at the end of life. Our new diversity resources can help health workers and aged care staff to care for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Care leavers
  • Carers
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • Financially or socially disadvantaged people
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
  • People living in rural and remote areas
  • People with spirituality and faith beliefs
  • Veterans

How people think about death, dying and end of life is different for each person. Learning about these differences can help you to provide good palliative care. Access these resources on the Diverse Population Groups page of the ELDAC website.

 

Calculating residential accommodation payments in a leap year

This year is a leap year, with 366 days instead of 365. The Department of Health has received queries from approved providers of residential care seeking advice on how to calculate a daily accommodation payment (DAP) in a leap year. The calculators specified in the Fees and Payments Principles 2014 (No. 2) (the Principles) refer to 365 days for working out:

  • the DAP (or contribution) equivalent to a refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) (or contribution)
  • the amount of interest on a RAD (or contribution) balance or accommodation bond balance.

Even though 2020 is a leap year, residential care providers should continue to use 365 days when calculating DAP amounts and the interest payable on refunds of lump sum deposits. But please be aware that daily payments and daily contributions are payable for 366 days in 2020.

 

What Matters Most – New person centred care resources

According to The Department of Health, Palliative Care Australia, through a Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund grant, has launched a suite of resources to encourage early conversations about What Matters Most to older people, their care and their end of life preferences.

 

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?
ACE Editorial Team
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | 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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