What ACE Readers had to Say: The Aged Care Quality Standards One Year On

Last week CompliSpace released the Aged Care Impact Report – One Year On. The Report revealed that the burden of adjusting to the new Aged Care Quality Standards and also coping with a once in 100-year pandemic are straining the aged care sector, putting staff retention at risk and pointing to reduced capacity to care for residents.

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Weekly Wrap: 23 August 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 23 August 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 23 August 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

Newmarch House COVID-19 Outbreak Independent Review

An independent review into the COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House was commissioned by the Department of Health to understand what occurred and what could be learned from the experience. The review was undertaken by Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly. The Newmarch House COVID-19 Outbreak Independent Review – Final Report is available to download here.

 

PM passes the buck on aged care, AMA calls for audit of every facility across the nation

According to Aged Care Insite, Scott Morrison appeared to shirk responsibly for the poor handling of aged care during the pandemic in an interview with ABC recently. “Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, says the buck stops with him when it comes to the hotel quarantine bungle. Does the buck stop with you, Prime Minister, for the litany of aged care failures?” ABC host Michael Rowland asked the PM. “Well there are shared responsibilities,” Morrison started to reply, before cutting himself short and continuing: “Well public health is a matter for the Victorian government.” Rowland tried to curtail the PM’s attempt at circumnavigating the question by telling him that aged care is the responsibility of the federal government. “Well public health … we regulate aged care, but when there is a public health pandemic, then public health. Whether it gets into aged care, shopping centres, schools or anywhere else then those are things that are managed from Victoria. So, I don’t think it’s as binary as you suggest,” said the PM.

 

Watchdog surveys consumers about home care during COVID

According to Community Care Review, the aged care regulator is reaching out directly to consumers for the first time to gain an insight into home care during COVID-19. The Consumer Engagement Survey for Home Care Package Services, which began in June, aims to develop a better understanding of the quality of care being provided by service providers, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said. Ms Anderson told the Dementia Australia Symposium Series on Tuesday that more than 4,200 calls have already been made out of a targeted 5,000.

 

Support for managing COVID-19 related costs

(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, grant opportunities are available to assist aged care providers to manage the costs of being impacted by COVID-19. The Aged Care Support Program (ACSP) aims to assist eligible providers, subject to direct COVID-19 impacts, to deliver continuity of safe, quality care for consumers. ACSP reimburses eligible expenditure incurred in managing direct COVID-19 impacts, up to a maximum grant value per service. The Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) grant opportunity is designed to minimise the risk of an infection occurring in the aged care sector. More information on these grants to assist you to determine if you are eligible to apply is available here: Support for managing COVID-19 related costs.

 

Debate over national body to tackle COVID in aged care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a leading aged care expert’s calls for a national coordinating body to advise on the sector’s response to COVID-19 has been backed by the head of the royal commission. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety held a four-day hearing into the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19 last week in Sydney. The inquiry heard from practising senior specialist in geriatric medicine and head of Monash University’s Health Law and Ageing Research Unit Professor Joseph Ibrahim, who has been calling for a national COVID-19 coordinating body for aged care to be set up since March.

 

Nursing union makes stunning claims about Victoria’s aged care homes at royal commission

According to Brinkwire, health bosses have been left ‘shocked and deeply disturbed’ by details heard in a royal commission into coronavirus deaths in aged care homes. Members of the nurses union made a series of explosive allegations during the probe on Wednesday, claiming that essential face masks were kept in locked boxes and limited to one per shift. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation secretary Annie Butler said workers had detailed ‘incredible breaches’ of infection control. ‘We had members tell us they could only use one glove rather than two,’ Ms Butler said during aged care royal commission hearings. ‘Members [have been] told they had to reuse equipment, put it in collective plastic bags.’ Health Workers Union Victorian secretary Diana Asmar estimates 1,000 of their members in the state had caught the virus. Poor staffing ratios, a lack of PPE and the growing death toll had left workers feeling like they were ‘at the bottom of the Titanic’, she said.

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission statement on regulatory actions to support Victorian aged care homes during COVID-19

(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 released a statement on regulatory action they have taken in Victoria to minimise the risk of COVID-19 to staff and consumers. The Commission has taken regulatory action in relation to a number of approved providers of residential aged care services experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, following concerns identified about the serious impact of the outbreak on their residents, and failure to comply with the Aged Care Quality Standards. The regulatory instrument used – a “Notice of Requirement to Agree to Certain Matters” – sets out terms determined by the Commission that the approved provider must immediately implement.

The terms of the Notice in each case include a requirement for the approved provider to appoint an independent adviser to provide direction and advice to the approved provider to address the identified non-compliance at the service. Providers are also required to give close, ongoing attention to keeping residents and families informed about the regulatory actions under the Notice. The full statement can be found here.

 

Workforce retention bonus second payment

(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 workforce retention payments grant round has now closed. If you have missed out on applying please email grant.ATM@health.gov.au. All information can be found at retaining staff on Health.gov.au

The second payment in September is just around the corner. This will be paid automatically based on the first payment. Variations are only required if your payment amount would reduce by 10% or more. If applying for a variation, please submit a variation staffing profile spreadsheet and declaration no later than 4 September 2020 to acwr@health.gov.au

These can be found at the Variation Request and Declaration page.

The guidelines for this can be found at section 5.2 of the Grant Opportunity Guidelines.

Provider enquiries on the application may be submitted in writing to: grant.ATM@health.gov.au.

 

Emergency Leave Provision

(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 Australian Government announced the emergency leave provision for residential aged care on 14 May 2020. This article reminds service providers how to enter this leave in the payment system.

The new leave provision enables, for a specified time period and location, care residents to take emergency leave (non-hospital), rather than using their existing social leave entitlements. The COVID-19 pandemic has been deemed an emergency situation. Emergency leave is available from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020. Services Australia deployed the payment system functionality for emergency leave on 27 June 2020. This included suspending the social leave count during the emergency leave period. Service providers should continue to enter claimable social leave events for a care recipient as per the current process. No additional leave coding is required.

 

Communication when a resident tests positive for COVID-19

(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, Guidance is available to help residential aged care providers and their staff communicate with families in the difficult situation of a resident testing positive for COVID-19. All residential aged care facilities across the country are urged to prepare their communication system for a potential COVID-19 outbreak. This includes phoning the nominated representative for each resident in your facility to confirm you have their latest contact number(s) and email address.

It is important that nominated representatives understand their obligations to:

  • be contactable
  • pass information on to other family and friends.

Ask if you can share their contact details with government authorities and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). Note that their details will not be used for marketing, but strictly to facilitate assistance to the facility and its residents. Read the full advice on preparing communications.

 

Operational update - Victorian Aged Care Response Centre

(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 Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) has issued a statement providing an update on how it is coordinating and deploying resources across the state to protect senior Australians from COVID-19. The VACRC consists of representatives from more than a dozen federal and state agencies, who are working together to address the unfolding situation in aged care facilities in Victoria. The Response Centre’s preventive and critical response efforts remain focused on continuity of care for aged care residents, the safety and wellbeing of staff and residents, and increasing communication with residents’ families. The statement with more details on the operational updates can be found here.

 

Vic aged care response centre expands resources

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care regulator has made almost 60 surprise checks on Victorian aged care homes to assess infection control and protective wear practices this month, the centre leading the aged care response in the state has announced. The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre is continuing to expand its operations, which include hundreds of defence force personnel and health professionals from around the country, it announced in an operational update on Wednesday. The centre, a joint commonwealth and state initiative with over 60 staff from 20 government agencies launched in late July, is focused on rapidly responding to known outbreaks and preventing new infections in COVID-free facilities.

 

SA health directions for aged care workers

(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, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the South Australian State Coordinator has made a Direction under the Emergency Management Act 2004 to limit entry into residential aged care facilities in South Australia. This direction and accompanying FAQs can be found here.

 

Dementia behaviour support during COVID-19 

(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, Dementia Support Australia (providers of DBMAS and SBRT) has developed advice to help aged care providers deliver the best possible support for people experiencing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia during this difficult time.

See: Restrictive practices: understanding and managing behaviours in a time of pandemic.

Dementia Support Australia continues to support all aged care services, whether your home or service is in lockdown or not. Dementia Support Australia’s consultants are still providing face to face visits, or phone or video conference consultations depending on your preference. Call their 24 hour service on 1800 699 799 or visit www.dementia.com.au.

 

Other News

Australian first elder abuse law passed in ACT

According to Aged Care Guide, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has passed legislation to criminalise abuse against an older person, or vulnerable people, which will be the first law of its kind in Australia. This legislation will protect older Australians in the ACT and hold individuals or organisations accountable for abuse or neglect perpetrated against vulnerable people within their care. The new law will not just apply to people aged 60 and over, but also to adults who have a disability. The new elder abuse laws will be coming into effect in April 2021.

 

Aged Care Provider Portal update

(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 new Aged Care Provider Portal (ACCP) is available for Flexible Care providers to make claims online.

Flexible Care providers can use the ACCP to:

  • view and finalise claims
  • download payment statements and reports
  • view and submit events for care recipients by service
  • self-manage over occupancy (for flexible care only).

To access the new portal, providers will need to register for a PRODA individual account

 

Survey on food and nutrition in aged care homes

(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 its interim report, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety identified food as a major quality and safety issue. Improving food and the social elements of eating can reduce people’s needs for other aged care services.

The department is partnering with the Maggie Beer Foundation to deliver a National Congress on food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care. In preparation for the Congress, the Maggie Beer Foundation is conducting a Survey of Food, Nutrition and the Dining Experience in Australian Aged Care Homes.

This survey forms part of a comprehensive review of food, nutrition and the dining experience and will inform Congress discussions. The aim is to find innovative options for improving food and the food experience in aged care services.

Your response, by 11 September, will help give the Congress a complete picture to work with. Please forward the survey to the person in your home who is most responsible for food, hydration and nutrition.

 

Input sought on skills for aged care chefs, cooks

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Aged Services Industry Reference Committee is seeking feedback from providers on a proposed skill set to enable qualified chefs and cooks to quickly begin working in residential aged care kitchens. The draft skill set has been developed by Australian Industry and Skills Committee Emergency Response Sub-Committee following a request from the Aged Services IRC in July. The Residential Aged Care Cookery Skill Set targets qualified cooks and chefs with a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery or equivalent who are seeking additional skills to work in a residential aged care setting. It utilises three existing units of competency to address knowledge and skill gaps they may encounter in a clinical setting such as preparing food to meet special dietary requirements, meal modifications, therapeutic diets and dietary guidelines for aged care residents.

 

Advocacy group calls for private phones for every aged care resident

According to Aged Care Insite, Advocacy Tasmania is calling on the federal government and the aged care sector to give every aged care resident their own private phone. As COVID-19 has forced homes across the country into lockdown, Advocacy Tasmania CEO Leanne Groombridge says that the move is vital to protect residents from poor treatment and give them some independence. “Can you imagine you or I, or my children, not having access to a phone? We actually remove our children’s phones as a form of punishment. Yet for older people in aged care, it’s not even a basic,” Groombridge says.

 

ROYAL COMMISSION: Innovative housing and barriers to accommodation

According to Aged Care Guide, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety held two days of hearings last week, running from 13-14 August, in Sydney investigating accommodation and design in aged care. The main accommodation topics focussed on included building and design standards, physical design and models of residential aged care, dementia-friendly design and small home design models, secure housing, incentivising alternative accommodation for aged care services, and innovative accommodation models for ageing in place.

 

Call for audit into wages paid to aged care workers

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, worker representative group Health Services Union is calling for an aged care sector wide audit to investigate instances of underpayment after two large operators admit to underpaying staff. The call comes as BaptistCare NSW and ACT becomes the second aged care provider in a week to enter into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman to resolve self-reported pay issue issues. BaptistCare said it miscalculated leave loading for shift workers between 1 December 2011 and 12 July 2018, affecting 2,140 staff and resulting in $1.2 million in underpayments and $1.37 million in overpayments. The error was discovered during a detailed review into annual leave entitlements for shift workers in July 2019, BaptistCare said in a statement on Tuesday.

 

Legislation

No significant developments this week.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

LASA National Congress – online 12-23 October 2020

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, designed for any member of our industry – from managers to carers – this vital professional development opportunity will provide you with a full schedule of quality sessions.

 

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.

 

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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