Aged care news highlights from the week ending 21 June 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.
Coronavirus / COVID-19 News
Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) update to residential aged care facilities about minimising the impact of COVID-19
According to the Department of Health, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) published advice for residential aged care facilities about minimising the impact of COVID-19 on 21 April 2020. AHPPC continues to emphasise the significant health risk of COVID-19 for the elderly and individuals with co-morbidities or low immunity. AHPPC recommends that all Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) ensure they are sufficiently prepared to manage a COVID-19 outbreak. Detailed guidance for facilities is available.
Key changes to the recommended advice on visitor restrictions include:
- Permitting children of all ages to visit residents.
- Allowing visiting service providers such as hairdressers, diversional therapists and allied health professionals to enter RACFs, where these services cannot be provided through other models of care.
- Not limiting the number of hours a spouse or close relative can spend with a resident.
Queensland relaxes restrictions on visits to aged care homes – but a warning to stay COVID safe
According to The Donaldson Sisters, the state has become the first to go beyond the current Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice on residential care and lift restrictions on visitors to aged care residents. Under the national advice, residents can only have two visitors at one time per day and children aged under 16 are only permitted in limited circumstances, such as palliative care. But under changes announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on 18 June, aged care residents can have two visitors at a time – including children – for as often and as long as they like.
Workforce Retention Bonus Payment
According to the Department of Health, the grant opportunity round for the Aged Care Workforce Retention Bonus Payment is now open. All information regarding this grant opportunity can be found on the GrantConnect website and search for GO ID of GO4068. In addition, there are frequently asked questions (FAQs) to provide further information:
Temporary uplifts in funding
According to the Department of Health, the following uplifts in funding are available:
COVID-19 support payment to residential aged care providers:
Announced on 1 May 2020, $205 million has been allocated to fund one-off lump sum COVID-19 support payments to residential care providers. The payment commenced in June.
Temporary increase to residential care subsidy:
All residential care providers are receiving a portion of an additional $78.3 million. This is being administered through an uplift to subsidies paid through the Aged Care Funding Instrument from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020.
Temporary increase to viability and homeless supplements:
There is also $26.9 million in funding for a temporary 30% increase to the Residential and Home Care Viability Supplements and the Homeless supplement. Funding has effect from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020.
Temporary increase to home care package subsidies:
$22 million in funding has been allocated for a temporary increase in home care package subsidies to support providers’ additional costs resulting from COVID-19.
Reminder - staying up to date with your state and territory directions
According to the Department of Health, under the 3-Step Plan to a COVIDSafe Australia, each state and territory has mapped out a pathway to move toward COVIDSafe communities in a way that suits their circumstances. As States and Territories continue to progress through this framework, it is important that you stay up to date with your State and Territory directions. These directions contain current information on access to residential aged care facilities and public gatherings. The directions are available on the following websites:
Second wave of COVID-19 a concern, experts say
According to Hospital and Healthcare, Australian healthcare workers are being warned about the prospect of another spike in coronavirus cases after a second black lives matter protester in Melbourne tested positive for the virus on Monday. In recent weeks, thousands of people have defied court orders to attend the protests throughout Australia’s major cities and it is not yet known how many people may have contracted the virus as a result. The fears of a second COVID-19 outbreak come as China reports its highest virus tally in months, approximately two months after its strict lockdown measures were eased on 8 April this year. Closer to home, New South Wales has also recorded its first recent case of community transmission — breaking a 2-week streak, during which only imported cases from overseas travellers were observed.
Study identifies how to minimise resident infection-related hospitalisations
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, improving hand hygiene, staff training and antimicrobial stewardship are among strategies to prevent aged care residents going to hospital because of infections, a Monash University study shows. The study undertaken by Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety explored the root causes of the infections as part of its investigation into strategies to prevent infection-related hospitalisations from residential aged care. The research, published in the International Journal for Environmental Research and Public Health in May, involved a review of 49 consecutive infection-related hospitalisations of residents at six Resthaven aged care facilities. The most common type of infection leading to hospitalisation was respiratory (59 per cent) followed urinary (29 per cent) and skin (10 per cent).
COVID highlights role, plight of informal carers
According to Community Care Review, COVID-19 has highlighted the gaps in support and resources informal carers face, an international expert says. Professor Emily Ying Yang Chang is a co-chair of the WHO COVID-19 Roadmap Research Group for Social Science and is currently working on the WHO roadmap home care review report. Writing in the Lancet, Professor Chang says the informal care sector emerged as key pillar of the health care during the pandemic and led to an unprecedented reliance on informal carers. “In public health emergencies, informal home care providers are a crucial human resource that improves the community’s health-care capacity, especially in regions with an ageing population,” she writes.
Loss making facilities on the rise on top of COVID impact
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care sector is continuing to operate under significant financial strain with 60 per cent of aged care homes now operating in the red, StewartBrown’s latest industry report shows. This figure is up from 56 per cent for the six months ending December 2019 and 45 per cent 12 months ago. The quarterly aged care benchmarking survey also found that 34 per cent of aged care homes reported a cash loss (negative EBITDAR), compared to 29 per cent at the end of the previous quarter and 20 per cent for the same period last year. The StewartBrown March 2020 Aged Care Financial Performance Survey released this week includes data from 201 residential aged care providers and 1,108 aged care homes across Australia. The situation is worst in outer regional, rural and remote locations where 74 per cent of homes are operating at a loss, up from 71 per cent the previous quarter. More than half of these aged care homes made a cash loss (55 per cent) at March 2020.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
(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, 15 June was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day designated by the United Nations for people around the world to voice their opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to our older generations. The measures in place to help prevent elder abuse and protect the health, safety and wellbeing of senior Australians are even more important during uncertain and challenging times, such as now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 14 June 2020, Minister Colbeck announced the introduction of a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care from 1 July 2021. The SIRS will expand the responsibilities of residential aged care providers in relation to identifying, recording, managing, resolving and reporting assaults and a broader range of serious incidents in residential aged care. The SIRS will drive quality and safety improvements to residential aged care at the individual service and broader system level. The SIRS will be administered by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
Govt announces funding, start date for incident response scheme
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Federal Government has committed $23 million to kick off the new incident reporting arrangements for residential aged care from July next year. Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck announced the funding package for the July 2021 rollout of the Serious Incident Response Scheme on Monday, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The scheme was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response and the Carnell-Paterson review into regulatory processes and will replace the current reporting requirements in the Aged Care Act.
Elder Abuse Report
According to Bright Law, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released its report Elder Abuse —A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131). The ALRC was asked to consider Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks and how they might better protect older persons from misuse or abuse, and safeguard their autonomy. The Report includes recommendations for law reform to safeguard older people from abuse and support their choices and wishes through banks and financial institutions protecting vulnerable customers from abuse.
Tens of thousands of incidents between residents go unreported each year: study
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, there are likely more than 52,000 unreported incidents of resident on resident abuse in aged care facilities nationally every year, according to a recently released study commissioned by the Federal Government. Business advisory firm KPMG undertook a prevalence study of incidents of abuse between residents exempt from current reporting requirements as part of its preparatory work for the new Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS). The Prevalence Study for a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) final report recommends two options for future reporting of the incidents with the most victim impact. The final report was handed to the Federal Government in November 2019 but only released last week ahead of a $23 million funding announcement to rollout the new scheme from July 2021.
Dementia research plan fills gap for CALD seniors
According to Community Care Review, a new action plan aims to accelerate research to improve the care and lives of culturally and linguistically diverse Australians with dementia and their families and carers. The Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Dementia Research Action Plan has been developed by the NHMRC National Institute of Dementia Research (NNIDR) in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI). The plan, which was developed over 12 months, was informed by consultation with community and advocacy groups and 19 community consultations with 340 community members, two stakeholder workshops and two national surveys. NNIDR director Janice Besch said the plan identified dementia research priorities for CALD communities and guiding principles to support CALD inclusion in dementia research.
Free sign language service to be made available in aged care
According to Aged Care Insite, the Australian deaf community has scored a win with the announcement that a free sign language interpreting service will soon be available for senior Australians in aged care. The minister for aged care and senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said the service will make the aged care system more accessible for people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. “It will ensure that these people can participate in the assessment, planning, and review of their care – something which may have been more difficult in the past,” he said.
REMINDER: January - June 2020 reporting period coming to an end
According to the Australian Government Data Exchange, in preparation for the end of the January to June reporting period, it is important all organisations submit their data into the Data Exchange as soon as possible. This allows you to identify and resolve any data entry issues before the 30 July system close (including 30 additional days to submit data after the reporting period ends on 30 June). We encourage you to start talking about the importance of submitting timely data within your organisation. This is critically important where your organisation doesn’t regularly report or has previously missed a reporting period.
No significant developments this week.
Resources and Upcoming Events
New Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Resources – issued June 2020
The ACQSC has issued the following resources:
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Glossary: The Commission has produced a glossary of common terms to aid understanding of the aged care services sector. The list is not intended to be exhaustive and is provided as general information only.
Common questions you may want to ask residential aged care services about COVID-19: You, your friends and family have a right to know how your residential aged care service is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have developed some common questions that you can ask your service provider during this time.
Service Compliance Ratings Fact Sheet: The Department of Health, in partnership with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission), is introducing a service compliance rating system for residential aged care services. The rating system was developed in consultation with stakeholders, including senior Australians, their caregivers, aged care providers, and a range of peak bodies.
3rd Aged Care Workforce Forum – Developing a Customer Centric Aged Care Workforce – 23 June -2 July Online
According to the Healthcare Channel, Akolade’s 3rd Aged Care Workforce Forum has been strategically developed to aid in building effective strategies to develop and grow an efficient workforce to drive service quality delivery in aged care. 2020, and the Royal Commission is upon the industry. Let’s walk through with thought leaders the questions on everyone’s mind; how can we meet these new standards?
3rd Aged Care Tech Forum – 23 June -2 July Online
According to the Healthcare Channel, as the population of Australia ages, aged care facilities are under mounting pressure to provide superior services to customers in an increasingly competitive market. Service providers that succeed in the future will be those agile enough to harness the possibilities of new technologies and rapidly scale in order to meet new customer demands and attract government support. Technology has transformed the banking, airline, hotel, taxi, phone, photography and music industries, and now aged care needs to be disrupted.
Centre for Dementia Learning – two online courses available free until 30 June 2020
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Centre for Dementia Learning is committed to supporting staff in aged care and the aged care industry. This month, they are offering free education to help workers respond to changed behaviours and problem-solve challenges.
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
- 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
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?