Four Practical Things Aged Care Providers Can Do Right Now in Response to the Royal Commission’s Interim Report

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you would have heard something about the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. And it probably wasn’t good news.

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Weekly Wrap: October 20, 2019

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Weekly Wrap: October 20, 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 20 October 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.


Aged care staff report understaffing as top issue

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, four out of 10 residential aged care workers are planning to leave the sector within five years because they are overworked, stressed and underpaid, a national worker survey shows. The survey involved 4,138 residential aged care staff aged 18-59 including personal care workers, advanced skilled carers, nursing assistants, enrolled nurses, kitchen and catering staff, cleaning staff, occupational therapy assistants and support workers. Within five years, 37 per cent of respondents say they probably won’t be working in the sector while less than a third said they were sure they would remain in the sector (30 per cent). The top reasons influencing care staff and nursing assistants are being overworked due to understaffing (75 per cent), stressful aspects of the job (74 per cent) and income insufficient to meet the demands and commitments of the job (67 per cent).

Inquiry hears from unions, provider peak about worker issues

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, aged care workers raise concerns daily about physical violence, low pay, staff shortages and challenges with securing permanent work, the royal commission hears. On Wednesday, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety heard evidence from representatives of industry peak bodies and unions about the feedback and concerns they receive from their members working in the aged care sector. A shortage of staff, insufficient pay, inadequate training, unmanageable workloads and concerns about job security were among other top concerns discussed by the panel.

Pollaers calls out government over lack of action on workforce

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the government needs to act on a number of workforce recommendations before the sector can improve employee attraction and retention, the workforce taskforce chair tells the royal commission. However, the government has not even responded to the handful of the strategic actions directed to it including a social change campaign around ageing, says Professor John Pollaers, who chaired the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

International students, Pacific Islanders plug aged care workforce gap

According to Community Care Review, international students on temporary visas and Pacific Islanders brought to Australia under a targeted employment program are filling the gap in the aged care workforce, the royal commission heard today. Professor Sara Charlesworth, director of the Centre for People, Organisation and Work at RMIT has been researching the employment of frontline aged care staff for 25 years, during which she says there’s been a move from a permanent migrant workforce to a temporary one. She told the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on Wednesday that aged care workers experience poor working conditions and are under-paid, under-recognised and not valued by society or their employers. The workforce is also poorly unionised, estimated at under 15 per cent, and highly gendered, she said.

Human Rights Watch pushes for ban on chemical restraints

According to Aged Care Insite, Human Rights Watch is calling on the federal government to ban the use of chemical restraints on older Australians with dementia. In Australia, nearly 450,000 people have dementia and more than half of aged care residents have the disease. Neither patients or their families were asked for informed consent on the use of chemical restraint drugs, according to HRW. On top of the ban on chemical restraints, the group is recommending mandatory training for aged care staff in dementia and alternatives to de-escalate unwanted behaviour. The report also recommended higher minimum staffing levels as well as enforcement powers to protect the rights of older Australians.

Aged care sector mulls over star rating system for staffing

According to Aged Care Insite, aged care providers are eyeing a US star rating system for staffing levels after a report suggested it could be replicated for the Australian sector. In a royal commission report, the Centre for Health Service Development pitched Australia’s aged care staffing levels against a star rating system used in the US and showed they came up short – more than half of all Australian aged care residents are in homes that would have a one or two-star rating. Speaking to the royal commission this week, report co-author professor Kathy Eagar said the star system sidesteps the argument industry leaders often raise that measuring ratios is a blunt instrument. “This sort of system, which is more sophisticated, allows for homes to have a quite different mix of staff in each home, depending on the unique needs of their residents,” Eagar said.

Audit shows unpaid carers in grip of chronic anxiety

According to Community Care Review, almost forty per cent of unpaid carers are experiencing chronic anxiety, a survey of carers has found. Carers Queensland’s Quality of Life Audit also reveals that almost one in three (30 per cent) feel socially isolated and 39 per cent report feeling chronic anxiety.

WHO launches app to improve care for older people

According to Hospital and Healthcare, in recognition of the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a package of tools, including a digital application, to help health and social workers provide better care for older people. The interactive digital application, known as the WHO ICOPE Handbook App, provides practical guidance to address priority conditions including mobility limitations, malnutrition, vision and hearing loss, cognitive decline, depressive symptoms, and social care and support. Used in conjunction with the package of tools, including a new handbook, the app is designed to accelerate training of health and social workers to better address the diverse needs of older people.

Why some older adults are losing their digital legacy

According to Aged Care Insite, a survey of people aged 65 and older revealed a lack of understanding about what happens to family photos, social media accounts and other digital possessions after death. Most respondents assumed that ownership would automatically pass on to their children or heirs with the computer or smartphone they used to access a service like Facebook, Apple iCloud or Google Photos. However, family photos and other elements of seniors’ digital legacies are being lost because “it’s not as simple as just bequeathing those photos, music, books or even video games to someone,” said researcher Derani Dissanayake said.

Doctors develop new standards for aged care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the professional organisation for Australia’s general practitioners is seeking feedback on a draft set of voluntary standards for residential aged care facilities to improve the primary care of residents. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has developed Standards for general practice residential aged care (GPRAC) to help remove barriers for GPs delivering care in aged care facilities and bridge gaps not covered by the Aged Care Quality Standards. The first-of-their kind standards set out essential minimum requirements to support GPs to deliver residents quality and safe care, the importance on each standard and how facilities can meet criteria and indicators.

Legislation

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 (Cth) – introduced into the Senate and second reading moved on 16 October 2019

The purpose of the Bill is to transfer additional aged care regulatory functions of the Secretary of the Department of Health to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. This reform completes the two-year agenda to strengthen and enhance aged care regulation to protect and assure the quality of care provided to consumers of Australian Government funded aged care. It delivers on the intention as set out in the objects of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018.

Resources and Upcoming Conferences

National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) - First quarter data submission – due 21 October 2019

According to the Department of Health, residential aged care providers should now have collected quality indicator data for each of the three quality indicators for July, August, and September 2019. The first quarter QI Program data was due to be submitted to the department no later than 21 October 2019.

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.

The Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) project on improving home care payment arrangements - consultation period now open

According to The Department of Health, the consultation period for ACFA’s project looking at the financial impact of improving home care payments arrangements is now open. In forming its advice to Government, ACFA is seeking written submissions responding to its consultation paper by 12 November 2019. You can have your say via a link on the Department of Health’s site.

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.

Uploading Data Collection Template: Quick Reference Guide for CHSP providers – deadline extended to 8 November 2019

The My Aged Care Provider Portal will open from 22 July until 11.59pm AEST 8 November 2019 for Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers to upload the grandfathered client data collection template. The Department of Health has released a Quick Reference Guide that explains how to upload the data collection template into the My Aged Care Provider Portal and select the services each client receives.

Standard 8 Organisational Governance Masterclass – various locations across NSW, ACT and QLD in September and October 2019

Australian Ageing Agenda invites you to join your fellow directors, chief executive officers, executives & mangers to enhance your understanding of the Consumer Outcome, Organisation Statement and Requirements of Standard 8 and the practical steps and activities you should take.

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.

In Conversation with Professor Mary Marshall – Perth 22 October 2019; Sydney 31 October 2019

The Dementia Centre is hosting “In Conversation with Professor Mary Marshall”. Mary Marshall, Emeritus Professor, OBE, is an international leader in the design of environments for people living with dementia, and social care. Topics covered:

  • Mary Marshall's interest and career in dementia, where this started
  • why design was so important in her work
  • what has changed since she began in dementia design and social care
  • what needs to change
  • a Q & A with the audience opportunity.

LASA National Congress – 27-29 October 2019, Adelaide

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the LASA National Congress will offer global perspectives, best-practice keynotes, and interactive, thought-provoking discussions, designed to empower our industry to actively embrace future opportunities and become the change we want to see. This year’s theme is: Better Ageing Futures for All Australians.

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.

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.

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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